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Foreign Minister Stubb Opposes Ban on Begging

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb has condemned plans to make street begging illegal. Instead he has called on EU leaders to provide support for Europe's Roma minority.

Image: Yle

Speaking on YLE’s Ykkösaamu Saturday discussion programme, Stubb said that the problems faced by Europe’s Roma groups, the main practitioners of panhandling, should be addressed by financial programmes such as EU-level support funds.

The Foreign Minister called on EU member states to earmark funds for the Roma during upcoming budget negotiations. He proposed the creation of mutual funds and a greater emphasis on training for the Roma.

“It all comes down to financial considerations in one way or another. The Roma are as important as any other minority group,” he declared.

Stubb also pointed out that the right to free movement across the region is a fundamental freedom in the EU.

“This is not an issue for only Romania, Bulgaria or France. We all have a common responsibility,” Stubb added.

The Minister said that everyone should consider how best to eliminate panhandling from city streets. He added that a ban would only address a symptom and not the root cause of the problem.

“I’m very skeptical about an outright ban on begging. Poverty is not a crime. If it’s linked to organised crime, we can intervene using regular legal avenues.”

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