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(Jun 08, 2010) On May 20, 2010, the European Parliament endorsed the European Commission's proposal of July 2009 that allows the European Structural Funds (ESF) to be used to ameliorate the housing conditions of marginalized communities. The amendment explicitly mentions the Roma minority, but is not limited only to them. The Roma population is estimated to be 10-12 million; they live mostly in segregated, rural neighborhoods. Studies have shown that in Central and Eastern European Union countries, more than 50% of the Roma have lived in partially or totally segregated areas for the last 15 years. (Press Release, IP/10/589/, EU Adopts New Measures to Improve Housing Conditions of Roma Communities (May 20, 2010), available at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/589&fo
rmat=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
.)

Prior to the adoption of this amendment, the use of ESF was very restricted for housing purposes. Only renovations of existing, high-occupancy dwellings in urban areas qualified; moreover, only the 12 newest EU Member States, including 10 that joined the EU on May 1, 2004, and Bulgaria and Romania, which joined in 2007, were eligible to apply for ESF. Consequently, Roma people living in other nations and outside of urban areas did not benefit from the use of those funds. (Id.)

Under the amendment, the use of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is part of the ESF, is extended to all EU Member States. All disadvantaged communities are eligible to apply for ERDF monies. Moreover, ERDF funding may be used either for the replacement of existing homes or construction of new ones in rural or urban areas. (Id.)

Johannes Hahn, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, stated:

The Roma community is Europe's largest minority group, which is often victim of marginalisation, deprivation and social exclusion. I welcome today's decision, which will allow regional policy to help to break the vicious circle in which these communities seem to be trapped. This should be part of an overall approach covering also actions in the fields of education, health, social affairs and employment. (Id.)

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Author: Theresa Papademetriou More by this author
Topic: Social Welfare More on this topic
Jurisdiction: European Union More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 06/08/2010