Roma inclusion through local partnerships

On 3 December 2018, ERGO Network concluded the first year of its 4-year work programme RIISE (Roma Included in Social Europe) with a panel debate discussing how Roma inclusion can be fostered through meaningful local partnerships.

Emphasising the importance of Roma participation in all stages of decision-making, from the local to the European level, is one of the founding principles of ERGO Network, and many of our activities focus on building trust and partnerships between Roma communities and institutions.

During the panel debate, the speakers highlighted several angles, good examples and pitfalls of partnerships on local level.

The event was opened by introductory remarks from Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA and Andor Urmos, Policy Analyst, Directorate General for Regional Policy, European Commission.

It was followed by a panel moderated by former ERGO Network director Ruus Dijksterhuis, who discussed with Dominique Be (DG Employment), Maaike Buyst (Eurocities), Dijana Pavlovic (Upre Roma Italy), Valeriu Capraru (National Federation of Local Action Groups Romania), Tobias Mayr (Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe) and Andrey Ivanov, Fundamental Rights Agency.

Dijana Pavlovic opened the panel by describing the local reality in Italy, where the level of antigypsyism also in local authorities is extreme. Building partnerships is difficult in a climate where Romani people always have to fear to lose their home during regular evictions.

Dominique Be presented the ROMACT programme, a joint initiative between the European Commission and the Council of Europe that seeks to assist mayors and municipal authorities to work together with local Roma communities to develop policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including Roma. Maaike Buyst spoke about several good practice examples of municipalities in Eurocities Roma inclusion working group, for example Ghent or Goteburg, including Roma mediators, Roma councils and other initiatives. Tobias Mayr presented the Declaration against anti-Gypsyism of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers.

Valeriu Capraru spoke about opportunities and challenges for Roma inclusion through Local Action Groups in the CLLD process. Andrey Ivanov, Head of Sector Roma and Migrant Integration, Technical Assistance & Capacity Building, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: presented the new report of the Local engagement for Roma inclusion” (“LERI”) project.

It became clear that two issues are important: Partnerships need to be backed by proper funding and capacity-building of both Roma civil society and local authorities, and antigypsyism need to be tackled on all levels in order to ensure trust of Roma towards institutions.

The conference was closed by ERGO board member Adriatik Hasantari together with Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of Unit Non-discrimination and Roma coordination European Commission, DG Justice, and Marie-Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Expert, Social Affairs & Inclusion, European Commission, DG Employment.

After the debate, the participants were invited to celebrate the ten years anniversary of ERGO Network together with ERGO staff and members, going together through the history of ERGO empowering the Roma grassroots and bridging Roma realities with EU policy-making.

 

Study Session ‘Knowledge is Power – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism’

Study Session ‘Knowledge is Power – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism’

A study session “ Knowledge is Power  – Youth Understanding Antigypsyism” was organized by ERGO Network and TernYpe International Roma Youth Network in cooperation with the European Youth Center Budapest of the Council of Europe from 7  to 13 October 2018.  During this study session, 20 Romani and Non-Romani young people came together to gain a deeper understanding of what antigypsyism is through different means of portraying elements of antigypsyism. The aim of the study session was to contribute to the development of a youth-friendly version of the reference paper on antigypsyism that can be understood by all. The participants had the chance to be creative and work together to comprehend, interpret and shorten some parts of the aforementioned reference paper.  Afterwards they could present the outcomes and outputs of these working groups. What was really interesting and praiseworthy noticing was the eagerness of the group to participate in the production of this exciting publication, which will be available soon.

The study session started with getting to know each other in order to get comfortable with one another, since antigypsyism is a very sensitive theme and the youth group consisted of  a diverse group of young people such as the Roma youth, travelers and non – Roma participants. Some of these youngsters were students at universities and some were already working for an NGO or had just started to run their own NGO. One thing they had in common was their experience with discrimination and realizing that antigypsyism has several stages.

In the last two days, the working groups were divided according to different themes. There were four themes; case studies, counter strategies, visuals and non – formal education. The participants from the case studies group found cases related to antigypsyism from different countries (eg. sterilization of Romani women). The group on counter strategies prepared some strategies how to combat antigypsyism on the basis of what they have learnt throughout the week. The group on visuals prepared very interesting material on how the “youth-friendly” version on antigypsyism could look like. And the group for non – formal education prepared detailed workshops whereby youth could learn about this theme.

 

A great deal of work was done by all the participants of the study session. The inputs were of a great importance and will further be used for drafting the youth friendly version of the reference paper

Diversity in the European Union – The case of Roma in Europe

On the occasion of the Austrian EU Presidency Romano Centro in co-operation with European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network and the House of the European Union in Vienna invites  you to a panel discussion  Diversity in the European Union – The case of Roma in Europe. The event takes place on Thursday, November 8th at 6.30 p.m.

Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Europe. As a result of century-old antigypsyism in mainstream society Roma women and men are disproportionately affected by racism and discrimination, poverty and social exclusion. In order to improve the living situation of Roma women and men and to provide equal opportunities and rights to all EU citizens, in 2011 the European Commission adopted the Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020 (EU Roma Framework) that obliges all EU Member States to develop and implement national strategies for Roma in the fields of education, employment, housing and health. Since then EU Member States have set national goals and committed financial resources to foster social inclusion and anti-discrimination of respective Roma populations.

At the same time, in recent years we witness a rise of populist and right wing groups and political parties in Europe – inside and outside the EU – and public discourse scapegoating migrants, refugees, faith com- munities and other minorities such as Roma. These groups are made responsible for social problems and become target of populist hate speech and hate crimes.

The recent violent attacks against Roma, for example the stabbing of a Roma man in Ukraine, the killing of a young Roma girl in Greece this June, the racist attack against a Roma man in Slovakia, or the anti-Roma rhetoric of the Italian Minister of Interior Salvini, who announced a census and deportation of Roma migrants, are only few examples of this t trend.

Two years before concluding the EU Roma Strategy in 2020 and in the middle of deliberations on the next EU programming period 2020-2027, we take the opportunity of the Austrian EU Presidency to look at the results so far and the challenges encountered, and to discuss how widespread antigypsyism obstructs the achievement of equal rights and opportunities for Roma in Europe.

Please register at office@romano-centro.org.

 

Click here to see the full invitation and speakers list.

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

2017 ERGO Network Annual Report

ERGO Network’s annual report for 2017 is now available. Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report and learn how ERGO Network and  its members introduced and pursued numerous initiatives to fight antigypsyism and to empower Roma in 2017. In addition the annual report 2017 presents the initiatives undertaken by ERGO to ensure networking between, and capacity building of member organisations. The report contains relevant information and graphs on the achievements and progress made to strengthen the Roma community. ERGO Network will definitely keep the wheel rolling to support the implementation of more and better measures for Roma.

Read the  2017 ERGO Annual Report

ERGO’s recommendations for the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework

ERGO Network and its partners urge the European Commission to prioritise the position of Roma in Europe in the next Multi- Annual Financial Framework

ERGO Network together with the Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI) and 70 national and local Roma civil society organisations is asking EU decision-makers to dedicate funding for the social inclusion and empowerment of Europe’s largest minority in the next EU Multi-Annual Financial Framework.

ERGO Network presented key recommendations to the post 2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework in the European Parliament at the event “Roma and the post 2020 policy: Challenges and opportunities”. The event was opened by Member of the European Parliament Ms Soraya Post. It was organized in cooperation with Open Society European Policy Institute, Roma Standing Conference Bulgaria, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European Public Health Alliance and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

Even though social cohesion in the EU stands and falls with the effective inclusion of Europe’s most marginalised community – Roma – as well as other minorities, they are not direct beneficiaries of cohesion policy funds, a troubling sign regarding future funding. Besides this lack of direct access to funding for Roma communities, ERGO with its partners identified a number of shortcomings that must be addressed in the next funding cycle of the European Union, namely compliance with the rule of law as a condition for Member States to receive EU funds as well as effective monitoring mechanisms on the use of EU funds for Roma inclusion.
Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, pointed out that “integration of Roma failed, because so far Roma people and civil society are not full partners in all stages of processes such as Partnership Agreements”. She also stressed out that “there is a need of active involvement of beneficiary communities to be part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the programs in the next programming period”.

Marc Horstadt from the European Court of Auditors stressed “mainstreaming vs. dedicated funding for Roma to follow the explicit but not exclusive principle for better results and this to be highlighted in the next programming period”. He also mentioned “the need of having indicators and target values which are relevant for fighting antigypsyism. These indicators should also be taken into account in the design of measures promoting the inclusion of marginalised Roma communities within the ESIF framework, in line with the requirements of the racial equality directive”.

We now urge the European Commission to follow the recommendations provided and ensure that future political priorities of the European Union will prioritise Roma as a target group in all relevant areas of funding,
policies and programming in order to truly foster social cohesion within the European Union and to leave no one behind.

You can read the recommendations here.