Project Market “New solutions to old problems”

Project Market – “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration”

On 21-22 April 2021 the partners in the project “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration” gathered online for the “Project Market”, where they shared their best practices of Roma inclusion and empowerment projects and “bid” on each other’s projects to implement similar initiatives in their own communities.

The event showed the great wealth of experience of Roma civil society and the impact that bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion, empowerment and fighting antigypsyism can have.

For the event, all partners had to identify up to 3 local good practices from their own or their partners’ work on Roma inclusion and empowerment. These good practices were presented in the ‘Project Market’ to other consortium partners so everyone could select someone else’s good practice that fits to their own community needs.

Projects that were ”won” at the ”auction” will need to be adapted to different contexts, planned in detail with the community and will then be kicked off. The ‘project owner’ who proposed this project will act as a coach during the entire period. The good practices will include for example supporting companies to recruit Roma employees, a mothers’ center, a volunteering program with elderly homes and a motivational re-training project for unemployed Roma. All partners are rooted in local Roma communities so they can easily reach out to and involve their target group.

The meetings also gathered guests from numerous International Organisations, embassies and and partner civil society organisations, among them the EEA and Norway Grants, EU Justice and Consumers, the Embassy of Norway, Tom Lantos Institute, ERSTE Foundation, Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma, Hildegard Lagrenne Stiftung.

“New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration” is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.

DG JUST widens dialogue with civil society

DG JUST widens dialogue with Roma civil society and anti-racism civil society organisations

In its intention to ensure a greater transparency and inclusion of wider Roma and pro-Roma civil society organisations at national level in implementing the EU Roma Roma Framework on  equality, inclusion and participation, the European Commission launched a call for expression of interest to NGOs in supporting the work at European Union level and their readiness to participate in consultation processes. All CSOs who expressed their interest will be informed regularly about important policy developments. Moreover, according to the experience and knowledge of the organisations, based on the information provided in the expression of interest, the Commission services will determine the list of CSOs and/or alliances of CSOs who will be invited to contribute to consultation processes, in particular on the monitoring of the implementation of the Roma policies at EU level. All expressions of interest by the 22 June 2021 will be carefully reviewed based on outreach capacity, work topics, expertise, size and type of CSO as well as the following criteria:

  •  independent status and legal registration in the EU, featuring a democratic decision-making mechanism as well as a mission and values aligned with those of the European Commission;
  •  proven expertise of at least 3 years in one or more of the following: policy, research, advocacy work concerning Roma equality, inclusion and participation, as well as legitimacy of the CSO’s representations (community ties, accountability to beneficiaries and/or members);
  •   respect for pluralism of opinion, tolerance and personal integrity of the representatives is mandatory;
  •   good working knowledge of English as this is the working language of CSO consultation meetings; and
  •   demonstrated ability to engage in constructive dialogue with other governmental and/or non-governmental organizations is highly valued.

In addition, the applicants have to be registered in the EU Transparency registry, proving their legal constitution, including proof of grant of legal personality, evidence of internal rules procedure, audited financial statement for the last 2 years or any other official document demonstrating the annual income; annual activity reports for the last 2 years or any other published reports or research as evidence of Roma-relevant work; and CV(s) of the CSO representative(s).

For the above mentioned call more information can be found  here.

A similar call has been launched for anti-racism civil society organisations or the implementation of the EU Anti-racism action plan with a small difference in that there is no minimum limit on the years of proven expertise in the case of antiracism CSOs and that in their case they should have worked on at least one or more of the following: policy, research, advocacy work concerning racial and ethnic equality and anti-racism; and in at least one or more of the following thematic areas: racial justice, equality, reparations and decolonisation, anti-migrant racism.

More information about the anti-racism CSO call can be found here.

Different than in the case of Roma organisations, antiracism CSOs fear that this mechanism could restrict access of more radical NGOs, including pro-Muslim associations which have been banned or accused of inciting to hatred, for being vocal against Islamophobia, particularly in France, under the leadership of President Emmanuel Macron. With a growing victimization of human rights defenders and NGOs, EU institutions should ensure depolitization of antiracism civil society work and build further trust and cooperation with antiracism NGOs.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on anti racism contact Isabela Mihalache , Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.

Fighting antigypsyism as a precondition to achieve equality for Roma

Regional Conference: Fighting antigypsyism as a precondition to achieve equality for Roma

On 22 June, ERGO Network together with the Central Council for German Sinti and Roma, the Roma Active Albania and Equinet co-organised the Regional Conference: Fighting Antigypsyism as a Precondition to Achieve Equality for Roma – The Role of Ombudsperson Institutions and Equality Bodies. The Conference brought together equality bodies, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations from Western Balkan countries, European Commission Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany. Participants discussed on the role of equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national Roma strategic frameworks to tackle antigypsyism based on the principles of non-discrimination and equality set out in the EU Treaties, reaffirmed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.

Some of the conclusions highlighted inter alia that equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions:

  • have a mandate to deal with discrimination using civil and administrative law and most of them have a mandate to deal with hate speech using their general mandate for promotion of equality and fighting discrimination or broadly interpreting their mandate to tackle harassment.
  • should also have a mandate to start own-initiative cases and use strategic litigation as an effective means to reach an impact that goes beyond the individual case.
  • even in the absence of an explicit legal mandate to cover certain issues related to antigypsyism (such as hate crimes, for instance), can gather information, commission or conduct studies to reveal the extent and manifestations of antigypsyism
  • can contribute with independent reports in the implementation of national Roma strategic frameworks.
  • should raise awareness about antigypsyism and widely communicate positive, values-based messages; use their powers to advise governments and other policymakers so that policies and legislation contributes to challenging antigypsyism; use their powers to work with duty bearers, such as employers and service providers, to spread good equality practices
  • should ensure close and structured cooperation with civil society. Equality bodies should enter into a constructive dialogue with pro-Roma civil society that should include mutual education where each party shares their unique knowledge and expertise
  • work closely with Roma and involve them in their activities – as trainers and trainees, as valued partners and as employees of the equality body and ombudsperson institution.

The conference also emphasized the need for equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions to be provided with the necessary human and financial resources, powers and independence to conduct their work effectively. Participants saw this regional conference between equality bodies, the EU and civil society as an important step in building a closer and structured cooperation in fighting structural antigypsyism.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on anti racism contact Isabela Mihalache , Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.