ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children

ERGO Network asks for end to segregation of Romani children 10 years after landmark decision of European Court on Human Rights

Press release – Brussels – 15/11/2017

10 years ago 18 Romani children from Ostrava in Czech Republic received a positive verdict of the European Court on Human Rights, acknowledging that placing them in segregated substandard education for children with mental or intellectual impairments constitutes a violation of their human rights.

This decision on the D.H. case on 13 November 2007 constituted a turning point for Roma children and their families in Europe, as for the first time a court ruled that segregation in education is unlawful.

Still today, however, Roma children continue to be perceived as outsiders and intruders in European countries where they have lived for centuries and are often denied access to quality education.  In Central and Eastern Europe, segregation mechanisms channel on average30 percent of Roma students into ethnically segregated and lower quality schools and classes.

Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, points out: “Putting our children into segregated schools is a direct manifestation of racism, deriving from the deeply embedded structural antigypsyism in the practice of authorities, institutions and society as a whole”.

Segregation in education does not only seriously harm the prospects of Roma students who don’t receive quality education, are at greater risk of poverty and are stigmatised for the rest of their lives; it denies all children the benefits of diversity in education and the chance to learn from one another. Parents need to be better informed and mobilised in order not to send their children to segregated schools.

ERGO Network calls on the European Union and its Member States to strictly follow-up on the infringement procedures for discrimination against Roma students launched against the governments of Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic and to step up their efforts to ensure equal citizenship of the 6 Million Roma in the EU.  This can include a local ex-ante conditionality for accessing EU funds that will put in place local desegregation plans, continued civil society monitoring on the implementation of National Roma Integration Strategies and the use of EU funds and stronger efforts to combat antigypsyism throughout the EU.

Download the press release here.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO) brings together over 25 (pro) Roma grassroots organisations from across Europe to empower communities, fight antigypsyism and achieve equal citizenship.

Contact: Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova (g.hrabanova@ergonetwork.org, +32 2 893 1049), www.ergonetwork.org

Closer to Communities – Roma Coordinators for better use of EU Funds

ERGO member Autonomia Foundation from Hungary recently published a set of recommendations based on the outcomes of their project “Closer to Communities – Roma Coordinators for better use of EU Funds”, supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Union.

The general purpose of the “Closer to Communities” programme was to increase the efficiency of projects benefitting from EU structural funds. The programme was implemented in 15 disadvantaged communities where a large number of Roma live – these communities were assisted by local Roma coordinators in their local development.   The Hungarian National Association of Local Authorities (TÖOSZ) participated in the implementation and supported the national dissemination of lessons learnt. ERGO Network contributed to the presentation and dissemination of results at international level.

As a result of the programme, 11 applications for Roma integration projects were submitted to EU Calls for Proposals, which will provide close to 1 Million Euro worth of local development funds if supported. Hundreds of local governments were directly informed of the project at the county forums and in workshops organized jointly with TÖOSZ. In addition, dozens of mayors were involved in discussions on Roma integration challenges and possible solutions. The experiences and suggestions of the project were presented at a working group meeting in Brussels with different experts and civil servants of the European Commission in May 2017.

The main recommendations focus on better dissemination of good practices, stronger conditionality of European funding, more transparent funding rules as well as more core funding for Roma and pro-Roma NGOs in order to act as independent watchdog organisations.

Read more about the project results and recommendations here.

As one outcome of the project, local communities took part in common art projects, focusing on community video making. Have a look at the film ‘Closer to Communities’ .

Evaluation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020

In 2011 the European Commission adopted an EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies focussing on four key areas: education, employment, healthcare and housing. The Framework invited all Member States to present the European Commission with their strategy for Roma inclusion or for specific policy measures for the Roma within their wider social inclusion policies. The main responsibility as well as the competences to improve the situation of all marginalised people, including the Roma, rest with the Member States.

In their midterm review of the EU Framework published in September 2017, the European Commission asks particularly for improvements in the transition from education to employment and confirms ERGO Network’s assessment that in order to achieve more social inclusion, discrimination has to be better tackled: “The growing proportion of young Roma who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) is an alarming signal that translating results in education into employment and other areas requires a more effective fight against discrimination (p.2)”.

Public consultation

At the same time, the European Commission collects stakeholders’ views on the achievements and challenges faced during the years of implementation of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020. A public consultation aims to gather views on European and national policy, legal and funding instruments that have been mobilised to fight discrimination and to promote the inclusion of Roma.

We urge all our members and partners to take part in this consultation, which is still open until 25 October 2017. You can find the link here:

https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/public-consultation-evaluation-eu-framework-national-roma-integration-strategies-2020_en

Stakeholder Workshop ‘Building-up quality of life in the local area’

Stakeholder Workshop ‘Building-up quality of life in the local area’

On May 16 Eurofound organized a stakeholder meeting on the topic ‘Building-up quality of life in the local area’. Dr. Ileana Rotaru from Nevo Parudimos and ERGO member presented the perspective of Social hubs in rural Europe: social inclusion and Roma integration.

Between 2017 and 2020 Eurofound will carry-out exploratory research on ways to build up quality of life in the local area, whether urban or rural. In particular, it seeks to investigate two questions:  a) what physical and social factors in the local area are of particular importance for people’s quality of life? and b) what can be learned from initiatives to enhance quality of life in the local area?

Our input to the meeting was that Roma communities cannot be forgotten when the ‘local dimensions’ of quality of life is targeted  in this project. We stressed the necessity of including Roma in different types of initiatives and policies aiming to improve quality of life.

Present at the meeting were Mr. Tadas Leonikas from Eurofund, Eurofound Research Manager Mr. Hans Dubois, different stakeholders from EU state members and municipalities and  European Commission representatives:  DG EMPL (Unit: Modernisation of Social Protection Systems), DG SANTE (Unit: Health determinants and inequality) and  from DG REGIO (Unit: Inclusive Growth, Urban and Territorial Development).

Successful 2nd EU Roma Week

Successful 2nd EU Roma Week

ERGO Network was one of the co-organisers of the 2nd EU Roma Week that was held from 27th to 3rd April 2017 in the European Parliament to mark the occasion of International Roma Day on 8th April.

Around 200 representatives of public institutions and civil society took part in a series of events dedicated to Roma integration in Europe.

The public institutions were represented by DG Justice, DG NEAR, the Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Parliament as well as the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti of OSCE/ODIHR. Civil society was represented by a number of young Roma activists and representatives of the European Roma Rights Centre, the Roma Initiatives Office of Open Society Foundations, ERGO Network, Ternype International Roma Youth Network, The German Central Council of Sini and Roma, the Spanish Fundacion Secredariado Gitano and many more, making the week a very useful space for all stakeholders of Roma integration to discuss their work.

A youth advocacy training led by ERGO Network, TernYpe, the German Council of Sinti and Roma and the German Documentation and Culture Centre for Sinti and Roma prepared 40 young Roma advocates to take part in all Roma week events and to advocate for their rights after their return to their home countries.  In three working groups focussing on antigypsyism, inclusion and political participation they discussed their experiences, learned about the institutional frameworks and agreed on the messages that they took forward in the debates in the European Parliament.

A workshop on strengthening diverse leadership, participation of Roma in public and political life organised by the Contact Point for Roma and Sinti of the OSCE/ODIHR invited participants to discuss diversity in mainstream political parties and decision-makings and draw comparisons between Europe and the US. The participants all agreed that the public narrative on Roma must change to combat antigypsyism, and that this effort must be led both by Roma and Non-Roma.

The European Commission’s Directorate General for the European Neighbourhood and Enlargement awarded the 2nd EU Roma Integration Award for the Western Balkans and Turkey to organisations supporting Roma children, youth and young adults.  3 members of ERGO Network, Otharin Bosnia, Rroma acedonia and Mladi Montengero were rewarded for their work.

The participants of the award ceremony also took part in a discussion on improving impact of EU funding and Roma integration policy in the enlargement region through partnership with Roma civil society.

The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament used the occasion of the EU Roma Week to launch their new publication “Countering Antigypsyism in Europe”, outlining achievements and failures of combating antigypsyism in the EU, outlining problems of segregation and the political dimension of antigypsyism, as well as pointing out the fight for recognition of Roma in public and civic life.

A very important discussion on the future of the EU Roma Framework took place in the event “Taking stock of the EU Roma Framework and National Roma Integration Strategies”, with a view to building a post-2020 strategic approach, which brought together all relevant stakeholders to provide input to the mid-term assessment of the Framework as a step for improving the remaining years and for shaping the next programming period.

Invited by the Greens and the S&D Group, the European Roma Rights Centre gave evidence on how strategic litigation can be used to challenge racism in court, especially when it comes to forced evictions and school segregation.

Soraya Post, one of two Roma MEPs in the European Parliament, invited Holocaust survivors to give testimonies of their life and their activism to raise more awareness of the Roma Holocaust and call for a Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.

Roma activists from the EU and enlargement countries finally met with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the European Commission for a working breakfast to bring the voices and visions of Roma youth to decision-makers and discuss their concerns, challenges and realities. They highlighted how Roma youth have become strong agents of change for their communities and how political leaders across Europe can contribute to the fight against antigypsyism.

Such an intensive programme of debates and discussions cannot be successful without a good informal time, too. All participants and partners celebrated at the big Roma Week Party hosted by ERGO Network and danced to the music of two Roma bands.

We would like to thank all partners involved, and especially the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup who coordinated all events, for the common efforts and the good dialogue that will continue in the coming months.