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.

Roma Civil Monitor: the third cycle

Roma Civil Monitor partners gather at the Central European University to define the topics of the third round of civil society monitoring reports

Image credit CEU / Andras Dimeny (kepszerk.hu)

The year 2020 will mark the final year of the current EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, within which Member States have developed their own national targeted policies for Roma or ‘sets of policy measures’. Since 2012 the Commission has been reporting annually on the implementation by the Member States and since 2016 the Member States have been reporting to the European Commission. Civil society efforts to produce reports about the implementation from their perspective were intensified in 2017 when the Commission funded the Roma Civil Monitor project.

The project involves about 90 civil society organizations and experts from all EU Member States (with the exception of Malta) as well as four NGOs with experience working internationally on Roma-related issues, including ERGO Network.

Monitoring reports are available for the first cycle, which investigated how the Member State strategies combat antigypsyism and discrimination, governance and, for the countries with the largest Roma communities, the impact of mainstream education policy on Roma. The findings of the second cycle are also now available. During this cycle, the reporting in all countries focused on education, employment, healthcare and housing.

This year in September representatives of the Roma civil society coalitions met at Central European University in Budapest to discuss which topics they are hoping to address in the third cycle reports. This time the focus will be on what has been missing from the implementation or from the strategies themselves, so the content will vary from country to country.

Some of the topics discussed were the following: Antigypsyism in policymaking; Ensuring Roma inclusiveness in mainstream programmes; Integrated approaches for Roma inclusion; Civil society, empowerment and participation; Social services, fighting homelessness, substance abuse; Youth, children protection and rights, parenting skills, 0-3 care and many other topics. ERGO Network’s advocacy and research coordinator together with colleagues from the Center for Policy Studies lead the workshop on combating antigypsyism and targeting mainstream. Many participants found the topic relevant and identified specific problems that they intend to address in their national context. The next step is both assisting the CSOs and experts in the preparation and the actual preparation of the third cycle reports.

We expect that the publication of the third cycle shadow reports will describe to what extent the situation has developed and where the biggest “blind sports” are, which would be one of the tools and resources used in the process of creation of the new EU Roma Strategic Framework.

Roma participation in Community-Led Local Development

Roma participation in Community-Led Local Development

Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) is an initiative for involving citizens at local level in developing responses to today’s social, environmental and economic challenges, and a promising tool for investing in Roma inclusion. The European Commission expects CLLD to facilitate implementing integrated approaches among the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to achieve the 11 thematic objectives set out in the Common Provision Regulation (CPR) at local level. It aims to give ownership to beneficiaries, with a special focus on marginalized communities, through capacity building, empowerment, full transparency, and sharing of the decision-making power. The Commission encourages the use of CLLD to allow local communities to take ownership of the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

ERGO members conducted research in four key countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania), aimed at assessing the extent to which Roma inclusion was mainstreamed throughout the CLLD processes, in what concerns both the content of the activities, as well as stakeholder involvement. The research was funded through the International Visegrad Fund.
This research was aimed at ensuring increased awareness of the CLLD process, leading to more Roma NGOs taking part in CLLD. Another aim was that CLLD, as a good practice tool, would be continued after 2020, with 10% of EU funds being distributed according to CLLD principles.

Download the report here.

Roma grassroots perspectives on poverty alleviation

New publication: Roma grassroots perspectives on poverty alleviation

In 2018 in the framework of ERGO’s Annual Work Programme ‘Roma Included in Social Europe’ (RIISE), ERGO Network members from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic conducted seven comprehensive local case studies that contribute to a better understanding of the impact of National Roma Integration Strategies (NRISs) and relevant mainstream measures on local Roma communities. The topic of the case studies was how access to quality education and employment as well as antigypsyism affect Roma people’s economic situation.

We have now published a synthesis report that can serve as evidence concerning implementation of the EU Roma Framework and mainstream social policies on the grassroots level, which can support the EU institutions’ work on making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality.

The main objective is to fill the gap and bring more perceptions of Roma into Roma-related discourses. Therefore ERGO members explored Roma people’s perspectives on the causes of poverty that can potentially say more about barriers to poverty reduction efforts and implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategies and social policies (if any). Fostering participation of Roma in voicing their needs and positions about what causes their economic situation is crucial for our work.

You can read the synthesis report here.

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.