Looking back at the EU Roma Week 2019

Looking back at the EU Roma Week 2019

From 18-21 March 2019, the fourth EU Roma Week took place in Brussels, jointly organised by several Members of the European Parliament, the EU Commission, the UN Human Rights Office in Brussels and civil society organisations. The Roma Week offered a framework for a series of events discussing Roma-related policies and giving the spotlight to the fight against antigypsyism. ERGO Network played a leading role in a number of events held during the week.

The Roma Week would not make any sense without the active involvement of Roma activists from across Europe. Therefore, together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, the Documentation and Cultural Centre and ternYpe International Roma Youth Network, ERGO Network invited a group of youth activists to prepare for the week in the Roma Youth Advocacy Training. Moreover, ERGO Network coordinated the participation of the most important Roma civil society activists in Europe under the umbrella of the ‘Alliance against Antigypsyism’ together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.

Before the start of events in the European Parliament, ERGO members from the project Joint Initiative to Empower Roma Civil Society in the Western Balkans and Turkey attended the conference Roma Inclusion in the Western Balkans: The Forward Look, Policy v Reality, Where the new World Bank report “Breaking the Cycle of Roma Exclusion in the Western Balkans” was launched.

The first event in the European Parliament was the crucial Reality Check: Evaluating the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, where results of the Roma Civil Monitor were discussed. ERGO Network’s advocacy and research coordinator Jelena Jovanovic highlighted good practices and shortcomings of measures combatting antigypsyism, and several civil society representatives gave an overview of their national monitoring reports.

On Tuesday evening, two award ceremonies celebrated individuals for their contribution to Roma inclusion: The European Civil Rights Prize for Sinti and Roma was awarded to the Slovak President Andrej Kiska, and 14 inspiring women activists received the EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey under the theme ‘Unknown Heroes’. As a surprise during the Western Balkans award event, Soraya Post MEP received an award too, for her outstanding support to the fight against antigypsyism in the European Parliament.

On Wednesday, ERGO Network together with Cornelia Ernst MEP brought the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a tool to support the fight against antigypsyism to the agenda. The panel discussion was held together with Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), Sozialfabrik and Soraya Post MEP. The panellists discussed recommendations to civil society on how to use the 2030 Agenda, brought by ERGO Network in the new paper ‘Roma Included’.

The flagship event of the week was the conference ‘Creating trust through uncovering and recognising the truth: Advancing recognition and remedy for antigypsyism’, jointly hosted by Soraya Post MEP, the Central Council for German Sinti and Roma, Fundacion Secretariado Gitano (FSG), UN Human Rights Office in Europe, the Open Society European Policy Institute and ERGO Network. The stock-taking conference focussed on discussing the state-of-play and efforts to advance the fight against antigypsyism through truth, recognition, remedy, trust and reconciliation processes. It also gave voice to several survivors of acts of antigypsyism who shared their stories and highlighted the urgency to act against antigypsyism.

Members of the European Parliament from different political groups signed a pledge affirming that they will continue to work to achieve non-racist EU elections, an effective Post-2020 EU Roma Framework and a continuation of the fight against antigypsyism in the new legislative period. The undersigned MEPs pledged to create a European society in which Roma can access and enjoy their rights set in our Treaties, in which Roma can fulfil their true potential, in which dehumanisation of Roma is stopped, a healthy European society free from racism, such as antigypsyism – a Europe that we can be proud of.

Now it is time to let actions follow the words and spirit of cooperation conveyed during the week. We ask all participating institutions to fulfil the promises made during the Roma Week and work together for an effective EU Roma Framework and an increased fight against antigypsyism.

Credits photo on top: © European Union 2019 – EP/Didier BAUWERAERTS

Roma demand to be included in the SDGs

Roma demand to be included in the SDGs

At the heart of the EU Roma Week 2019, which brought over 100 European activists and stakeholders to Brussels, policy-makers and civil society met for the first public debate on Roma and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The debate was co-hosted by Cornelia Ernst, MEP of the Left Party, and the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network together with Soraya Post MEP, Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and Sozialfabrik.

The debate was opened by Cornelia Ernst MEP who stated that “the global development agenda can and should be an important lever for fighting antigypsyism and racism”, calling to mind that the EU Roma Framework “has failed because it did not include the Roma community”. ERGO Network Director Gabriela Hrabanova stressed that “the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the promise of governments to leave no one behind provide crucial opportunities for advancing the rights of Roma in Europe”.

Stefan Meyer of Fresno Consulting presented the discussion paper ‘Roma included’, which was launched by ERGO Network with the event, and brought to the table recommendations for civil society on how to engage with the 2030 Agenda.

Reacting to the presentation, Henriett Dinók from Romaversitas highlighted the challenges for Roma organisations to keep track with new programmes and principles: “We here who have access to information on the SDGs, have to collect it, share it and use it to advocate! Then the SDG fora will serve as a platform for us to shape the narrative and to raise our demands.”

 

Paul Divakar, Chairperson of the Asia Dalit Right Forum, brought the global perspective to the panel and pointed out that the SDGs must be designed in a way that they also serve those who are excluded in their societies, across the globe. “If we are not named in the indicators, if there are no data, what do we do? That´s why need to fight for our rights together.”

On behalf of the European Commission, Katarina Ivanković Knežević, Director for Employment, Social affairs and Inclusion in DG Employment, stressed the potential of the SDGs to address questions of the inclusion and discrimination of Roma, and better take into account intersectionalities of gender and disability. Gesa Boeckermann (Policy Officer, Non-discrimination and Roma coordination Unit, DG Justice and Consumers)  highlighted that not only are the SDGs an important roof for policies related to Roma but that in reverse, by achieving Roma inclusion, the EU could also make an important step in its commitment to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Romeo Franz MEP (Greens/EFA) closed the debate by underlining that (pro)Roma activists need to use the 2030 Agenda for supporting their fight against antigypsyism, as this racism is the main reason for the social exclusion of Roma across Europe.

Watch a record of the discussion here:

Roma Included: Can the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to combatting antigypsyism? Co-hosted by Cornelia Ernst MEP and Soraya Post MEP, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and Sozialfabrik on 20 March 2019

EU Roma Week 2019

From 18-21 March 2019, the fourth EU Roma Week in the European Parliament will take place, with the active involvement of ERGO Network, its members and civil society partners.  The Roma Week consists of a series of events discussing  the current and future EU Roma rights agenda, hosted by Members of the European Parliament.

It will be preceeded by a Roma Youth Advocacy Training, bringing together over 30 young people to prepare their inputs to the week and learn more about EU advocacy. This five days lasting seminar is organized by ternYpe International Roma Youth Network, ERGO Network, Phiren Amenca and the Documentation and Cultural Centre & Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.

Additionally, civil society representatives will attend a meeting of the Alliance against Antigypsyism.

ERGO Network will be actively participating in the events in the European Parliament. Besides co-organising the panel debate ‘Roma Included: Can the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to combatting antigypsyism’, ERGO and its members will participate in discussions on the current and future EU Roma Framework and on creating truth and reconciliation commissions.

For more information, please contact info@ergonetwork.org

ROMA INCLUDED: Can the SDGs contribute to combating antigypsyism?

Ahead of the 4th EU Roma Week, ERGO Network published a new discussion paper entitled   “ROMA INCLUDED: Can the Sustainable Development Goals contribute to combatting antigypsyism?”.

With this paper, ERGO Network intends to trigger the debate among Roma activists on how to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than three years after the proclamation of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs can provide opportunities for advancing the inclusion of Roma and for countering antigypsyism. Almost all of the 17 global goals are closely connected to the needs of Roma communities – from accessing clean drinking water and affordable energy to quality education and employment, from reducing inequalities to peace, justice and strong institutions.

In order to use the opportunities the 2030 Agenda can provide, the Roma rights movement needs to become familiar with the SDGs, identify strategic entry points for advocacy and develop guidelines for local action.

We thank José Manuel Fresno, Stefan Meyer y Cristina Herranz from Fresno Consulting who drafted the paper and genuinely supported our aims with their expertise.

Roma rights organisations respond to EU inclusion plans

Brussels, 6 December 2018: Today, a coalition of more than fifteen Romani and anti-racism civil society organisations from across Europe called for the Council of the European Union, and governments of European countries, to make a clear commitment to the new proposals for post-2020 Roma inclusion plans made by the European Commission in its communication to the European Parliament and Council yesterday.

Director of ERGO Network Ms Gabriela Hrabanova welcomed the new Communication: “The Commission and Parliament have clearly positioned themselves for a continued investment in Roma Inclusion after 2020. Now is the time for national governments to do the same, to strengthen their fight against antigypsyism and to update and improve their strategies in line with community needs by working alongside Romani civil society.”

The new communication from the Commission highlighted key elements to improve the EU Roma Framework including: the need for inclusion of Roma in mainstream policies, fighting antigypsyism, improving Roma participation, addressing the diversity amongst Roma, and better data collection, target indicators and reporting in integration strategies.

“Until now, Roma Inclusion plans in EU member states and accession countries have failed to include measures to fight antigypsyism, and have largely failed to significantly improve the situation for Roma across Europe” said Ðorđe Jovanović, President of the European Roma Rights Centre. “The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies after 2020 must serve to counter the effects of the specific structural racism which affects Romani populations throughout Europe.”

The organisations explicitly call for measures in European countries to recognize present and historical antigypsyism as a form of racism; counter and sanction manifestations of antigypsyism in public discourses, public services and institutions; empower civil society, and ensure that the necessary legal and institutional mechanisms are in place and implemented to prosecute hate crimes and hate speech. It is time for European governments to give priority to “reinforcing and distinguishing the focus on antigypsyism as a root cause of Roma exclusion” as concluded by the EU High Level Group on Combatting Racism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance in their guidance paper on antigypsyism.

European institutions have to make sure that the next EU budget cycle (Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027), which is currently under negotiation, is connected to policy priorities of the EU Roma Framework including the fight against antigypsyism. In addition, partnership agreements with Member States and operational programs must explicitly name Roma as an investment priority. The next cycle of funding must ensure that funds are also available for specific measures to fight antigypsyism, and to allow the efficient operation of civil society organisations to hold governments accountable and to ensure fundamental rights of Romani citizens across Europe.

For more information, or to arrange an interview contact:

Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova
Executive Director
ERGO Network
info@ergonetwork.org
+32(0)2 893 10 49

The coalition of organisations includes:

Alliance against Antigypsyism
Central Council of German Sinti & Roma
European Network against Racism
European Public Health Alliance
European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network
European Roma Rights Centre
FAGiC Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña
Jaw Dikh Foundation
La Voix de Roms
Nakeramos
Nevo Parudimos
Roma Active Albania
Romanipe
Roma Education Fund
RROMA Regional Roma Educational Youth Association (Macedonia)

Notes for editors:

The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies was adopted by the European Commission in 2011. It requires member states make provision to address inequalities in their countries which Roma face in education, employment, healthcare, and housing.

Antigypsyism is the specific racism towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. The term is often used in a narrow sense to indicate anti-Roma attitudes or the expression of negative stereotypes in the public sphere or hate speech. However, antigypsyism gives rise to a much wider spectrum of discriminatory expressions and practices, including many implicit or hidden manifestations. More information is available in the reference paper on antigypsyism.