Let actions follow words – Proclamation of European Pillar of Social Rights

Today, at the EU’s Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg, the European Commission, European Parliament and European Council jointly proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Social Pillar has been published on 26 April 2017 by the European Commission as a summary of existing EU social legislation. Its aim is to serve as a guide towards a more social Europe and ‘upward convergence’ of social policies in the EU Member States. The Pillar includes 20 principles under three chapters: Equal opportunities and access to the labour market; Fair working conditions; social protection and inclusion.

For Roma as the most marginalised ethnic minority in the EU, with 80% at risk of poverty, only 30% in paid work and only half attending pre-school education, the European Pillar of Social Rights could mean an important step forward – if EU Member States take their commitment for a more social Europe seriously.

ERGO Network strongly urges European leaders to make of the Social Pillar more than just a proclamation and prevent it from becoming an empty shell. After the important step today, it is now time to let actions follow words. The principles touch on issues such as protection against forced eviction, access to essential services, inclusive education and the right for children to protection from poverty – all issues that, if tackled properly, can mean a real advancement for the social inclusion of Roma in the EU.

Now is the time to put dedicated budgets in place to make a social Europe a reality – a Europe that pays particular attention to its most disadvantaged citizens and does everything it can to reduce inequalities.

Workshop on trafficking in Roma children

ERGO Network’s research and advocacy coordinator Jelena Jovanovic held a workshop addressing the trafficking in Roma children in the framework of the seminar ‘Combatting the exploitation of children’ organised by the Benelux working group on human trafficking on 17th November 2017. The workshop was organised and co-facilitated by Maaike van Groenestyn, senior advisor of the municipality of Amsterdam.

In two consecutive workshop sessions, the participants could share their experiences in dealing with trafficking as well as learn about new approaches from ERGO’s expertise and from each other.

After hearing case studies brought by Christiane Roelants from the Brussels Police, the participants discussed all the possible factors they believe put Roma children in a vulnerable position, as well as specific forms of trafficking where Roma child victims are (over)represented. They also reflected on challenges in identifying and dealing with cases of Roma children victims of trafficking and offered solutions to overcome the challenges. It was highlighted that antigypsyism plays an important role as a risk factor for Roma children victims of trafficking. A particular focus was given to the role of institutions and organizations in the anti-trafficking policy mechanisms.

CLLD Training for Local Action Groups and potential beneficiaries

ERGO member Nevo Parudimos from Romania organised its first training on Community-Led Local Development for Local Action Groups and potential CLLD beneficiaries. The training was held in cooperation with the National Federation of Local Action Groups on 15/16 November 2017 in Tecuci, Romania.

The 40 participants, representing 10 LAGs from the South-East region of Romania, Roma NGOs and Roma from local communities, learned how CLLD can be used for the development and funding of projects targeting Roma communities. Parts of the programme were held for both LAGs and beneficiaries together in order to exchange ideas and create partnerships. During other parts the group split into two in order to focus on the specific needs of both groups.

The training was made possible thanks to the financial support of the European Commission’s EaSI programme through a Framework Partnership Agreement between ERGO Network and DG Employment.

If you would like to read more about ERGO’s work on the CLLD, visit our website.

 

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children 10 years after landmark decision of European Court on Human Rights

Press release – Brussels – 15/11/2017

10 years ago 18 Romani children from Ostrava in Czech Republic received a positive verdict of the European Court on Human Rights, acknowledging that placing them in segregated substandard education for children with mental or intellectual impairments constitutes a violation of their human rights.

This decision on the D.H. case on 13 November 2007 constituted a turning point for Roma children and their families in Europe, as for the first time a court ruled that segregation in education is unlawful.

Still today, however, Roma children continue to be perceived as outsiders and intruders in European countries where they have lived for centuries and are often denied access to quality education.  In Central and Eastern Europe, segregation mechanisms channel on average30 percent of Roma students into ethnically segregated and lower quality schools and classes.

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, points out: “Putting our children into segregated schools is a direct manifestation of racism, deriving from the deeply embedded structural antigypsyism in the practice of authorities, institutions and society as a whole”.

Segregation in education does not only seriously harm the prospects of Roma students who don’t receive quality education, are at greater risk of poverty and are stigmatised for the rest of their lives; it denies all children the benefits of diversity in education and the chance to learn from one another. Parents need to be better informed and mobilised in order not to send their children to segregated schools.

ERGO Network calls on the European Union and its Member States to strictly follow-up on the infringement procedures for discrimination against Roma students launched against the governments of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and to step up their efforts to ensure equal citizenship of the 6 Million Roma in the EU.  This can include a local ex-ante conditionality for accessing EU funds that will put in place local desegregation plans, continued civil society monitoring on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies and the use of EU funds and stronger efforts to combat antigypsyism throughout the EU.

Download the press release here.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) brings together over 25 (pro) Roma grassroots organisations from across Europe to empower communities, fight antigypsyism and achieve equal citizenship.

Contact: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 1049), www.ergonetwork.org

Invitation: Public event on Roma youth employment

Investing in our future – what work(s) for young Roma

ERGO Network Public event

Monday 27th November, Mundo B, Brussels

09:00 – 12:30, followed by networking lunch

Equality of employment opportunities for young Roma is fair and just, but also a smart economic choice: It is an effective way to improve growth prospects and respond to the demographic challenge of rapidly ageing populations in EU Member States. Investing in young Roma breaks the cycle of poverty, discrimination and exclusion. It can yield high returns and can deliver the kind of lasting change that many policies and programmes have so far failed to achieve.

At ERGO’s Public Event, we will discuss the issue with representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament and Council of Europe, present qualitative research done by ERGO members in five EU member states on youth employment measures and launch a campaign to mobilise support for investing in employment opportunities for young Roma.

The campaign will be centred on views and messages of young Roma themselves. We aim to convince decision-makers to support employment of young Roma and break the stigma that Roma do not want or can work. The campaign aims to make clear that young Roma want to work and can have opportunities, if sufficient investment is done and they receive the right support.

Download the programme here.

Please confirm your participation by 21st November here.