THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS:
- stresses the need for national governments to fully involve regional and local authorities in national Roma integration policies, given that social and economic integration takes place primarily at local level; this also implies that national governments need to make the necessary funds available to local and regional authorities to carry out Roma integration policies;
- calls on national governments to support the efforts made by regional and local authorities to integrate the Roma by putting in place coherent national policies and legislation in cooperation with their local and regional levels within a clear European framework, in which aims and means of the different level policies are coordinated;
- emphasises that the disadvantages faced by the Roma population in terms of discrimination, poverty, inadequate education, labour market obstacles, segregated housing and restricted access to health and social services need to be tackled at all levels across Europe; would, however, point out that Roma is an umbrella term which includes other population groups (the Sinti, Gypsies, Travellers, Kalè, Camminanti, Ashkali, etc.) with similar cultural characteristics and a history of marginalisation and exclusion from European society, who cannot all be assimilated within a single socio-cultural identity;
- believes that in order to achieve these objectives, it is strategically important to take account of the gender dimension and to combat the multiple forms of discrimination suffered by Roma women, both within and outside their own community. There is a need to promote women's participation and for them to assume social responsibilities, providing them with opportunities for education, training and employment. These steps would have positive repercussions for families as a whole and on children's health and education.