European Commission releases initiative on mental health: What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 7 June 2023, the European Commission put forward a Communication laying out a comprehensive approach to mental health, aimed at helping Member States and stakeholders take swift action to deal with mental health challenges. The Communication features 20 European flagships and identifies financing opportunities worth EUR 1.23 billion.

ERGO Network’s research report Roma access to healthcare and long-term care (2022) includes a dedicated chapter on Roma mental health. Our findings show that the Roma experience a higher risk of being in poor mental health, however, most of them cannot access much-need care and support due to unavailability of services in communities, high costs of consultations, antigypsyism and stigma, and lack of trust in the healthcare system overall. See below for a summary of our analysis of the EC Communication from this perspective.

  • Read our full response to the Communication here!

We warmly welcome that the Roma are explicitly mentioned in the Communication, with statements closely aligned with our own findings. We also particularly appreciate the social determinants of health perspective, looking at poverty, discrimination, and poor access to quality housing, education, and employment. The text also features clear links with the EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation, which is mentioned twice, as well as with the Council Recommendation on Roma Equality, Participation and Inclusion. We are equally happy to see that the Communication mentions ethnic minorities, underlining that inequalities based on ethnicity have an important impact both on mental health as well as on access to adequate care. Last but not least, discrimination is comprehensively mentioned throughout the document, including explicit references to the discrimination faced by the Roma.

However, antigypsyism as such is not mentioned, nor is there any reference to racism or the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan. While comprehensive efforts and funds are dedicated to combatting the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health, which is very welcome, no similar efforts are foreseen to combat discrimination on other grounds (such as ethnic or racial background), despite it being acknowledged as a determinant of poor mental health. The sections on the prevention of psycho-social risks at work and on reinforcing mental health systems and improving access to treatment and care fail to mention discrimination in the workplace, or when seeking support services. It is a missed opportunity to not have included requirements for anti-bias training for mental health professionals and for Member States to promote the hiring of minority mental health workers and mental health mediators.

An encouraging flagship initiative is aimed at improving data collection through the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS), where we hope that data will also be broken down by ethnic background, to have a complete picture of the state of Roma mental health and of their access to and take-up of corresponding support services. Part of the EUR 28 million that the European Commission pledges in order to provide psychological first aid to people fleeing the war in Ukraine and their children must be dedicated to combatting racism and antigypsyism, given overwhelming evidence from the ground that Roma families escaping the war have been severely discriminated in host countries, often being turned away, not believed, denied help, or persecuted because of their ethnicity.

Overall, we broadly welcome the European Commission’s comprehensive approach to mental health, as a very important first step in improving mental health in Europe. However, the Communication falls short of being a strategy with targets and monitored objectives, and many of the initiatives and funds are not new. Disappointingly, the main social and material determinants of mental health – poverty and discrimination – are correctly identified, but not sufficiently addressed. Lastly, stakeholders (including civil society) are only mentioned once in a general sentence, while nothing is said about giving ownership to the affected communities and individuals themselves, as they should be closely associated to the design, implementation, and monitoring of policies affecting their lives and wellbeing.

ERGO Network hopes that the gaps identified above will be remedied through implementation and through subsequent EU policy measures, and we stand ready to support these efforts at both EU and national level.


For more information about our work on Roma mental health, please contact Amana Ferro (, Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network staff

Empowering Youth Against Antigypsyism: Insights from the Budapest Summer Academy

In Budapest, Hungary, the “Youth Ambassadors of the Decade against Antigypsyism” Summer Academy took place, uniting youngsters to address the challenges posed by antigypsyism. Organised by ERGO Network, the Council of Europe, and ternYpe – International Roma Youth Network, this event aimed to empower the youth as advocates for change. Through various sessions and activities, participants tackled the complexities of antigypsyism, strengthening their resolve to combat structural racism and promote Roma inclusion.

Inauguration and mission

The event began with an opening session led by Marcos Andrade, Deputy Director of the European Youth Centre Budapest. Andrade highlighted the significance of recent Roma Youth Participation Recommendations by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. These recommendations emphasised the importance of Roma Youth’s inclusion in all societal spheres and decision-making processes while addressing structural racism – issues that formed the core mission of the academy and unified the participants in their commitment.

Deepening understanding

The academy delved into the depths of antigypsyism, fostering a comprehensive understanding of the issue. Expert sessions, including activism led by Gwendolyn Albert and personal testimonies like Elena Gorolova’s account of forced sterilization, shed light on the challenges faced by the Roma community.

Furthermore, sessions led by Jamen Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network, and Ida Kreutzman from the Council of Europe introduced advocacy work and relevant resources. This knowledge empowered participants, equipping them with tools for meaningful change.

Taking action and commitment to change

The final part of the academy by devising actionable projects to raise awareness about the Roma community and each participant had a chance to present their idea. Among many great initiatives, some participants envisioned podcasts to share stories and experiences and a city guide tour utilising QR codes, featuring topics related to Roma history and contemporary life. This creative approach promises to engage and educate a broad audience through social media, which is a common means for young people not only to express themselves but also to share their knowledge with others.

A significant takeaway from the academy is the unwavering commitment of the participants. They pledged to serve as Youth Ambassadors, using their resources to raise awareness about Roma issues, culture, history, and their enduring presence.

The “Youth Ambassadors of the Decade against Antigypsyism” Summer Academy in Budapest was not just a gathering of young minds; it has the potential to be a catalyst for change. Armed with knowledge and inspiration, these Youth Ambassadors are prepared to challenge antigypsyism and advocate for a more inclusive society. Their commitment promises a far-reaching impact, as they return to their communities, fostering understanding, empathy, and change in their wake. The fight against antigypsyism has found a passionate and determined new generation of advocates.

Conference on Environmental Justice

European Environmental Bureau and ERGO Network invite you to the conference on “Environmental Justice for Roma Communities, Leveraging the EU Strategic Framework”

The conference aims to be a starting point in addressing environmental racism against Roma in EU Member States and Enlargement Countries as a priority policy concern under the national Roma strategic frameworks and specific national policies and measures regarding the environment, housing, health, employment, social protection, and education policies.

Date and time:

The conference will take place on 12 October 2023 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and also in an online format.


  • Raise awareness about Roma and environmental racism in EU Member States and Enlargement Countries, together with relevant stakeholders (policymakers, academia, public authorities, civil society organisations, etc.).
  • Identify targeted policy measures to address environmental justice and antigypsyism issues in Pata-Rât, Cluj-Napoca as well as broader policy measures applying to other European countries and situations.
  • Facilitate networking and exchanges amongst civil society on Roma environmental issues.

In addition to the conference, we are also organising a separate workshop with civil society on the 11th.


Thursday, 12 October 2023

08:30 – 09:00                 Registration

09:00 – 09:30                Opening of the Conference

Moderator: Diego Francesco Marin, Policy Officer for Raw Materials and Resource Justice, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

  • Dr Nicolae Ajtai, Dean, Babeş-Bolyai University
  • Ms Patrizia Heidegger, Director, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
  • Ms Gabriela Hrabaňová, Director, ERGO Network
  • Mr Dragoş Pîslaru MEP, Romania / Renew Europe, Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

09:30– 10:15                 Political messages from EU and national policymakers

Moderator: Isabela Mihalache, Senior Advocacy Officer, ERGO Network

  • Ms Linda Greta Zsiga – Testimony from Pata-Rât
  • Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment (tbc)
  • Ms Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality (video message) – tbc
  • Mr Peter Pollák MEP, Slovakia / European People’s Party (tbc)
  • Mr Romeo Franz MEP, Germany / Group of the Greens & European Free Alliance (tbc)
  • Mr Nicolae Ștefănuță MEP, Romania/ Group of the Greens & European Free Alliance (tbc)
  • Mr Mircea Fechet, Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests, Romania (tbc)
  • Ms Simona Bucura-Oprescu, Minister of Labour and Social Solidarity, Romania (tbc)
  • Mr Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca (tbc)

10:15 – 10:30             Coffee break

10:30 – 11:15             Report launching and Common Basic Principles

Moderator: Ms Patrizia Heidegger, Director, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

  • Mr Diego Francesco Marin, Policy Officer, European Environmental Bureau – Launch of new EEB report on environmental justice
  • Ms Isabela Mihalache, Senior Advocacy Officer, ERGO Network – Assessment of the national Roma strategic frameworks from an environmental perspective 
  • Intervention from researcher (tbc)
  • Speaker to be confirmed – Presenting the Common Basic Principles on Environmental Justice for Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation from the civil society organisations’ workshop
  • Questions: 15 mins 

11:15 – 12:30              Parallel working groups

12:00 – 13:30             Lunch

13:30 – 14:00              Reports from parallel working groups

14:00- 15:25               Environmental racism and EU policies: EU Roma Strategic   Framework, European Pillar of Social Rights, European Green Deal

Moderator: Mr Diego Francesco Marin, Policy Officer for Raw Materials and Resource Justice, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

  • Mr Olimpiu Bela Lăcătuş-Iakab, Association for Inclusion, Transformation and Social Innovation
  • Ms Enikő Vincze, Desire Foundation, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Mr Andrey Ivanov, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) – tbc
  • Mr Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of Unit, DG JUST, European Commission (tbc)
  • Ms Marta Garcia Fidalgo, Adviser Roma integration, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (tbc)
  • Ms Katerina Ivanković-Knežević, Director for Social Rights and Inclusion, DG EMPL, European Commission (tbc)
  • Ms Otilia Ciobanu, Policy Officer on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), DG REGIO, European Commission (tbc)
  • Ms Réka Horváth, Head of Unit, RECOVER Task Force, European Commission (tbc)
  • Questions: 10 mins

15:25– 16:30               What are the EU and national governments doing to ensure environmental justice?

Moderator: Amana Ferro, Senior Policy Officer, ERGO Network (online)

  • Ms Patricia Bezunartea Barrio, National Roma Contact Point, Spain (tbc)
  • Ms Andrea Bučková, National Roma Contact Point, Slovakia (tbc)
  • Ms Cecilia Văduva, Ministry of European Funds, Romania (tbc)
  • Mr Daniel Grebeldinger, ERGO Network / Nevo Parudimos, Romania
  • Mr Habit Hajredini, Director of the Office for Good Governance, Human Rights, Equal Opportunities and Anti-Discrimination, Office of the Prime Minister Republic of Kosovo (tbc)
  • Mr Andor Ürmös, Bridge EU – Environmental justice in Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania

16:30-16:45                 Coffee Break

16:45– 17:45               The role of municipalities – What are cities doing to ensure environmental justice for Roma communities?

Moderator: MrDaniel Grebeldinger, member ERGO Network / Nevo Parudimos, Romania

  • Mr István Szilárd Tasnádi, Vice-Prefect, Cluj local government (tbc)
  • Mr Alin Tișe, President, Cluj County Council (tbc)
  • Mr Petrică Dulgheru, Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (tbc)
  • Dr Zuzana Havírová, Roma Advocacy and Research Center, Slovakia (tbc)
  • Mr Virgil Bitu, UK-RO: The ignorance of policymakers towards Roma communities and the inability of Roma population to access public services (tbc)
  • Mr Adriatik Hasantari, Roma Active Albania (tbc)

17:45 – 18:00              Conclusions 

Moderator: Ms Lorena Doghi, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

  • Ms Patrizia Heidegger, Director, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
  • Ms Gabriela Hrabaňová, Director, ERGO Network                              

18:00                           End of the conference

19:00 – 21:00  Dinner reception / cultural event (tbc)


If you are a relevant non-governmental organisation or institution and are interested in attending, please register HERE: Leveraging the EU Roma Strategic Framework Tickets, Wed 11 Oct 2023 at 12:00 | Eventbrite

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on environmental justice, please contact Senior Advocacy Officer Isabela Mihalache.

New European Solidarity Corps volunteer in ERGO Network

Welcome, Gopalas!

The ERGO Network Secretariat team is growing! This week our new European Solidarity Corps volunteer Gopalas Michailovskis from Lithuania joined us in Brussels.

He will stay eight months with us to learn more about how we work and support all our work areas.

Here is more about Gopalas in his own words:

I am from Lithuania with a diverse educational background that, I believe, reflects my passion for issues related to social justice, human rights, and the fight against antigypsyism or anti-Roma racism. With a Master’s degree in opera singing and another in Cultural Heritage Studies, I have honed my skills in both the arts and the humanities. Yet, my journey in academia was never disattached from the struggles many Roma face in various spheres. 

Being a Roma individual myself, I find it meaningful to critically engage with these struggles and pave the path for nuanced rectification of racial injustices. My focus is not only to strengthen the means of awareness raising regarding antigypsyism, but also to envision the possible forms of such rectification, e.g. reparations, reconciliation, etc.  

Therefore, my current internship with ERGO holds great significance for me. It represents an opportunity to direct my academic knowledge and prospect them into practical action. I believe that this experience will be a cornerstone for my future academic pursuits that will equip me with invaluable insights in the field of social justice, human rights, and the fight against antigypsyism or anti-Roma racism. 

I am keen to work with and learn from you. Feel free to reach me out so that I can hear from you.  

We are looking for Web Designer

ERGO Network is contracting a Web Designer to improve website

Are you a creative and talented Web Designer looking for an exciting opportunity to transform a plain-text website into a visually stunning and highly functional online platform? If so, we want to hear from you!

Position Overview:

We are seeking a Web Designer with a passion for aesthetics and a keen eye for detail to elevate our website to the next level. In this role, you will be responsible for turning our text-based web pages into engaging, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing digital experiences. Your creative touch will be essential in designing maps with interactive links, crafting icons for various content types, and making our website visually appealing by incorporating images, boxes, colours, and more.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the Communications Officer to understand project requirements and objectives.
  • Transform plain-text web content into visually appealing, user-friendly designs.
  • Create interactive maps with clickable links to streamline data access and enhance user experience.
  • Design custom icons and graphics to represent different types of content effectively.
  • Incorporate images, graphics, and multimedia elements to make the content engaging.
  • Utilize colour theory and typography to enhance the website’s visual appeal.
  • Ensure responsive design for seamless viewing on various devices.
  • Utilise the industry trends and best practices to improve our website’s design.


  • Proven experience as a Web Designer or in a similar role.
  • Proficiency in graphic design software, such as Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Strong knowledge of HTML, CSS, and web design principles.
  • Excellent understanding of user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design.
  • Ability to communicate with the team, understand and clarify the tasks.
  • Attention to detail and a strong creative flair.
  • Problem-solving skills to overcome design challenges.
  • Strong portfolio showcasing your web design projects.


The Web designer will be paid 3,000-4,000 euros for the website. We will select the candidate based on the principle of “value for money”.

If you are interested in this task, please submit your resume and a link to your portfolio showcasing your web design projects to by 15 September 2023. In your cover letter, tell us why you’re the perfect fit for this role and share your vision for improving our website.

ERGO Network is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.

For further questions, please contact Communications Officer Ana Rozanova at

Ana Rozanova – ERGO Network

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