Western Balkans summit

Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement processs signed at Western Balkans Summit

The sixth annual summit within the Berlin Process Initiative for European integration of Western Balkans states was held between 3rd and 5th of July 2019 held in Poznań.

At the initiative of North Macedonia, the Western Balkan countries signed a Declaration on Roma integration in the EU enlargement process as a pledge for their reiterated commitment to continue and enhance efforts for full equality and integration of Roma through implementation of specific set of measures in the areas of employment, education, housing, health, civil registration and non-discrimination.

With the Declaration they pledge to achieve the following objectives:

  • A. Employment: Increase the employment rate of Roma in the public sector to the rate proportional of the participation of Roma in the overall population; Increase the employment rate among Roma to at least 25% percent;
  • B. Housing: Wherever possible, legalize all informal settlements where Roma live; or provide permanent, decent, affordable and desegregated housing for Roma currently living in informal settlements that cannot be legalized for justified reasons;
  • C. Education: Increase the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in primary education to 90 percent and the enrolment and completion rate of Roma in secondary education to 50 percent;
  • D. Health: Ensure universal health insurance coverage among Roma to at least 95 percent or to the rate equal to the rest of the population;
  • E. Civil Registration: Ensure all Roma are registered in the civil registries;
  • F. Non-Discrimination: Strengthen the government structures to protect against discrimination and establish a specific sub-division for non-discrimination of Roma within the formal non-discrimination bodies to process complaints by Roma, provide legal support to alleged victims and identify discrimination schemes, including institutional and hidden discrimination.

Governments of the Western Balkan countries understand that progress on Roma integration is progress towards enlargement. The participation of strong Roma civil society organizations from the countries of the region was crucial.
National Roma civil society organizations from the Western Balkan countries have been strongly represented in the Summit, and their presence was of crucial importance to this process. Sitting alongside the government representatives, the message they sent is that the Roma civil society organizations in the Western Balkans have grown and are consolidated to be considered a partner in the activities and actions towards Roma integration, but also showing that Roma civil society organizations may play an important and critical role in the monitoring and guiding governmental institutions in their Roma inclusion processes.


RCC also introduced the results of the Balkan Barometer 2019, which showed “modestly optimistic” regional perceptions and attitudes across a wide array of social, political and economic factors impacting life in South East Europe.

Grassroots Advocacy Academy for multipliers

ERGO Network Grassroots Advocacy Academy for multipliers

23-28 August 2019, Rehlovice (Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic)

Traditional ways of advocacy seem less and less effective, particularly when working in countries with far right governments and a high level of populism in politics. If grassroots activists want to advocate for combatting antigypsyism, empowering Roma and promoting social inclusion, they have to find new partnerships and new approaches to be effective.

In our Grassroots Advocacy Academy for multipliers, we want to share experiences with advocacy in difficult environments, build capacity for effective advocacy in our membership and support multipliers in organising national or local advocacy trainings for Roma activists.

We invite you to an interactive 5-day programme in a nice environment in Czech Republic to share experiences, learn from each other and together build more capacity to advocate effectively for Roma empowerment.

Objectives:

  • Explore and analyze different methods, ways and approaches of grassroots advocacy and community organizing
  • Share knowledge and experiences between ERGO Network members
  • Equip multipliers with knowledge of EU-driven Roma related policies that can support local advocacy
  • Equip multipliers with competencies and guiding principles to implement national or local advocacy trainings for Roma activists

Profile of participants:

  • Staff members or volunteers of (pro-)Roma civil society organisations OR
  • Staff members or volunteers of human rights organisations or training institutes
  • Experience in advocacy (and ideally also in capacity-building for advocacy)
  • Knowledge of Roma issues
  • Able to communicate in English

Conditions

The participation in the Academy is free thanks to a grant of the International Visegrad Fund and the European Commission’s EaSI programme. ERGO Network will cover the travel and accommodation costs.

We have 20 places. In case more people would like to participate, we will select based on motivation and geographical balance.

The Academy will take place from 23-28 August 2019 (including arrival and departure date)

in Rehlovice close to Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic at:  https://penzion-u-svate-barbory.hotel.cz/

Transfer from Prague will be organized.

If you are interested to participate, please register here by 13 June 2019.

Download the call for the ERGO Network Grassroots Academy.

 

 

Most Roma-friendly Mayor

Regional campaignMost Roma Friendly Mayor

We are launching the 2019 call for the regional campaign for the most “Roma Friendly Mayor” in the framework of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey“, implemented jointly by Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network. The campaign aims to increase awareness of and change attitudes towards Roma inclusion and contribute to overcoming the many barriers on the way.

An important part of this campaign is the “Most Roma Friendly Mayor”competition, which is simultaneously implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The award-winning mayors from Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, The Republic of North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey will participate in a special event in October 2019 in Brussels to meet a high representative from the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement (DG NEAR).

The campaign will strengthen the dialogue between municipalities and Roma communities and make best practice examples visible. The selection of the “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” can help  communities to make their vision a reality on how municipalities and the Roma community can come together and engage in a dialogue on an equal level.

The campaign will focus on positive examples of Roma integration. Moreover, the selection criteria will emphasize the project philosophy of empowerment, mobilization and equal dialogue between local authorities and Roma communities between 2018 and September 2019.

The competition will be open from April 8th until September 6th 2019. An independent jury will be established and select the winner of the contest based on the given questionnaire.

The partners of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey” will carry out local information sessions to further brief the interested municipalities on the campaign and competition.

Application documents:

  • The completed application form
  • Articles, news, reports, protocols or any document that support your responses in the application form
  • Feedback /assessment from the Roma community regarding the municipality
  • Pictures

The application form can be mailed to: info@raa.al or to any of the implementing partners until September 6th 2019, local time 23:59.

 For general inquiries you can also contact info@ergonetwork.org or check the facebook page of the event.

Partners:

This activity is implemented in the framework of the project “Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society on the Western Balkans and Turkey” (JIERCSWBT), financed by the European Union.

Voluntary work with and for Roma communities

Voluntary work with and for Roma communities

Romanian ERGO member Nevo Parudimos Association has more than 5 years of experience in volunteering projects. The organisation has hosted more than 30 volunteers and sent more than 15 volunteers to different European countries.in the last years.

A big part of our work is based on local or international volunteers. Our projects promote volunteering at local level as a tool to promote inclusion.  Our project “For a kid smile”, which involved 2500 Roma and non-Roma local volunteers, was a finalist in the Erste Stiftung Roma integration projects award, being considered a good practice in the field.

Currently we are hosting 15 volunteers from across Europe and are searching to recruit five more coming from EU countries, Macedonia and Turkey for our ongoing projects:

  • Volunteering and Education for Civic Involvement
  • Volunteering for a smile
  • V for Volunteering
  • Yes to volunteering

The main activities of our international volunteers are: non-formal education and prevention of school dropout in schools from poor neighborhoods of Resita; promotion of volunteering and civic involvement; learning foreign languages and promoting interculturality, tolerance and understanding among young people or activities to increase the involvement of young people in decision-making.

You can find more information here.

In November 2018 our association opened the Nevo Parudimos Youth Center, a place that is coordinated together with EVS volunteers. The main goal of the center is the development of social, cultural and artistic activities with and for disadvantaged youth (with a focus on Roma youth) in Resita Citi (80.000 inhabitants). The youth center offers  volunteers opportunity for self-development and creates a safe space for EVS volunteers to learn and practice non – formal education methods for their professional development.

Need for mapping of Local Roma Communities

Our Romanian member, Center of Resources for Social Inclusion CRIS in October organised two meetings in Ploiesti with the representatives of 10 Local Action Groups (LAG) from South-Muntenia and South-East Regions and of 2 newly established Urban Local Action Groups from Ploiesti and Campina, within the framework of the Annual Work Programme 2018 supported by the European Commission’s Program for Social Innovation and Employment.

The aim of the meetings was to strengthen the cooperation between Roma civil society from local level and LAGs in regards to accessing, implementing and monitoring of measures affecting Roma communities in the Local Development Strategies (LDS).

The handbook on Training for local stakeholders and Local Action Groups teams on CLLD and how to increase the access to funds available in the LEADER program for Roma developed by Nevo Parudimos, another member of ERGO from Romania, was presented to participants and it was considered to be useful for the implementation of the LDSs.

While improvements have been done since last year’s meetings with the LAGs, by having Roma communities from local level and especially the urban marginalized communities from Ploiesti and Campina included in the LDSs through specific measures, more needs to be done according to the representatives of LAGs.

For example, the Urban LAGs mentione had to refer to the official number of Roma in the two cities according to the late census in 2016 when they developed the strategy. As this number is obviously lower than the reality, the measures targeting Roma in the strategy could have been more than only one or maximum two as it is now.

Therefore one of the main conclusions of the meetings was the need for mapping of the local Roma communities to be recognized, assumed by each ministry, and to be taken into account in the future financial allocations, with Roma among the target groups.