26-27 February 2014: 496th plenary session

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"Education is an investment! Do not count education as part of the deficit!"

On 27 February 2014, part of the plenary session was devoted to a discussion on the European Citizens' Initiative "Education is an investment! Do not count education as part of the deficit!" which was presented by Ms Anna Diamantopoulou, former European Commissioner and, currently, president of the DIKTIO-Network.

Interventions by members of the Workers' Group
Dumitru Fornea

Dumitru ForneaDumitru Fornea affirmed his positive opinion regarding the initiative, but noted that education is a right guaranteed by the Member States' national constitutions. As a result, correct implementation of the national laws of the countries by the politicians might be more appropriate than a citizens' initiative in order to ensure that proper education is provided to all and to fight functional illiteracy.

 

Daniela Rondinelli

Daniela RondinelliDaniela Rondinelli commented that nations unfortunately do not see education as an investment, which results in the responsibility being shifted to the shoulders of parents. This only highlights the imbalance of our society, as the luxury of a good education is limited to children of privileged families, leaving the rest at a higher risk of unemployment and poverty. Ms Rondinelli also highlighted the importance and value of teachers, who are the most crucial element in the training of young people, and are now facing austerity measures and cutbacks.

Roma inclusion strategies

On 27 February 2014, the plenary session also received a visit from Mr Zoltán Balog, Hungarian minister for human resources in the context of the debate on Roma inclusion strategies.

Interventions by members of the Workers' Group
Luis Miguel Pariza Castaños

Luis Miguel Pariza CastañosLuis Miguel Pariza Castaños applauded the European strategy launched under the Hungarian presidency and the United in Diversity idea. He drew attention to the fact that, despite efforts, there has been an increase of phobia, racism and discrimination against minorities. He strongly agreed on the high importance of the fundamental right of free movement in the EU and noted that the EU institutions must actively defend that right in light of recent developments. He also urged for correct and stronger implementation of the strategies by the governments, stressing that governance must go hand in hand with participation of regional level organisations.

Giuseppe Iuliano

Giuseppe IulianoGiuseppe Iuliano spoke of the obstacle of red tape in the achievement of real integration. He reminded participants that there are 6 million Roma dispersed throughout the EU, making the issue of their integration relevant to us all. He also pointed out that the Roma population suffered greatly in the past during the Nazi regime, and they never received any compensation. For that reason, it is now time to put renewed effort into finding solutions to pressing issues such as health, work, education and housing. He ended with a quote: ''When you look at the Roma you see a mirror of us all. They have forced us to become true Europeans''.