International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021 – ERGO Network statement

In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated 27 January as the international commemoration day in memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust.  On 27 January 1945 the Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz, where millions of people were murdered. The Roma children, men and women from the so-called “Gypsy Family Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau did not live until this liberation day. The last of them, almost 3 000, had been sent to the gas chambers several months prior, on 2 August 1944, as part of the Nazis’ so-called “Final Solution to the Gypsy Question”. Sometimes known as the “Forgotten Holocaust,” the Roma Genocide was excluded from the history of World War II for decades after the end of the war.

Every year on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember all victims of the Holocaust and send a warning to today’s world: Let’s not forget that the Holocaust started with words – words that are still around us today.  Gabriela Hrabanova, Director of ERGO Network states: “Antigypsyism has never stopped and even increased during the pandemic. We cannot allow that once again we and other minorities are scapegoated and our humanity is stripped away. Let us all work together to stop the hate and ensure that history will never be repeated”.

Transparency criteria now available in Bulgarian, Romanian, Lithuanian

Transparency criteria now available in Bulgarian, Romanian, Lithuanian

ERGO Network’s transparency and accountability criteria give recommendations on how grassroots civil society organisations should be governed and managed in order to be reliable and accountable. Fulfilling the criteria will bring attention to an organisation’s quality work. The set of criteria focuses on governance, financial management and performance.

The criteria were developed in 2018 by ERGO Network members from the EU, Turkey and Western Balkans. Besides the criteria as such, the consortium developed a board game that helps civil society organisations to reflect on the criteria inside their own organisations and supports them in improving their internal policies and procedures.

After the success of this project, the criteria and the game were now translated into three additional languages – Lithuanian, Bulgarian and Romanian. They are available online and in print from our member organisations Roma Community Centre (Lithuania), Nevo Parudimos (Romania) and Integro Association (Bulgaria).

The translations have been produced in the framework of the project “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new type of approaches in the field of Roma integration” funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation. They are furthermore part of ERGO Network’s Annual Work Programme “Roma Included in Social Europe”, funded by the European Commission’s EaSI Programme.

Please visit www.ergonetwork.org/transparency  to download the criteria and the game in all languages.

Recommendations for national strategic Roma frameworks

Recommendations for the national strategic frameworks under the new EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation

On 7 October 2020, the European Commission published a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on the new Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation for 2020-2030. The new framework is replacing the previous EU framework for national Roma integration strategies 2011-2020. The new framework is a positive step in the right direction; it shifts the perspective of the previous EU framework to a more balanced approach between social inclusion, human rights and empowerment objectives. It asks Member States and Enlargement countries to develop national strategic frameworks (NSFs), not just strategies, proposing an intersectional approach to tackle discrimination and defining intersectional discrimination as such for the first time. The new framework includes a good reference to antigypsyism using the spelling proposed by the Alliance against Antigypsyism. The framework addresses Enlargement countries on an equal footing and acknowledges the importance of the Western Balkan region for the EU, while the Neighbourhood countries are mentioned for the first time in relation to Roma inclusion under the current framework.

ERGO Network has developed a set of recommendations for national governments that should be prioritised when developing national strategic frameworks in the first months of 2021.

These recommendations have been developed based on ERGO Network’s previous policy and monitoring work in the area of equality, inclusion and participation of Roma and on valuable on-the-ground input from ERGO Network’s member organisations across Europe and from Roma and pro-Roma organisations members of the EU Roma Policy Coalition.

You can access the recommendations here.

The following organisations contributed to the recommendations:

  • European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
  • Open Society Public Policy Institute (OSEPI)
  • European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture (ERIAC)
  • Phiren Amenca
  • European Network against Racism (ENAR)
  • Roma Active Albania
  • Roma Association Utrecht ,Netherlands
  • National federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups, UK
  • La voix des Rroms, France
  • Slovo 21, Czech Republic
  • Integro Association, Bulgaria

PECAO’s workshop materials and media monitoring tool now available

PECAO’s workshop materials and media monitoring tool are available for download

With approximately 12 Million people living in Europe for centuries, the Roma are the continent’s biggest ethnic minority. At the same time they are the its most disliked and discriminated minority, with every third person not wanting to have a Roma neighbour and 80% of Roma living at the risk of poverty.

Antigypsyism – a specific form of racism against people who are perceived as ‘Gypsies’ in the public imagination, is at the core of the social exclusion and discrimination of Roma.

PECAO will counter antigypsyist hate speech online by working with young people, using a combination of peer education and monitoring in order to obtain two-fold results: the peer education methodology will achieve a direct change in attitudes and actions of a high number of young people, and the monitoring will contribute to better understanding and a more systemic change of policies through advocacy based on the results.

By using the standard workshop materials created by the consortium and translated in the available languages (EN, BG, CZ, HU, RO and ES), participants of the workshop will be able to understand the phenomena of antigypsyist hate speech and its impact on Roma, as well as the importance to monitor and report that speech online. Furthermore, the participants of the workshop can engage into advocacy and work towards better anti-discrimination policies by addressing antigypsyism as bias motivation, as well as raise awareness among various stakeholders about the antigypsyist hate speech in online media.

The project consortium of PECAO consists of the following partners and funding:

Funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020) with co-funding from Google.org:

Funding from the Google.Org Impact Challenge on Safety in the framework of ERGO Network’s project Peer education to counter antigypsyist online hate speech:

The standard workshop materials are available in English, Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian and Spanish language for the moment. Should you have any additional requests for session outlines examples, exercises, or need for additional information concerning the topic, please write an e-mail to ERGO network at info@ergonetwork.org by adding the word PECAO to your subject line.

The materials consist of the following documents:

  • M01 – Objectives, Impact and Methodology
  • M02 – Aim and objectives of the workshop
  • M03 – Programme of the workshop
  • M04 – Non-formal education
  • M05 – Protocol form for monitoring media content with hate speech

As well as the media monitoring tool with a glossary available within the tool.

You can access the materials here and media monitoring tool here.

Publicity Disclaimer:

This publication was funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme  (REC 2014-2020) and Google.Org Impact Challenge on Safety. The European’s Commission’s and Google.Org’s support for the production does not constitute and endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views of the authors only, and the European Commission and Google.Org cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained there.

ERGO’s monitoring of the European Semester

ERGO Network continues its monitoring of the European Semester and meets the cabinet of Commissioner Nicolas Schmidt

The European Semester had a surprise early start this year, with the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) released two months earlier than expected, in September 2020. This year’s document is driven by an overriding impetus to fight the immediate consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and build a green and digital Europe, and is built around the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the central pillar of Next Generation EU, which is the European Union’s “emergency temporary recovery instrument to help repair the immediate economic and social damage brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, support an economic recovery and build a better future for the next generation. ERGO Network members are already engaging on the ground with the drafting of the National Plans that Governments need to submit to access these funds.

While there is no explicit mention of the European Roma in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy, ERGO Network welcomes that “people with a minority racial or ethnic background” are indicated as having been disproportionately hit by the coronavirus crisis. There is a lack of coordination and complete disconnect between Europe’s growth and recovery strategies and the EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion, and Participation. While it is indicated that the National Resilience and Recovery Plans should be consistent with other national initiatives, such as the Energy and Climate Plans and the Partnership Agreements and Programmes, sadly nothing is said about coherence with the National Roma Integration Strategies. You can read ERGO Network’s full response to the ASGS here.

The situation is mirrored by the draft Joint Employment Report, which was released as usual at the end of November. This year’s disconnect between the ASGS and the draft Joint Employment Report means that the former was not underpinned by the latter, and that Europe’s priorities for a green, digital, sustainable and inclusive recovery were not guided by in the in-depth analysis of realities on the ground that the Report provides. While the Roma are mentioned a number of times throughout the document, it is exclusively in the context of access to education. While the focus on improving Roma access to quality and inclusive mainstream education is very welcome, particularly as it also refers to obstacles such as severe poverty and housing exclusion, tackling structural problems like persistent poverty or rampant discrimination does not seem to be a concern. The Report also contains no reference to the situation of ethnic minorities or combatting antigypsyism and racism. Read ERGO Network’s full response to the draft Joint Employment Report here.

Based on the extensive work carried out by the ERGO Network to include a Roma perspective on the European Semester and other social and economic inclusion strategies at EU level, we secured a meeting with the Cabinet of Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. The exchange, attended from the Commission side by Policy Advisors Christoph Nerlich and Anouk Faber, focused on how to create positive synergies between the EU Roma Strategic Framework and the European Green Deal, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027. It also touched upon other social policy topics that ERGO Network is working on, and which fall under the purview of DG Employment, such as the the Youth Guarantee, Child Guarantee, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as social economy and minimum income.

ERGO Network members Katalin Nagy (Butterfly Development, HU), Pedro Aguilera (Federation of Roma Associations in Catalonia, ES), and Adriatik Hasantari (Roma Active Albania, AL) spoke about how the upcoming Social Economy Action Plan and the reinforced Youth Guarantee can be very useful tools to contribute towards reducing the gap between Roma and majority populations, as well as about the importance of including the Western Balkans and Enlargement and Neighbourhood Countries in the learning and exchanges about Roma inclusion in Europe. Cabinet members Ms Faber and Mr Nerlich confirmed Commissioner Nicolas Schmit’s commitment to Roma rights and inclusion and exchanged with ERGO Network members and staff about the best ways to engage with the above-mentioned policy frameworks in order to ensure a strong Roma dimension in Europe’s social and economic development strategies, as well as drew the attention to the key role of EU Funds (including InvestEU and ReactEu) to support these processes. Find the full meeting of the report here.

ERGO Network will continue to push for bringing Roma rights and inclusion much more in focus in the processes of the European Semester and the disbursement of Recovery and Resilience funds, and for better alignment with the priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Pillar of Social Rights. Hopefully the new decade will bring closer alignment between the EU Roma Strategic Framework and these frameworks, to ensure that Europe’s Roma are not left behind, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery.

For more information about our work on the European Semester, please contact Senior Policy Adviser Amana Ferro in the ERGO Network Brussels Secretariat.