Senior EU officials said poor education among Roma children is likely to lock them into a spiral of unemployment, poverty and ill health and widen the gap between majority communities.
"Not only is education important for employment prospects, but also parents' employment, housing situation and access to social services are inextricably linked to the success rate of Roma children in the educational process," EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said in Brussels.
Advertisement"It is vital that policies for Roma education are not dealt with in isolation from those in employment and social affairs, housing and public health," he said, at talks studying ways to improve access to education.
Officials, experts, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and academics also underlined that better integrating Roma is in the best economic and social interests of the EU.
Savings would come through less lost productivity and state revenues.
No precise figures exist on the number of Roma in the EU. But the population numbers millions of people and has grown considerably since 2004, when 12 mainly ex-communist states joined the bloc.
Romania has one of the largest Roma communities in Europe: 530,000 according to the 2002 census and some 2.5 million, according to NGOs. Fearing discrimination, many do not declare their ethnic origin.
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