"The European Economic and Social Committee considers that the participation of Roma at all stages of decision-making is essential for achieving effective policies that can make a real difference to their situation within the EU. However, the tools available today are not sufficient in this regard", said Georges Dassis during his opening speech at a conference that was held at the EESC on Friday 10 June on how to strengthen Roma political participation. The conference was organised by the European Roma Information Office (ERIO) in conjunction with the EESC and discussions focused on the importance of promoting the participation of Roma people in the decision-making process and also their inclusion in the political structures.
The President of the EESC had the unique opportunity of presenting all the initiatives that the European Economic and Social Committee had undertaken with regard to Roma integration in societies and in the political processes. He specifically mentioned the project entitled "In favour of better integration of Roma through civil society initiatives" that the Committee has worked on, emphasising that the results of this project were based on data gathered from fact-finding visits, hearings and meetings with various stakeholders. These results were also passed on to all the European Institutions. Furthermore, he also referred to the Civil Society Prize of 2014 that was awarded to organisations helping with Roma integration.
In conclusion, Mr. Dassis stressed that it is necessary to respectthe cultural specificitiesof Roma andencouragetheir implications andtheirparticipation inpolitical lifein the societiesin which they live.