How realistic is the new EU programming period when it comes to Roma?

How realistic is the new EU   programming period when it comes to Roma?

 

Last month the European Commission has launched their proposals for the next European Union Multi Annual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 called “A Modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends”.   The MFF is meant to increase solidarity, social cohesion and social protection and will be supported by a series of proposals and financial instruments such as ESF+ ERDF, InvestEU, Eramsus+  etc. These proposals are under discussions and until the final approval in 2019.

ERGO Network fed into the process of the European Commission in drafting and proposing new priorities for its programmes and frameworks targeting Roma  through a  set of specific recommendations in which we address a number of shortcomings that must be tackled in the next cycle.

The proposed MFF did mentions  some general points that are in line with our suggestions, such as the fact that there should be an open and transparent monitoring process, that the EU funds shall not support actions that promote segregation and that there should be more focus on capacity building for civil society organisations.

Roma are mentioned in the proposal of the MFF: “promoting socio-economic integration of third country nationals and of marginalised communities such as the Roma”. However, this narrative implies that they are still not seen as European citizens; furthermore there are no specific indicators that would reflect a stronger focus on Roma inclusion in the current proposal.  The annexes of the proposal  only briefly mention that there should be “inclusion of the thematic enabling conditions such as National Roma Integration Strategy”.

ERGO Network also calls upon the European Council and the European Parliament to ensure in their negotiations that the EU Framework for Roma Integration will continue.  The ERGO secretariat together with the Alliance against Antigypsyism  sent recommendations to Members of the European Parliament  ahead of the European Parliament plenary debate on 13th of June on the Implementation of and follow-up to the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. Our position was clearly strengthened by most of the European Parliament Members. They argued in favour of a renewed post-2020 EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, which should address antigypsyism as a central priority.

However, the 25% earmarking for social inclusion under the ESF+ , the main fund supporting Roma inclusion, is still not enough. So far most of the EU member states have easily reached this amount in the current ESF framework and still there has been little or no progress in tackling poverty, discrimination and social exclusion.

Without a clear Framework, thematic objectives and specific budget lines, Roma, as the biggest minority in the EU, will again be lost in the new programming period mixed under the marginalized groups and competing with “third country nationals”

ERGO will continue to monitor the discussions and negotiations in Brussels and ask a strengthened EU Roma Framework with clear objective and indicators and sufficient resources to address inclusion and Antigypsyism.

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.

Roma and the Post–2020 Policy: Challenges and Opportunities

ERGO Network together with its member organizations will be present at a meeting where they will discuss and present the recommendations they and their partners prepared regarding Roma people in the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework’s post-2020. In advance of the meeting, some background information is provided. We will keep you updated on the event tomorrow.

The current Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU’s long-term budget, runs until the end of 2020. This May, the European Commission will put forward a comprehensive proposal detailing the budgetary objectives and regulations governing the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework. Currently at the core of these proposed objectives are the protection of EU’s external borders, support for a true European Defense Union, boosting Europe’s digital transformation, and making the EU’s cohesion and agricultural policies more efficient.

Civil society organizations have identified a number of shortcomings concerning the budget, particularly regarding human rights standards, rule of law compliance as a condition to receive EU funds by member states, and effective monitoring mechanisms on the use of EU funds, including funds spent on Roma inclusion. In the current proposal, the Roma people—as well as other minorities—are not direct beneficiaries of cohesion policy funds, a troubling sign regarding future funding.

This conversation about human rights issues in the EU, featuring European civil society organizations in partnership with national Roma and pro-Roma organizations, will focus on the future political and budgetary priorities of the Union concerning Roma populations.

Speakers

  • Josef  Weidenholzer is a member of the European Parliament, Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D).
  • Soraya Post is a member of the European Parliament, S&D.
  • Jávor Benedek is a member of the European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
  • Claude Cahn is a human rights adviser for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova is executive director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network.
  • Freek Spinnewijn is director of the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA).
  • Nikolay Kirilov works for the Roma Standing Conference.
  • Zsombor Farkas is assistant professor of the Social Work Department at ELTE University.
  • Marc Hostert is head of cabinet of Henri Grethen, reporting member responsible for the audit at the European Court of Auditors.
  • Marie-Anne Paraskevas is senior policy expert at the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion of the European Commission.
  • Andor Urmos is policy analyst for the Directorate General for Regional Policy of the European Commission.

 

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors

PRESS RELEASE

Brussels, 09/04/2018

 

Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network Award the Most Roma Friendly Mayors at the 3nd EU Roma Week on April 9, 2018

 

Roma Active Albania and European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network organized an award ceremony in the European Parliament to acknowledge positive examples of local authorities – eight Mayors from the Western Balkans and Turkey. The campaign “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is part of the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their existing capacities to engage in a dialogue with public authorities.

The eight winning mayors, selected from 49 competing municipalities, were welcomed by the Member of the European Parliament Ms Soraya Post, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ms Mila Carovska, the Director-General of the European Commission DG Near Mr Christian Danielsson and the Director of Roma Active Albania and General Manager of the project Mr Adriatik Hasantari.

Ms Post explained the importance of cooperation between all the stakeholders by pointing out the relevance of participation of mayors in fighting antigypsyism. “We are looking forward to have more mayors who will take full responsibility”, she stated. Mr Danielsson highlighted the ways of support by the DG Near and the investments of the European Union under IPA II in the Western Balkan and Turkey. “The commitment shown by the mayors and local organizations should inspire future efforts to continue the good work”, he asserted, and assured future commitment of the DG NEAR as well. Ms Carovska highlighted the importance of partnership of governments with Roma civil society organizations in implementing the strategic plans for Roma integration. “We have to work for the development of the whole region”, she argued by pointing out the importance of joint efforts. Mr Hasantari introduced the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey focusing on “the Most Roma Friendly Mayor” component. He concluded with the strong message: “When Roma civil society is strong, authorities perform better!”

The awards were given to the following eight mayors: Mr Erion Veliaj, Municipality of Tirana, Albania; Mr Mićo Mićić, Municipality of Bijeljina, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Mr Blagoj Bochvarski, Municipality of Štip, FYROM; Mr Burim Berisha, Municipality of Fushë Kosova, Kosovo; Ms Snežana Matijević, Municipality of Tivat, Montenegro; Ms Latinka Vasiljković, Municipality of Odžaci, Serbia; Mr Osman Genç, Municipality of Canik, Turkey and Mr Hayri İnönü, Municipality of Şişli, Turkey by Ms Post, Mr Danielsson and Mr Hasantari.

Seven independent juries were established in the respective countries, assessing the applications and comparing the facts with the realities. The juries pointed out the progress in having a concrete and budgeted Local Action Plans, efforts in creating education-related opportunities, support for social entrepreneurship, improvement of infrastructure in terms of roads, lighting, sewage and water supply, newly built apartments, Roma participation in local authority structures, and some results are visible in the fields of employment and health as well as in applying holistic approach.

After the award ceremony, all participants were invited to a luncheon discussion. Ms Gabriela Hrabanova, the director of ERGO Network, invited the participants to engage and open about challenges they face and think about how they can work together to find solutions. The award was followed by discussions about the situation of Roma in the Western Balkan and Turkey by speakers ranging from civil society representatives, mayors and the National Roma Contact Points to members of the European Parliament, the European Commission and international organizations. Main questions that lead the discussions were the following: how can the participants overcome specific challenges they are facing from their own positions and how do they see the development of the positioning of the enlargement countries’ Roma agenda in the post-2020 EU programing period.

The Award Ceremony is organized in the framework of the EU Roma Week 2018 held from April 9 to April 12, 2018 to mark the occasion of the International Roma Day on April 8. The International Roma Day in 2018 commemorate the 47th anniversary of the first Romani Congress that was organized in London in 1971. The third EU Roma Week is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Parliament, together with civil society and international organizations.

Hosting MEP of the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award Ceremony: Soraya Post

 

All the events of the Roma Week can be found at https://www.ardi-ep.eu/roma-week-2018/. Contact: Jelena Jovanovic (j.jovanovic@ergonetwork.org, +32 486 451 393).

 

Disclaimer: This press release has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The content of the release is the sole responsibility of Roma Active Albania and ERGO Network, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

 

 

Alliance Against Antigypsyism Drafts Recommendations for Post 2020 European Programming Period

Alliance against Antigypsyism and its partners work intensively to create recommendations for the Post 2020 European programming period

On the 14th of March 2018, ERGO Network together with European Network against Racism (ENAR) and Central Council of German Sinti and Roma organized a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

The aim of the meeting was twofold. The participants explored two topics. One of them is Roma inclusion in EU social and employment policies and another one specifically about the antigypsyism framework at the EU level and beyond. The ultimate aim was to discuss the draft papers authored by some members of the Alliance themselves and contribute into the content by discussing specific relevant policy processes and by formulating recommendations. New steps were jointly set in creating the two documents with recommendations with purpose to help the institutions with clear guidelines that will be used as an advocacy tool by stakeholders in their work on Roma and the post 2020 programming period.

Other participation organizations such as Open Society European Policy Institute (OSEPI), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), Roma Active Albania, OTAHARIN, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Romano  Centro, Slovo 21, Romea, European Roma Right Center, Sozialfabrik, Society for the Research on Antigypsyism, were consulted in order to help make the recommendations feasible and relevant ranging from the international to the national and local level perspectives.

Secondly, a joint advocacy work occurred in light of preparation for the upcoming European Commission consultation meeting organized by DG JUST a day after, on 15th of March. The key objective of the consultation was to collect views on the implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies launched in 2011 and running until 2020. Our discussion was yet another coordinated action among various civil society stakeholders aiming at reaching a common agreement on priorities and possible action plan that will lead our work in 2018 and further so we achieve strong Roma inclusive policies after 2020.