ERGO Network’s Annual Members’ Meeting / General Assembly 2022
After two years of meeting online, from 13-15 June 2022 ERGO Network’s members finally came together live in Brussels to share updates from the past year, set future priorities, and learn from each other. As ERGO Network is moving from a foundation (Stichting) registered in the Netherlands to a member-governed organisation (AISBL) based in Belgium, this Annual Members’ Meeting was also the first General Assembly of the “new ERGO”.
The first day started with welcoming the members to Brussels by ERGO Network Co-Chair Stanislav Daniel and ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová. It was followed by an exchange of expectations for the meeting between the members, who highlighted fears such as conflicts, lack of (or too much) discussion and even contracting Covid-19 during the meeting. But the identified opportunities and hopes – such as to be heard, to come back home motivated, excitement about the “new” ERGO and its board together with many others – outweighed these fears.
This ice-breaker session was followed by a presentation of the “new ERGO” working structure: a general overview of the Statutes of the new ERGO Network aisbl, the membership (a discussion during which the active members of the “old” ERGO Network officially also became members of the new ERGO Network aisbl), the establishment of the General Assembly and approval of the agenda. The new statutes are also introducing the new type of membership – besides the full members, we also welcomed associated members and friends of ERGO.“We also discussed the roles of the new ERGO Board, the General Assembly, the Secretariat, voting procedures, and elections.
In the afternoon, the members split into groups to discuss ERGO Network policy work updates:
• EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, Roma Civil Monitoring and the work of the Anti-Racism Coalition with Isabela Mihalache
• Capacity building of Roma civil society by the director Gabriela Hrabaňová
• Combatting Roma poverty and social exclusion with Amana Ferro and Carmen Tănasie
• Raising awareness of antigypsyism online and offline with Mustafa Jakupov
• Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey with Adriatik Hasantari
This session was followed by a plenary discussion on updates on the situation in Ukraine and support from ERGO Network members. The exchange was kicked-off by our Ukrainian member organization Roma Women Fund Chiricli and followed by inputs from members from Romania, Hungary, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The discussions continued late into the evening during our dinner outside, where the members also had a chance to join an informal conversation about an initiative exploring any potential misuse of EU funds for Roma integration.
The second day started with a deeper look at the statutory items of the new ERGO: the statutory role of the General Assembly and voting procedures, and the Internal Governance Handbook. Then the candidates for the Board were presented and the most awaited part of the meeting – the elections – took place. To find out who became the new Board of ERGO Network stay tuned for the update in the coming days!
Our treasurer Martin Mata presented an overview of the financial situation from 2017 to 2022. He stated that ERGO Network was in very good financial health, with sufficient reserves, and recommended continuing on the same path. The session on finances was complete with the presentation of ERGO’s main funding sources and finally the discussion and vote on the membership fee.
After all the excitement of the elections, an in-depth discussion on strengthening the membership followed. In the format of the World Café, we asked our members: What does membership mean for you? What works in ERGO’s membership? What does not work? What are the opportunities to make the membership stronger?
Some of the key takeaways from this session were: to be more aware of members’ capacities, to channel communication, to increase the transparency within the network, and to continue sharing knowledge and expertise among members.
This day and the General Assembly 2022 closed with a policy round table on Building intersectional synergies to guarantee Roma equality, inclusion, and participation, which facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism and its various manifestations inside and outside the European Union.
The speakers in this event came from the Social Platform, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Eurodiaconia, the European Commission’s DG Justice and Consumers, as well as from ERGO Network’s French member La Voix des Rroms. The presentations were followed by a debate with the audience.
The round table looked at intersections with mainstream anti-racist policy frameworks, and where synergies or opportunities for joint advocacy and cooperation arise that can help strengthen the work of addressing Roma issues further in a holistic way. It provided an opportunity to examine the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and of promoting a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, not only at the national but also at the European level.
The round table received the financial support of the European Union and the International Visegrád Fund.
We thank our members for coming to Brussels for this meeting!