Citizens Equality, Rights and Values – ERGO participation in CERV dialogue week

Citizens Equality, Rights and Values – ERGO participation in CERV dialogue week

“Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values” (CERV) is the new European programme offering funding for citizens’ engagement, equality for all and the protection and promotion of rights and EU values. Civil society organisations active at local, regional, national and transnational level, as well as other stakeholders, can apply to receive CERV funding for the 2021-2027 period.

CERV stands for “Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values” and will be the biggest-ever EU fund for promoting and protecting fundamental rights inside the EU. It will provide 1,55 billion euro for the next 7-years period to projects protecting and promot the rights and values as enshrined in the Treaties, the Charter and in the applicable international human rights conventions. This will be achieved by supporting civil society organisations and other stakeholders active at local, regional, national and transnational level. The programme will replace the previous Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme and the Europe for Citizens programme.

The CERV programme will be based on 4 strands:

  1. Equality, Rights and Gender Equality – promote rights, non-discrimination, equality, including gender equality, and advance gender and non-discrimination mainstreaming;
  2. Citizens’ engagement and participation – promote citizens engagement and participation in the democratic life of the Union and exchanges between citizens of different Member States and to raise awareness of the common European history;
  3. Daphne – fight violence, including gender-based violence;
  4. Union values – protect and promote Union values. The Union values strand is one of the big innovations of the programme. It puts at its centre values which are common to all Member States and on which the European Union is founded:  respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. At a time where European societies are confronted with extremism, radicalism and divisions and a shrinking space for independent civil society, this strand will place civil society organisations at the heart of its priorities by funding projects which promote and raise awareness on EU values and EU fundamental rights and by providing financial support to local, regional and transnational civil society organisations.

During the CERV Civil Dialogue Week 2021 from 25-28 May 2021, potential partners and beneficiaries had the opportunity to get to know the new programme and to engage in an open dialogue on policy developments, opportunities and challenges.

The session on Equality and Rights was moderated by Irena Moozova, Director “Equality and Union citizenship” in the European Commission and engaged Sirpa Pietikäinen – Member of the European Parliament, FEMM Committee and  co-rapporteur CERV programme, Evelyne Paradis – Executive Director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe, Tamás Kádár – Deputy Director and Head of Legal and Policy of the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET), Elizabeth Gosme – Director of COFACE Families Europe and Isabela Mihalache, our Senior Advocacy Officer.

At the invitation of the Moderator, our senior advocacy officer addressed the main challenges that that EU funds should address under the Equality and Rights strand of the CERV programme. We underlined the growing extremist and far right and populist movements, which challenge the idea of inclusive and democratic societies where people of different backgrounds can enjoy equal rights. Another challenge is addressing structural and institutional racism in the context of growing inequalities and discrimination and violence on the grounds of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The fragmented nature and limited resources of EU funding programmes dedicated to various strands limit the EU’s capacity to respond to existing and new challenges, AI, climate change, covid-19; aspects regarding the distribution of funds across the groups of beneficiaries, the involvement of equality bodies, gender mainstreaming, mainstreaming of rights of the child and rights of people with disabilities, difficulties with the application process, implementation and reporting duties and mechanisms, ‘lack of support to first-time applicants’.

ERGO highlighted that programmes such as CERV are important since legislation alone is not enough to effectively tackle discrimination and racism and achieve equality. Structural problems and challenges are hardly funded by national funding if not for EU funding. Such structural problems are also cross-countries and better addressed at regional level through exchanges of knowledge and good practices. EU funding should allow developing synergies to tackle the challenges that are common to the promotion of equality, anti-discrimination and anti-racism to reach a critical dimension to have concrete results in the field. At the same time, the funds should take into account the specific nature of the different EU policies, their different target groups and their particular needs through tailor-made approaches. The current CERV strand on equality and rights should lead to a better understanding of various forms of discrimination, including antigypsyism, antisemitism, islamophobia and afrophobia; promoting a culture to combat discrimination on a more intersectional basis, thus making responses more effective, increased actions to prevent and combat discrimination, racism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, anti-muslim hatred, antigypsyism and other forms of intolerance. In that context, particular attention should also be devoted to preventing and combating all forms of violence, hatred, segregation and stigmatisation, as well as combating bullying, harassment and intolerant treatment. The CERV Programme should be implemented in a mutually reinforcing manner with other Union activities that have the same objectives, such as the EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation, EU Action plans against racism etc; it should support NGO coalition building and platform on antiracism and avoid fragmentation of different antiracism movements.

In the future, the CERV programme could help by looking at the disproportionate impact the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis can inflict on marginalised ad vulnerable groups, which are more prone to discrimination, through continuous evidence data collection, awareness raising activities and combating negative narrative and stereotypes in the media and beyond and by ensuring synergies with the Recovery and resilience facility.

ERGO partner in Solidi project – Solidarity in Diversity

Solidi Project

ERGO Network is a partner in a new exciting academic project called the European Training Network “Solidarity in Diversity” (SOLiDi), providing a Roma perspective to the programme.

Over the last decade, liberal democracies in Europe have been shaken to their core by the rise of national populisms. This puts strong pressure on all forms of solidarity, especially as they cross ethnic-cultural boundaries. The increasingly successful capture of the notion of solidarity by radical right, anti-liberal democratic forces is testimony to this. The challenge for European democracies is to identify the conditions under which solidarities in diversity can be nurtured.

To address this urgent challenge, the European Training Network “Solidarity in Diversity” (SOLiDi) develops a training and research program that is focused on how to generate solidarities across cultural boundaries, taking the proximity of citizens with different ethnic-cultural backgrounds in specific places and the practices they engage in as starting point. Building on the strengths of the interculturalist paradigm, SOLiDi will contribute with an intersectional understanding of how place-based solidarity practices are shaped by and can work around entrenched social inequalities and unequal power relations.

To that end, SOLiDi brings together 10 academic partners from sociology, geography and educational science and 23 non-academic partners – one of them ERGO Network – in an international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral training network for 15 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). The research and training will prepare a cohort of highly-skilled professionals who are well-versed in a range of different approaches to generate solidarity in diversity and are able to apply these in different geographical, policy and organisational contexts.

SOLiDi has 3 main objectives:

  • to combine knowledge from sociology, geography and social pedagogy to extend our knowledge on how solidarities can be generated across cultural boundaries
  • to articulate public pedagogies and organizational and policy strategies that support diversity
  • to promote social innovation by facilitating the translation of academic insights into skills to promote and to analyse societal change through training in research methods and ethics

SOLiDi will train doctoral researchers both in the state of the art on sociological, geographical and educationalist insights on solidarity in diversity, place-based practices, interculturalism and intersectionality as well as in analytical and transferable skills on public pedagogies and organizational and policy strategies. In this way, the SOLiDi consortium aims to articulate a new, academically grounded and practice and policy-oriented vision on solidarity in diversity. SOLiDi will provide an alternative to the prevailing pessimism around living in diversity and train a cohort of professionals well equipped to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and professional interventions on living in diversity

For more information please visit the Solidi website

(Post-)Pandemic Life Together

(Post-)Pandemic Life Together

This spring arrived accompanied by many challenges for our work. Instead of shrinking back, we battened down the hatches and continued supporting people with fewer opportunities.

During March, one of our localities became an epicentre of a special mutation of the corona virus. Many families, Roma and non-Roma, found themselves in the middle of danger of contagion. Together with other local NGOs and volunteers we distributed FFP2 respirators and masks and discussed the situation with adults and children.

Keeping the seriousness of the pandemic situation in mind, we tried hard to preserve the quality and quantity of our services and activities that we offer to local people in need. Instead of cancelling our events and appointments, we equipped our teams with protective aid or searched for alternative ways of helping the community. The arrival of spring allowed us to hold workshops outdoors, other activities took place one-to-one.

Every ten years, a Census is carried out in the Czech Republic to obtain information about the population that is not easily accessible. This May, another nation-wide census took place. As the attendance is obligatory under penalty of a fine, our street workers helped 131 households to fulfill this legal duty.

While maintaining the quality of our street work, counselling and other social services, we are also mindful of human rights aspect of our work. This spring became a milestone for women who suffered – and still suffer – from forced sterilisation. At the beginning of May, after many years of struggle, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill on compensation for the female victims.

Since Czech schools implemented distance learning, children needed extra support to cope with online lessons. We restored our „outdoor school“ and offered assistance with homework or learning on-spot. For families that were not endowed with digital devices, we arranged computers and laptops as a gift in cooperation with the Č initiative.

To celebrate the International children’s day, all teams prepared special activities for the children and young people they work with. Almost hundred children from Liscina, a neighbourhood once flooded, gathered for fun outdoor activities and received sweet rewards. Other events related to the International children’s day and the end of the school year will take place all over the localities we work in. Preparations for our traditional summer camp are already under way as well.