BRUSSELS, April 4 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission's concerted action has put Roma integration firmly on the political agenda across Europe, said a new report unveiled Friday on Member States' progress achieved under the European Union(EU) Framework.
The first signs of improvement in the lives of Roma are slowly starting to show, said the report released at 2014 Roma Summit.
The Commission reports assessed progress made under the EU framework since 2011 and identify both positive examples and areas for further efforts from Member States.
The report said challenges remain, improvements are visible: more Roma children attend pre-school, mentoring programmes to help Roma find work are increasingly in place, as well as mediator programmes to bridge gaps between Roma and non-Roma communities in housing and access to healthcare. Thanks to the new EU Regulations on the use of EU funds Member States need to dedicate 20 percent of money from the European Social Fund to social inclusion in the 2014-20 period.
"Four years ago, the topic of Roma integration was nowhere to be seen on the radar of most Member States. Now, thanks to concerted action, we are witnessing a wind of change," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner.
"Of course, we cannot reverse centuries of exclusion and discrimination overnight, but having put the issue firmly on Europe's political agenda, we are seeing improvements."
"To make a difference to the lives of Europe's marginalized Roma communities, we have to ensure that adequate funds are used effectively to support National Roma Integration Strategies. Member States should also take integration of Roma into account when developing education, employment, healthcare and housing policies", said Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.
"Now is the time for Member States to ensure that Roma inclusion is a priority for spending EU funds in the forthcoming seven year financial period." Andor said.