PECAO Check-in meeting

PECAO Check-in meeting to evaluate project progress and plan ahead!

Almost one year has passed since ERGO Network and its partners have started the implementation of the PECAO project that addresses antigypsyist online hate speech. It has been quite a journey for our project partners within PECAO, as the project itself is being implemented during a global pandemic.

Nevertheless, our partners are extremely dedicated to encouraging positive values within Roma and non-Roma communities, as well as addressing the persisting issue of hate speech and antigypsyism. They have proven themselves motivated and reliable with the responsibilities handed to them. Our network is truly supported by grassroots efforts and we are immensely proud of this.

On 25 and 26 February 2021, the PECAO partners came together to evaluate a year of building our experience and expertise in tackling hate speech online, but also to look into the on-going implementation of the project, to check progress and plan the next steps ahead. We focused on the road so far, looking into what has been smooth and well done; where we were encountering bumps and the moments that we felt lost and were challenged by the given circumstances.

The check-in meeting was important and integral, as we still have a year ahead of us to make a change through our work and project in the online space.

The partners highlighted that the monitoring and peer education are going well, but it was challenging in the beginning to find the correct way to do it, especially face to face meetings, hence most of the activities shifted to be organized online and needed to take everyone’s safety into account.

During the meeting, we also received insights into the work packages led by our partners Integro, Nevo Parudimos and FAGiC. We listened to their reflections on the implementation so far and received heads up for the next period, as we are looking into following up on the conclusions of the stakeholder roundtables organized in their countries as well as continue to work on the monitoring exercise of collecting and reporting antigypsyist online hate speech.

On the meeting, our project officer from DG JUST Helene Lesay was also present and praised the commitment of our team despite the challenges faced.

The meeting concluded with looking into the next steps and milestones, one of them being the EU stakeholder roundtable organized for the 26 April 2021 by ERGO Network called “Online Antigypsyism: A new challenge for Roma inclusion?” where relevant stakeholders such as the European Commission,, European civil society organisations and other Brussels-level stakeholders, as well as EU policy-makers from across the institutional spectrum are invited to discuss.

Conference on fighting antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

Conference on fighting antigypsyism in the Western Balkans

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, ERGO Network, Roma Active Albania and the Permanent Representation of Germany to the European Union organised on 25 March 2021 the virtual conference “Role of the European Union and of individual Member States to fight antigypsyism in the Western Balkans and to ensure inclusion of Roma”.

The goal of the conference was to discuss with representatives of the European Commission and of individual EU Member States the need to fight antigypsyism in the Western Balkans and the need to include the position and situation of Roma in all relevant policies of the European Union with regard to the countries in the accession process.

The new “EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation” is equally relevant for the countries in the Western Balkans, which requires them to include the fight against antigypsyism in the strategies and action plans that are in the process of development.

Also in October 2020, the European Commission adopted the “Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans” as part of the 2020 Enlargement Package, which emphasises that “the integration of Roma people into society by supporting their full participation in education and in the labour market is of particular importance and will be a key priority of the EU integration process”.

Against this background, the conference focused on providing representatives of the Roma with the opportunity to present their position and their proposals for policies and measures and to discuss them with representatives of the European Commission and Member States of the European Union.

The conference was opened with encouraging remarks of Ambassador Thomas Ossowski from the Permanent Representation of Germany to the European Union and Colin Wolfe from the European Commission, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Head of Western Balkans Cooperation. Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council of the German Sinti and Roma also welcomed the participants and talked about the experiences of the civil rights movement of the German Sinti and Roma to fight antigypsyism, which can serve as and example for other countries both in the EU and the Western Balkan.

Following the keynote speech by Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director of ERGO Network on “the need to fight antigypsyism and to include the position and situation of Roma in all relevant policy fields”, a panel with a wide range of participants combined the position and activities of the European Union with experiences and requests from representatives of the civil society and other representatives of the Roma.

The panel addressed from several perspectives not only how the fight against antigypsyism could be strengthened in the Western Balkans, but also how a new policy approach with Roma in the Western Balkans could be achieved.

The representative of DG NEAR, Liselotte Isaksson, talked about the role of civil society in the Western Balkans in promoting inclusion of Roma and fighting antigypsyism” and Hristina Petkova from DG JUST informed about the focus on antigypsyism in the new EU Strategic Framework for Roma and the approach within the European Union.

Orhan Usein from the Roma Integration Team 2020 of the Regional Cooperation Council informed about the state of affairs and the involvement of the governments with regard to addressing antigypsyism in the new national Roma inclusion strategies.

Several Romani representatives presented their activities. Isabela Michalache (ERGO Network) informed about a new project on “Romani women – Power of change in the Western Balkans and Turkey” while Petrica Dulgheru, Executive Director Roma Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (REDI) talked about their activities in the Western Balkans and about Romani entrepreneurs as a driving force.

Isak Skenderi, Executive Director, Voice of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, Kosovo, informed about their activities in Kosovo, in particular focusing on the successful cooperation of Romani civil society with international actors and the government in combatting antigypsyism. Petar Antic talked about the project “Inclusion of Roma and other marginalized groups” that GIZ Germany implements in Serbia. The project includes a strong anti-discrimination focus and could serve as a promising practice for the region.

Finally Marija Sulejmanova of Romalitico in North Macedonia informed about the situation of Roma during the COVID 19 pandemic and their activities regarding the inclusion of Roma in assistance programmes to fight the pandemic.

The virtual conference was a first step in advocating for more activities in the Western Balkans to fight antigypsyism and to include the situation and position of Roma in all relevant policy fields. In this context, the active participation of the Roma is crucial and key to success and sustainability.

The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, ERGO Network and Roma Active Albania will continue their respective activities and encourage not only the European Commission, but also individual Member States to step up their activities with Roma in the Western Balkans.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Statement

Anti-Discrimination-Day Statement

Each year, the world commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March, the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist.

A specific form of racism is antigypsyism, which is directed towards Roma, Sinti, Travellers, and others who are stigmatized as ‘gypsies’ in the public imagination. We Roma fight racism every day – today is just another day in our lives.

Since last year, the increased visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement has put a spotlight on the outrageous levels of racism around the world.  The Coronavirus crisis redoubled structural racism and health inequalities during  the epidemic and continues to disproportionately impact the lives of Roma people and other racialized minorities across Europe.

Structural racism and discrimination against ethnic and racialised minorities are deeply rooted in European societies. Across the EU, we face widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion. Racial discrimination and harassment are commonplace for us.

Hate speech, hate crime, segregation, structural and systemic exclusion and discrimination of Roma people, including segregation of Roma children in schools, discrimination in the housing sector, access to healthcare and employment persists in many EU Member States, Neighborhood and Enlargement countries.

On 18 September 2020, the European Commission adopted the first EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 that promises a series of measures to tackle racism and racial discrimination, covering a broad string of policy areas.

ERGO Network, together with our members and partners, are actively observing the implementation of the plan in order to ensure that anti-Roma discrimination is also covered in the scope of the EU anti-racism agenda.

Here are some of our recommendations to the EU institutions and Member States:

  • Finally adopt the 10-year old draft of the Horizontal Anti-discrimination Directive.
  • Systematically record and publish disaggregated data on hate crime
  • Fully transpose and apply the provisions of the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, treating racist and xenophobic motivation as an aggravating circumstance
  • Reform internal policies and working methods in order to ensure a fair representation of minority populations within EU institutions as well as an adequate participation and consultation of minority groups in EU decisions in policies, programmes and funding
  • Commit to an ambitious, comprehensive, and binding EU Strategic Framework for Roma to achieve equality, social and economic justice, and combat antigypsyism.
  • Ensure equitable access to quality inclusive education for all children and invest consistently in raising awareness and adequately teach European societies about their colonial and racist past, including the history of antigypsyism.
  • Define segregation as illegal in housing and in education.
  • Address discrimination of minority groups in employment.
  • Take into account the needs of racialised minorities and define them as a priority in all mainstream policies and measures of the Covid-19 recovery plan; meaningfully involve Roma stakeholders and their civil society organisations in the design, implementation, and monitoring of such recovery plans.
  • Ensure funding for equality and fundamental rights of minority groups under the Multi-Annual Framework.

Member States step up commitment towards equality for Roma

Press statement

Member States step up commitment towards equality for Roma: The European Coalition of Roma and pro-Roma organisations welcomes the adoption of a Council Recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation

Brussels 17 March 2021: A new Council Recommendation calls on EU Member States to consolidate efforts to adopt and implement measures to promote equality and effectively prevent and combat multiple and structural discrimination and antigypsyism as well as social and economic exclusion of Roma.

“We are happy to see such a strong EU Council Recommendation on Roma. It is now up to Member States to demonstrate a real commitment to tackling antigypsyism – as specific form of racism against Roma people – with a focus on non-discrimination, civil society participation and fighting poverty and social exclusion of Roma. This is a timely  political moment for governments to be bold and far-reaching in their policy and funding proposals on Roma”, said Gabriela Hrabanova,  Director of ERGO Network.

“With this Council Recommendation we expect Enlargement and Neighbourhood countries to follow the example and adopt national Roma strategic frameworks and targeted policies prioritising the fight against antigypsyism and improving the situation of Roma women and children, who are often the most vulnerable to discrimination and social marginalisation”, said Adriatik Hasantari, Director of Roma Active Albania.

“The renewed Council Recommendation on Roma addresses Roma youth under the objectives of equality, inclusion, participation and employment. It is high time that national governments and National Roma Contact Points follow these recommendations and prove their commitment to the inclusion of young Roma in the decision-making, implementation and monitoring of Roma-related policies up to 2030”, states Marietta Herfort, Executive Director of Phiren Amenca International Network.

“We very much welcome the renewal of the political will to Roma equality and inclusion. There is a clear message that inequality, racism and discrimination cannot continue to exist in Europe. We now have the best-ever policy instrument, but it needs to operate in the best-ever conditions by fully aligning it with mainstream policy frameworks and by taking the opportunities offered by the current financial instruments. We urge Member States and the European Commission not to miss another decade”, says Isidro Rodríguez, Director of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano.

“The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma welcomes the EU Council Recommendation on Roma. It sends a strong signal for the recognition of antigypsyism as the root cause for inequality, exclusion and discrimination of Sinti and Roma in Europe. Member States must now include Sinti and Roma in the development and implementation of effective national strategies. They should also improve  their legal anti-discrimination frameworks and institutional settings, including monitoring, to effectively fight antigypsyism”, explains Guillermo Ruiz, Policy Advisor of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma.

“The European Public Health Alliance embraces the Recommendation of the Council of the European Union aiming to promote Roma equality, inclusion and participation. The organisation welcomes in particular the recommendations addressing healthcare and prevention, including vaccination services. Ensuring equal access to health and prevention services in line with the needs of different socio-economic groups among Roma is an indispensable step for achieving health equity and promoting equal participation in social and economic lives. Therefore, the European Public Health Alliance reiterates its calls for a stronger commitment at national and local levels, including the implementation of holistic and integrated policy measures to tackle systemic health inequalities affecting entire Roma communities and generations”. Radost Zaharieva, Policy coordinator for Health Inequalities and Roma Health

“In times when racism is on the rise, it is crucial that EU Member States recognize antigypsyism and take immediate actions to tackle it.  In order to improve the situation of Roma, ERIO encourages  all responsible national and local authorities to effectively implement the renewed  Council Recommendation as a necessary step to eradicate the dramatic levels of antigypsyism that Europe’s Roma are facing.  It is not enough to agree to the principle of equality for Roma. Adopting the Recommendation  will not make any difference to how Roma experience equality in their daily lives, unless followed up with concrete action that will translate commitment into policies, programmes, laws and budget lines.” said Ivan Ivanov, director of the European Roma Information Office.

“The European Roma and Travellers Forum welcomes the new Council Recommendation but is disappointed that it does not reflect the situation of nomadic and semi-nomadic Travellers and Romanies in Western European countries. We urge  Member States to address in their national Roma strategies the antigypsyism faced by nomadic and semi-nomadic Travellers and Romanies, particularly the lack of adapted schools systems, discriminatory administrative rules, neutral laws, domiciliation criteria, lack of legal status for mobile accommodations, anti-nomadic and repressive legislation and policies, criminalization of the nomadic way of life, forced sedentarisation and the lack of a comprehensive approach giving equal status and rights to the nomadic way of life. Anti-nomadism should be named as a specific form of antigypsyism, adequately condemned and prosecuted”, said Miranda Vuolasranta, President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum.

“This Council Recommendation is an important step towards recognising racial inequalities as a policy priority and ensuring meaningful measures to address these at national level. This way, the European Union strengthens its framework for racial equality and supports its new EU anti-racism action plan. However, implementation, participation and addressing structural forms of racism remain a challenge. We call on the EU institutions and Member States to implement intersectional and structural approach to racism which could ensure strong measures against antigypsyism,” said Julie Pascoet, Senior advocacy officer, European Network against Racism.

For further information, please contact ERGO Network’s Senior Policy Officer Isabela Mihalache.

Roma Youth Together: Call for Participants


Roma Youth Together: Call for Participants

The conference aims at strengthening the knowledge of Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as a factor enhancing social inclusion and participation of Roma and Traveller young people. Its specific objectives are:
• To support cooperation among Roma and non-Roma youth leaders by meeting, interacting and learning about the role of Roma history and culture in shaping the identities and perceptions of Roma youth in Europe today
• To support the dissemination and usage of Council of Europe standards and educational resources, in particular the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and/or Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials, the handbook “Right to Remember” and the role of the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture therein
• To motivate participants and their organisations in their work as multipliers on education about Roma and Traveller history, culture and identity as well as Roma Holocaust Remembrance
• To reflect and about and propose action regarding expressions of antigypsyism today such as online hate speech, Holocaust denial and mis-representations of history
• To collect and disseminate experiences and expectations about promoting the participation and inclusion of Roma and Traveller young people
• To celebrate Roma cultural diversity and associate young people and youth
organisations to the celebrations of the International Roma Day (8 April) and the 50 th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress, held in 1971 in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom.

Methodology and Programme

The conference will be organised as an online event over 3 days. The programme, methods and technology will be organised so as to favour mutual learning, interaction and dialogue among participants – notably in small discussion groups and workshops.

As a way of sharing experiences and connecting young people all across Europe, participants and partners will be supported to prepare and share an action that they organise or offer to celebrate International Roma Day on 8 April and the 50 th anniversary of the First World Romani Congress and the awakening of a “Romani Movement” to promote Roma history, culture and
identity, and to fight for human rights, justice, equality and better representation at political level. This will be broadcast in connection with a symbolic event at the Council of Europe.

Online/virtual visits to museums or places of remembrance of the Roma Holocaust and expressions of Roma culture, arts and identity will also be proposed in addition to the formal programme of the conference.
The programme contents will be structured on three main issues:

  • 7 April: Roma history and Roma Holocaust Remembrance
  • 8 April: Celebrating Roma history, arts, culture and identity as well as the 50 th anniversary of the emergence of a Romani human rights movement
  • 9 April: Furthering youth action, mobilisation, inclusion and participation

Each thematic will feature key inputs, sharing of experiences and workshops facilitated by partner organisations, including Roma youth organisations. Specific links will be made with projects of the Youth Department and of the Roma and Travellers Team that intersect withyouth participation, history, and remembrance. The conference will close with the presentation of conclusions and proposals for furtheringwork on Roma history with young people and ways to expand Roma youth participation based on double mainstreaming.

The conference is designed for Roma and non-Roma young people, youth leaders and representatives of organisations and networks working with Roma communities from all across Europe who are also:
• Motivated to share experiences and engage in dialogue and cooperation with other
• Active within a Roma organisation or a (Roma) youth organisation
• Able to work/communicate in English, French or Romani
• Able to connect to the Internet for the time of the conference.
Priority will be given to participants under 30 years of age. The Council of Europe welcomes applications from all candidates who fulfil the profile above, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial, ethnic or social origin, colour, religion, belief or sexual orientation.

How to participate
Participation in the whole event is subject to registration. Open until 26 March at Participants attending at least 80% of the conference will receive a certificate of attendance.
More information:

The official call can be found here