Roundtable in the European Parliament on Transparency Criteria

Transparency and Accountability Criteria for Roma Grassroots NGOs

Brussels, 28 June 2018

At a round table discussion in the European Parliament ERGO Network and its members from the Western Balkans, Turkey and the ‘Visegrad countries’ Hungary, Slovakia and Czech Republic presented a new project that will strengthen Roma civil society as independent and transparent watchdog organizations.
The event was kindly hosted by Soraya Post (Greens/EFA), Peter Niedermuller (S&D), Tomas Zdechovsky (EPP) and Javor Benedek (Greens/EFA).

Being transparent and accountable are important prerequisites for the effectiveness of civil society that is taken seriously by its institutional counterparts and other partners, and at the same time gives the right to demand transparency and accountability from other stakeholders.
–Therefore ERGO Network developed a set of ‘transparency and accountability criteria’ and a corresponding capacity-building tool to improve the quality in governance, financial management and performance of grassroots organisations.

The discussion was opened by ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova who stressed the importance of promoting transparency and accountability within NGOs and among institutions.

Benedek Javor MEP welcomed the transparency criteria through a video message. “In particular I found especially meaningful the goal for equal partnership with the institutions for the better connection with the grassroots level and greater sustainability of NGOs” Benedek Javor said. He also stressed the importance of funding for NGOs in order to be able to fulfill the duties as watchdogs organisations. Tomas Zdechovsky MEP added that the spotlight on Roma participation in the European Parliament needs to happen all year long and not only during the Roma Week.

Jelena Jovanovic, Policy and Research Coordinator of ERGO Network presented the transparency criteria and explained the cooperative development process between all partners, followed by Andras Nun, director of the one of Hungarian ERGO member organisations Autonomia Foundation who introduced the participants to a board game ‘to help you fall in love with the dreadful issues of accountability and transparency’.

In the second panel of the day participants heard from Vitor Teixeira, Transparency International Europe, about the importance of not just being transparent as civil society, but more so holding institutions to account. Gabriella Civico from Civil Society Europe discussed the shrinking space for civil society in Europe and repeated the call for better funding for civil society’s watchdog role.

The debate was closed by Bodil Valero MEP and Natacha Katatchkine, Head of the EU internal policy team for the Open Society European Policy Institute. Bodil Valero and Natacha Katatchkine added that the lack of transparency has been used by those who want to silence things. She closed by pointing out that NGOs are ready to take the lead and are able to bring tools like those of ERGO Network.

The project was implemented with financial support from the European Commission and the International Visegrad Fund.

Download the Transparency and Accountability Criteria