ERGO Summer Academy showcases campaign ideas for Roma youth employment

In ERGO’s Summer Academy, taking place from 26 August to 2 September in Barcelona, a group of outstanding participants from across Europe joined forces to work together on a thematic campaign to raise awareness on Roma youth unemployment. The one-week long ERGO Summer Academy hosted 19 young professionals alongside the team of ERGO Network and guest trainers from Greece and Bulgaria.

The academy invited participants to join as experts from ERGO member organisations, other Roma NGOs and local or national administrations to discuss emerging issues of social exclusion, education and employment, and what a multi-stakeholder agenda for quality education and better employment can achieve regarding Roma youth.

Raising awareness on the plight of Roma youth employment has never been more important: 58% of Roma aged 16 to 24 are not in employment, education or training. At the same time, in countries such as Romania or Bulgaria up to 20% of new labour market entrants are Roma.  The new financial cycle of the European Commission will start in 2021, thus reminding decision-makers on what is at stake is of great importance.

The participants used the Academy to create an awareness raising campaign that will be launched at this year’s EU Roma Platform in Brussels.  The work started with differentiating the terminology and discussing the issues relevant to the context of employment. After hearing experiences and personal stories of participants, the group gained first-hand knowledge on the employment context in Barcelona through the initiatives of `FAGIC`, a Catalonian Roma network. To conclude the learning part of the week, Leonor Rebassa from Amnesty International introduced the group to all to the very details and best practices of thorough campaign planning.

In the second half of the week, innovative ideas for an ERGO youth employment campaign were brought to the table from working groups. In the last two days, it started to be clear what the campaign will look like, and finally, 4 initiatives made it to realization. They will be launched at this year’s European Roma Platform, which will be held in Brussels on 27/28 November on the topic of ‘Transition from Education to Employment’. ERGO’s campaign will focus on antigypsyism and discrimination on the labour market and addresses decision-makers and employers from the perspective of young Roma themselves.

Besides all their hard work, the participants of the event soon acclimatized to the fantastically located venue of Mare de Deu del Coll, and enjoyed mid-summer heat from the very early mornings till late nights that left enough time for networking between ERGO’s members and making new friends. Not only the sea at Barceloneta, but the whole week has been a refreshing experience to all participants.

Advocacy Training in Romania

Between 14 -16 August, the association Center of Resources for Social Inclusion CRIS, ERGO member, organized a training course on ‘Advocacy for combating antigypsyism and discrimination towards Roma’. The training was organized in Sinaia, Romania for ten Roma students and higher education graduates from Prahova County. Today, the ten participants are good friends and well-trained in undertaking advocacy for combating negative attitudes towards Roma in Romania and not only, as they said after the training. All because they understood that if they do not train and do not get involved, tomorrow they can be the next victims.

The training is part of CRIS’ Annual Work Plan 2017 in cooperation with ERGO Network. It has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation “EaSI” (2014-2020).

Youth Camp ‘Turn on Activism’

In order to bring young people closer to the activist spirit, the Association of Citizens for the Promotion of Roma Education, “Otaharin”, currently implements a project named “Youth power rising”. Through this project we organize three youth camps in three years with support of the Schüler Helfen Leben Foundation.

Young people represent an extremely important category of the population and are future bearers of change in society; therefore it is necessary to pay adequate attention to their needs, attitudes and desires, as well as support the development of youth activism.

The youth camp “Turn on activism” is a five-day program in which young people have the opportunity to participate in the development of a strategic plan to solve problems identified in their community and then to solve the problem through the project. The aim of this activity is to promote positive change of everyday life through the active involvement of all young people in creating better social opportunities. The young people from the City of Bijeljina can participate in the camp.

As a result of three years working with this particular group of people (participants of past camps and project activities), we realized their need to create and form a youth organization on local level that will give them the chance to make bigger steps to positive change in community. In this camp, they will work on the strategic plan of this organization, and they will work on increasing their skills in working with a group, positive communication and leadership.

Member States need to step-up their efforts

 

On June 27 2016 the European Commission published their Communication on  the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies in 2015 and reviews, for the first time, Roma integration measures put in place under the Council Recommendation 2013. The report is based on information submitted by Member States about their efforts made to integrate Roma, supplemented by input from civil society. ERGO Network concludes that the report clearly indicates a lack of action in crucial areas – also in those Member States with a significant number of Roma. Therefore, ERGO Network supports the urgent call of the European Commission on Member States to address the key priorities and step up their efforts.

In this note we present a brief examination of the European Commission’s (EC) assessment and indicate how it can be used by Roma Civil Society in their national advocacy.

The 2016 report consists of two parts: a summary ‘Communication’ – which presents a brief overview of the measures reported by the Member States, in thematic order- and a ‘staff working document’ that presents country-by-country assessments and highlights examples of practices in the various thematic areas.

In the country fiches the European Commission presents the information provided by the Member States along with its own assessment. In many cases, the assessment is critical and points to a lack of action or indicates that Member States still face considerable challenges to realize the potential of the measures they reported. Therefore, although in the first part of the report (the ‘communication’) the overview tables appear praise the Member States for taking certain measures, a closer look at the individual assessment of each country’s performance, shows a much more critical perspective. This critical perspective is also clearly reflected in the Conclusions (pp. 16 – 18) that call on the Member States to urgently address a number of key priorities.

In this note, ERGO Network points to a number of conspicuous gaps in Member States’ performance. Also, we present some critical remarks on the reporting process and framework. It aims to invite ERGO Network members and other civil society actors to highlight the Commission’s assessment and recommendations before national governments, and to attentively read the country-fiches (pp. 37 – 98) to verify the information reported by Member States and, where necessary, supplement the Commission’s assessment with additional critical notes.

Find the full report here: Member states need to step up their efforts