The European Commission has asked the EU's 27 member states to submit national strategies by the end of this year aimed at raising the living standards of Roma (Gypsies).
Roma are especially disadvantaged in education, healthcare, housing and access to jobs, the commission says.
French deportations of Roma to Romania and Bulgaria last year triggered sharp criticism in the EU.
One EU survey found that only 42% of Roma children completed primary school.
The survey, in six EU countries, also estimated Roma attendance in secondary education to be only 10%.
The EU's Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Laszlo Andor, said "the persistent exclusion of Roma people is unacceptable in 21st Century Europe".
"The living conditions of the majority of Roma and their relations with mainstream society have just worsened in recent years."
The commission, which drafts EU laws, presented a blueprint on Tuesday to tackle social exclusion affecting Europe's 10-12 million Roma.
The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency will collect data and monitor how the member states act to meet the goals set by the commission.
The EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, said her priority was that "member states help ensure that all Roma children complete at least primary school".