Friday, 16 April 2021 04:06

Portuguese official: Socially excluded must join green, digital transition

Portugal’s secretary of state for integration and migration said on Thursday that socially excluded populations should participate in the climate and digital transition, enhancing their opportunities, integration and participation in the labour market.

Speaking at a virtual conference celebrating the adoption of the European Council Recommendation on the equality, inclusion and participation of Roma populations, Cláudia Pereira highlighted the role of the climate and digital areas in the “centrality of contemporary societies”, so the development of these economic segments should also include populations in situations of social exclusion.

Through the reinforcement of opportunities and the integration and participation in the labour market, socially excluded populations would contribute to the development and cohesion of the European Union in its diversity and plurality, she said.

According to Pereira, Roma communities “are the most vulnerable and discriminated against” in the EU.

The Council recommendation gives “continuity to the European and national policies that have been assumed in the last decades in the fight against the secular processes of social exclusion and discrimination of the majority of the Roma population”, she said.

According to Pereira, the “unavoidable impetus” of the European Commission communication, through the European framework for national Roma integration strategies until 2020, was “the first step” in many countries towards the implementation of “systematic and structured policies of inclusion and participation of Roma populations”.

“It has promoted important developments, in some areas more than others, but the conclusions from the evaluations made by the Council, the European Parliament and various civil society organisations at European and national level point to the need for a renewed and strengthened commitment to equality and inclusion of the Roma population,” she said.

Pereira added that the current Council recommendation supports the definition, implementation and monitoring of “the new generation of national strategies to promote the effective inclusion of European Roma citizens as enshrined in the treaties and the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights”.

She highlighted five guidelines from the Council’s recommendation: “reflect the diversity of Roma communities”, “combat the anti-Roma movement as a specific and systematic form of racism”, “promote participation and partnerships with a special focus on mobilising the Roma community”, “rely on the portfolio of indicators as a tool to promote greater comparability of policies and results between the various Member States” and “biannual monitoring and reporting of data with a greater focus on effective results”.

The minister said that the 27 “should take this recommendation as a reference in their specific policies focused on the integration of the improvement of the living conditions of the most vulnerable populations”, sharing “practices and achievements so that common learning and articulation at a European level may contribute to accelerate the processes of change in the inclusion of all European citizens”.

“Investment in access to quality education for Roma children and young people is starting to show positive results reflected in the biannual assessments that we carry out at this level. At the moment, the areas of adult qualification, access to employment and decent housing are essential priorities of our political action”, she concluded.

Pereira participated in a videoconference entitled “Working together for Roma rights”, organised by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, as part of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU.

[Edited by Josie Le Blond]