Looking back at the Romani Week 2022
After last year’s online edition of the Romani Week, the Romani Week 2022 brought together Members of the European Parliament, officials of EU institutions and International Organisations, national and international civil society organisations as well as young Roma activists for a series of live events in the European Parliament in Brussels.
The Romani Week built on the work done during previous Romani Weeks and debated EU policies for Romani inclusion. It also called upon the European Commission and the EU Member States to put the fight against antigypsyism at the forefront of efforts for the social and economic inclusion of the Romani people.
ERGO Network was once again a proud co-organizer and partner of this edition of the Romani Week, under the patronage of the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as MEP hosts: Romeo FRANZ, Peter POLLÁK, Anna Júlia DONÁTH, Terry REINTKE, Cornelia ERNST, Klára DOBREV, Sergey LAGODINSKY, Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, Rasmus ANDRESEN, Lucia ĎURIŠ NICHOLSONOVÁ, Monika VANA, Thomas WAITZ and Carmen AVRAM.
ERGO Network’s participation started on the first day, coinciding symbolically with the Romani Resistance Day on 16 May. During the event on “Promoting positive narratives and raising awareness about the Romani language”, ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová underlined that the brave act of Romani prisoners resisting their oppressors in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is an inspiration for many contemporary Roma, who have to still resist racism and discrimination in their daily lives.
“The Decade to counter antigypsyism as a new strategy for Roma inclusion in the EU and Western Balkans” was the title of the second event on the next day. co-organised by ERGO Network. It facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of modern antigypsyism and its forms in the EU and Western Balkan & Turkey and articulated the way antigypsyism and public policies are related and put forward to achieve equality, inclusion, and participation of Roma.
The event highlighted how antigypsyism is addressed in the framework of the new Roma policies and strategies, with special attention given to the governments in the Enlargement Countries, and discussed the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism. ERGO Network’s campaign “Decade to counter antigypsyism” following the timeframe of the EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, will in this regard target the public and offer new narratives and measures to combat antigypsyism.
The third event co-organised by ERGO Network with the title “Ensuring adequate and effective regional, national and local funds for Roma equality, inclusion and participation – past, present and future challenges” took place on 18 May.
The event was organised jointly by ERGO Network, the Central European University Democracy Institute and Fundación Secretariado Gitano under the Roma Civil Monitoring Consortium together with Nevo Parudimos, RROMA, Autonómia Foundation, and the office of MEP Romeo Franz.
The event facilitated discussions on the challenges in ensuring adequate and effective regional, national, and local funds for Roma, as well as on the importance of monitoring data on funding and its effective implementation towards achieving equality, inclusion and participation of Roma. It also highlighted the importance of Roma civil society monitoring of the EU Roma Strategic Framework and National Roma Frameworks for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
The event provided examples from the national level on the inclusion of funding allocations, or lack thereof, for priorities under National Roma Frameworks as well as synergies with wider national programmes and funding. It introduced a new guide of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, commissioned by MEP Romeo Franz, on how Roma civil society can best benefit from the new EU funding period 2021-2027, as well as the latest report produced for ERGO Network by Marko Pecak on funding of bottom-up approaches and Roma grassroots involvement and has received financial support in the framework of the project “New solutions to old problems” funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.
This event was followed by the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award, taking place live on 18 May in the afternoon. The “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” award is a local advocacy component of the project Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey (Power of Change), funded by DG NEAR and delivered by the ERGO Network. “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is a regional campaign aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their ability to engage in dialogue with public authorities.
The Power of Change project is implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey and the selection panel chose one mayor per country among the nominated candidates to receive the award in Brussels. The event was hosted by MEP Romeo Franz and opened by Mr Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.
The final event co-organised by ERGO Network was called “Towards zero segregation in education in Europe”. The event was moderated by Damaris Uzoma, Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), Belén Sánchez-Rubio, Head of International Department, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Spain and our Senior Policy Officer Isabela Mihalache.
This insightful event informed about the challenges in preventing, combating and sanctioning segregation in education at national and European levels and proposed sustainable and long-term advocacy and cooperation paths towards zero segregation in education.
The other events of the Romani Week also provided recommendations on combatting antigypsyism, defined the place of Roma in the digital and green agendas, paid special attention to the challenges of Roma women and youth, as well as representation of the local communities and Romani language. Finally, meeting in person for this Romani Week following the previous online format was not only enlightening but also inspiring and motivating. It highlighted the need for cooperation between stakeholders on different levels to bring on a real change in the situation of the Roma communities across Europe.
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.