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.

Minimum Standards for Minorities in the EU

On Monday 3 September 2018, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) held a mini-hearing on minimum standards for minorities in the EU. The respect for the rights of persons belonging to minorities is one of the EU’s founding principles and the effective protection of minorities across the EU needs to be strengthened.

ERGO Network Executive Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova was one of the experts invited to the hearing to give input to the Committee’s report on the topic.  She pointed out that Roma and other minorities enrich the diverse cultural heritage of the EU; the protection of their rights, however, is currently not ensured. EU Member States have different definitions for minorities and apply different standards for their protection. There is a need for a common understanding and definitions, but also for ensuring the protection of minorities especially against discrimination and any forms of racism.

The Roma Civil Monitor, a project issuing civil society shadow reports on National Roma Integration Strategies in 27 EU member states, shows that even where Roma are recognised as minority, respect of their rights is still lacking or the minority status is only granted for ‘autochthonous’ Roma and not those of migratory background.

ERGO Network believes that the lives of minorities in every country are fragile; the policy frameworks on minorities are depending on political will and societal climate.  For Roma the situation is even more difficult, as there is no home country standing behind them to support the growth of their cultural heritage and language or to ensure the full recognition and protection of their rights. The European Union is the safeguard that brings hope to many.

Minimum standards for minorities should ensure rights to both ethnic and national minorities. They should also pay attention to intersectionality, especially when it comes to discrimination of LGBTI and people with disabilities.

During the hearing, Gabriela Hrabanova furthermore expressed the importance of addressing antigypsyism as core problem for the exclusion of Roma. “Antigypsyism is not explicitly recognized in the relevant policy and legislative documents and antigypsyist crimes are often not seen as such by the responsible institutions”, says Hrabanova. As stated in the European Parliament Resolution on fighting Anti-Gypsyism from 2015 and in the LIBE Committee Report on Anti-gypsyism from 2017 the situation of Roma is worsening and there is a need for urgent action to ensure the remedy of the centuries’ long discrimination and marginalization.

Member states should take both proactive and reactive measures to safeguard equal access of members of minority groups to services, goods, information, etc. and to provide mandatory trainings to duty-bearers.

But importantly, there will be no achievement without real and systemic consultations of minority groups at local, regional and national level to prepare, run, monitor and evaluate both minority specific and mainstream programmes in order to ensure their inclusiveness and non-discrimination.

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

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.