EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey

EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey 

Extraordinary people promoting equality through employment

A highlight of the Romani Week 2021 was the only in-person event taking place in Brussels: The award ceremony for the 14 winners of the fourth edition of the “EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey”! 

Launched in 2014, the  EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey is organised by Roma Active Albania, member of ERGO Network, and funded by the European Union. It highlights the importance of Roma integration in the EU Enlargement process and shows the EU’s determination and commitment to improving the social inclusion of Roma people. With the Award, the EU recognises all efforts to empower Roma to reach their full potential as full members of the societies where they live and work. 

The 2021 edition invited nominations and self-applications for “Extraordinary people promoting equality through employment”. It recognises private and public initiatives that offer support, recognition and publicity to sustainable employment initiatives in Roma communities, especially among women, and that support positive role models and practical help.

Of the 67 applications submitted, 14 projects representing the Western Balkan partners and Turkey have been chosen for their outstanding contribution. The nominees often put themselves at risk by being role models and breaking established traditions. The winners include ERGO Network member Otaharin from Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Konak municipality from Turkey and the Roma Women Center Bibija from Serbia (full list of winners here). 

Adriatik Hasantari, Director of Roma Active Albania and Vice-Chair of ERGO Network, applauded all winners: “Your success in improving the economic situation of hundreds of Romani families proves that things can change when municipalities, companies, organisations and individuals are committed to and passionate about Roma inclusion. You are an inspiration to be followed by many”. 

Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, said: “Congratulations to all the winners for your contribution to such an important issue! You took courageous initiatives overcoming prejudices to promote Roma employment. With your diverse actions and your successful results, you show that progress on Roma employment is possible. I hope this Award will help expand your initiatives as role models for increasing Roma employment and for making our societies more equal and fair.”

The winners travelled to Brussels not only to been given their awards, but also to learn more about the EU’s role in Roma integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey and ERGO Network’s activities to empower Roma civil society and improve policy-making for Roma across Europe. During the next months, they will continue to share their experiences and learn together through a study visit to Spain and events organised in all partner countries of the Western Balkans and in Turkey. 

Find out more about the 14 winners and their achievements under the following links: