Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council Agenda (19 May 2011)

Communities and Local Government written statement – made on 18th May 2011.

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Photo of Andrew Stunell Andrew Stunell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will be held on 19 May in Brussels. Andy Lebrecht, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU will represent the United Kingdom.

This will be a single-issue Council on the subject of Roma integration. On 5 April, the European Commission published a communication on an EU framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020. Based on this, the presidency has invited the Council to hold an exchange of views and adopt a set of Council conclusions and an opinion from the Social Protection Committee.

The UK will agree that Roma in many parts of Europe experience extreme poverty, discrimination and exclusion and that the primary responsibility for tackling this lies with the member states. We will therefore welcome the fact that the conclusions represent a clear political commitment by EU member states to take concrete steps to improve the situation of their Roma nationals, while recognising that the situation in each member state is different.

We will outline the fact that in the UK we have a strong and well-established legal framework to combat discrimination and hate crime and that this protects all individuals, including Roma, Gypsies and Travellers, from racial and other forms of discrimination and racially motivated crime. We will also acknowledge that the UK’s Gypsies and Travellers none the less experience inequalities and we will summarise the action being undertaken in the different parts of the UK to deal with this.

We also acknowledge the importance of co-ordination between member states to tackle organised crime, particularly trafficking, which can affect Roma, especially Roma children.

We will note the opportunity that EU funds provide to member states to add value to their policies to improve the situation of Roma and other disadvantaged people.

And finally, we will underline the importance of sharing good practice between member states and of ensuring that any EU activity complements, rather than duplicates, that of other international organisations.