Germany is trying to seize billions of pounds from Romania and Bulgaria meant for the Roma community after claiming they do not use it, express.co.uk reports.
Joachim Stamp, integration minister for Germany’s largest state, North Rhine Westphalia, said he finds it “extremely annoying” the two eastern European countries refuse to use funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) for its proper use.
Both EU member states receive funding worth millions of pounds every year to help their Roma communities, which is the largest minority group in the bloc with more than 10million living in Europe, the paper further reads.
Bulgaria, which has 750,000 Roma – or 9.94 per cent of the population – was allocated £6.5billion (approx. EUR 7.15bn – editor’s note) from 2014-2020, with £4.6bn (EUR 5.1 bn) coming from the ESF.
Romania was handed £20.7bn (EUR 22.7bn), with £14.4bn from the ESF, in the same period to help its more than 1.1million-strong Roma population, which represented more than five per cent of the country’s overall population.
Mr Stamp said Romania and Bulgaria refuse to use the money for Romas so the cash should be re-distributed to the Ruhr region. The area, in eastern North-Rhine Westphalia, is the largest urban area in Germany and the third-largest in the EU. Its two main cities, Dortmund and Duisburg, are home to a large number of immigrants from the two countries.
During the previous funding period, from 2007-2013, Romania failed to use even a fifth of its total £17.8bn EU contribution towards helping the Roma community.
The EU uses the term ‘Roma’ as an umbrella term which also includes groups who have similar cultural characteristics, such as Travellers, Gypsies and the Sinti.