Annual Members Meeting 2019

Annual Members Meeting 2019

From 20-22 October 2019, ERGO Network’s members came together in Skopje, North Macedonia, to share updates from the past year, set future priorities and learn from each other.

On day 1, the participants attended working groups to define the future priorities of the organisation   on the topics of employment, data collection and governance of the network. The governance working group discussed for example the legal status of ERGO, the criteria for membership and rights and responsibilities of members and the board.

 

Day 2 started with an introduction to different working areas of ERGO Network: The ERGO team and some of the members explained our work on Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), the Most Roma friendly Mayor campaign, our work towards the Post 2020 EU Roma Strategy and support for national advocacy and mobilisation.

In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to gain new skills for their work back home: Monika Mihaličková led the group through a process of creating fundraising campaigns for the projects of their organisations.  Another workshop focused on how to use graphic cues when facilitating meetings, held by Alejandro Gil Carasso.

Day 3 started with exchanging views on the priorities for advocating on the EU’s Post 2020 EU Roma Framework. The participants agreed that the most important topics that we should ask for are an increase of participation of Roma in all areas of designing and monitoring policies and continued EU support for the Western Balkans. National governments should commit to include support for Roma culture, language, history and actions to combat antigypsyism in the National Roma Integration Strategies.

In the afternoon, a group of participants had the opportunity to visit the Municipality Šuto Orizari (Šutka), where Roma are the majority with more than 13,000 inhabitants, and which is governed by a Roma mayor – Kurto Duduš.

Mr. Duduš took the time to meet the group and to explain important developments for the Romani population in the town. In his term, a new pre-school was built, the municipality invested in repairing main roads and the local high school doubled the number of its students. 25 of them were accepted to university this year! The municipality also has an outpatient clinic, where most inhabitants of Šuto Orizari and from nearby villages are treated.

The Annual Members Meeting 2019 closed with a party for all attending ERGO Network members.

We thank our member organization RROMA for welcoming us in Skopje and hosting us in these days!

Meeting with EC desk officers on CLLD

ERGO NETWORK DELEGATION OF NATIONAL MEMBERS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF LOCAL ACTION GROUPS MEET EUROPEAN COMMISSION DESK OFFICERS TO DISCUSS CLLD

 On 10 and 11 October, ERGO Network facilitated a meeting between its national members and representatives of Local Action Groups from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania, and the Desk Officers responsible for these countries from the European Commission Directorates- General for Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO), for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and for Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), to discuss the current state of implementation of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD).

ERGO Network has been working on CLLD approaches for the past seven years and considers it an essential tool for ensuring bottom-up approaches and interventions are rooted in real needs on the ground, with the full involvement of Roma communities. CLLD processes offer a great potential to engage Roma people more actively in shaping the future of their local areas, through the possibility to join local partnerships that design and implement an integrated local development strategy.

However, research conducted by ERGO Network in 2019 shows that further steps are needed to ensure the smooth implementation of CLLD initiatives, in what concerns both Roma engagement with its delivery structures, as well as prioritising Roma inclusion as a specific objection of the funded projects. Some of the key issues needing improvement, as identified by the report, are insufficient knowledge at the local level and in Roma communities about CLLD, low rate of participation of Roma communities and their NGOs in CLLD processes, and complex bureaucracy, burdensome administrative demands, and lengthy deadlines.

During the meetings with European Commission representatives on 10 and 11 October, the ERGO Network delegation presented the findings of the research report, while participants from the national level further complemented the synthesis conclusions with a wealth of detail regarding the situation in their specific countries. Additionally, the exchanges with desk officers focussed on the best way to tackle these shortcomings, specifically around three key topics:

  • How can we ensure an increased financial allocation for CLLD per country?
  • How to open the possibility for CLLD to use the multi-fund approach?
  • How to introduce a specific Roma indicator for CLLD projects?

The common discussion was followed by bilateral exchanges between the national representatives and their desk officer counterparts. All participants deemed the meeting very timely and useful in the context of upcoming negotiations with Member States on the Multiannual Financial Framework. European Commission officials thanked the ERGO Network for its involvement and hard work, which was considered extremely helpful also in preparing the Commission’s next meeting with National Governments, scheduled for November-December.

  • To know more about Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), please click here.
  • To consult an overview of ERGO Network’s activities on CLLD, please click here.
  • To access ERGO Network’s 2019 Synthesis Report on CLLD (see above), please click here.
  • For more information about ERGO Network’s current work on CLLD, please contact Director Gabriela Hrabaňová.

ERGO conference on education, 19 November

Roma access to mainstream education: ERGO Network annual conference

Time: 19 November 2019, 10:00-12:30

Place: Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, Rue Belliard 60-62 (Brussels)

We kindly invite you to attend ERGO Network’s conference on Roma access to mainstream education.

Education is an increasingly important topic in the European public and political discourse, with objectives on education in the Europe 2020 Strategy, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. However, the Roma are still too often left behind when it comes to accessing educational opportunities on equal footing with majority groups. Existing legal and policy tools, including targeted actions on Roma education, as well as infringement procedures, are not as effective as they could be in challenging ingrained patterns of Roma exclusion and discrimination.

The conference will be kindly hosted by the Members of the European Parliament Romeo Franz (Greens/EFA) and Peter Pollák (EPP). It will bring together ERGO Network members from the grassroots level, European civil society organisations and other Brussels stakeholders, and EU policy-makers across the institutional spectrum, to discuss how to achieve real policy change for Roma in the area of education.

Have a look at the agenda of the conference.

Please don’t forget to register for the conference by following this link.

Venue: Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union, Rue Belliard 60-62 (Brussels)

For questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch: info@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 10 49.

This conference is kindly supported by a grant from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

ERGO Network receives financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation EaSI (2014-2020). For further information please consult: http://ec.europa.eu/social/easi

OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

ERGO Network voices major steps to take to achieve true leadership and participation and to combat antigypsyism at the 2019 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Our Policy and Research Coordinator Jelena Jovanovic recently took part in the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) annual human rights conference: the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM). She read a statement on Roma participation and leadership and presented the work on developing concrete measures to combat antigypsyism, measures the Alliance against Antigypsyism proposes to the EU institutions and EU Member States as well as Candidate Countries.

During the working session ‘Roma and Sinti participation in public and political life’, Jelena Jovanovic spoke about participation as a human right and pointed out that committing to the empowerment of a systematically disempowered group to achieve true participation in various societal and political affairs would play a crucial role in advancing democratic governance, the rule of law and socio-economic development. ERGO Network called upon the OSCE Participating States to develop measures with direct Roma empowerment as an objective, to envision and foster quality participation at all levels and all stages of policy making, to develop national policies addressing Roma participation by positive actions, including in administrative personnel, while being conscious that Roma should not only be part of processes narrowly defined as ‘Roma issues’.

We also urged the Participating States to devise tools and resources for empowering grassroots organisations, to develop indicators to measure the frequency and quality of Roma participation and leadership and to contribute to diversifying Roma participation while embracing an understanding that besides ‘women’s’ and ‘youth issues’, Roma women and youth have diverse expertise and should also occupy high level positions. ERGO strongly emphasised that the same understanding should be applied to other social groups on the intersections of different categories of difference such as sexuality, class, disability, geographical location. Marginalised groups’ representation affects other people in similar positions to get more confidence to voice their needs.

During the side event focusing on “Racism, intolerance and violence against Roma and Sinti in the OSCE area”, we explained challenges with regards to legislation, policy development and concrete interventions. Many civil society organisations, the European Parliament, the European Commission, United Nations and other institutions and organisations highlight the persistent antigypsyism at all levels of European society, despite the efforts undertaken under strategies and action plans for Roma and national legislative frameworks against discrimination and hate crime.

ERGO Network called upon OSCE participating states to take stock of the situation and adopt complementary policy measures to respond to the challenges experienced by Roma in Europe. We suggested specific measures in terms of recognising present and historical responsibility and improving institutional frameworks, collecting data and monitoring antigypsyism and enabling access to justice.

You can read here our statements on participation and leadership and on combating antigypsyism and the ODIHR Third Status Report from 2018 focusing on participation in public and political life.

 

Civil society united in their demands for the post 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework

Civil society united in their demands for the post 2020 EU Roma Strategic Framework

Around 40 members of the civil society and other close partners worked hard in September to coordinate and prepare civil society’s input into the ‘Workshop on future policies for Roma’ organised by the European Commission’s DG Justice on 1 October 2019.

We organised two preparation meetings in ERGO Network: one on 16 September, ahead of a DG Justice consultation meeting, and another one on 30 September, ahead of the mentioned 1 October workshop.  We also organised an online meeting and had intensive communication over emails to be well prepared and give our best to put together our priorities in terms of concrete demands for the future EU policies for Roma.

Before the 1 October workshop, the European Commission published three short background papers to provide a basis for discussion. The background papers proposed six different policy options for a future EU Roma Framework:

  • Option 1: “Do less” – no new framework
  • Option 2: “Do the same” – carrying forward the current framework
  • Option 3: “Do differently (1)” – fighting antigypsyism approach
  • Option 4: “Do differently (2)” – Social inclusion approach
  • Option 5: “Do better” – a revised EU Roma Framework
  • Option 6: “Do more” – broadened approach to equality and inclusion

During the meeting on 16 September, we created four working groups, based on topics of the published background papers, expertise and interest of civil society actors and we split the responsibilities to analyse the papers. We were soon ready to present our analysis to other civil society partners during the next civil society meeting in ERGO Network on 30 September.

Our position: Option 7

During the 30 September meeting, after very intense and fruitful discussions, the civil society partners agreed to present an “Option 7” at the European Commission workshop the following day. Option 7 can be seen as a combination of options 3,4 and 6, as it takes a double approach of focusing on social inclusion and combating antigypsyism. It combines mainstreaming of Roma inclusion across policy areas with a stronger monitoring component, asks for ensuring funding and puts emphasis on the importance of Roma participation.

At the 1 October workshop, ERGO Network Director Gabriela Hrabanova opened the civil society statements by presenting our option, and Roma civil society as a whole convinced with taking a very strong and united position, asking for a new Council Recommendation on Roma inclusion and combating antigypsyism. The activists furthermore also advocated for a new focus on so far unaddressed forms of antigypsyism such as environmental injustice.

As a follow-up to the workshop, we are asking for Option 7 to be further developed by the European Commission’s experts. Together with our partners we also continue to pursue other advocacy goals, such as asking the Fundamental Rights Agency to develop indicators to measure Member States’ answers to antigypsyism.

We now need everyone on board to continue lobbying for our demands also within the Member States and aim to create a strong and wide civil society support for an effective Post 2020 Framework both in the EU and in neighbouring countries.

If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with ERGO at g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org.