CLLD Meeting with EC desk officers

ERGO Network members meet EC desk officers to discuss Community-Led Local Development

On 11 March 2021, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network facilitated an online exchange meeting between its national members in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Romania, and their counterparts in the country desks of DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL), DG Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO), and DG Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI). Other European Commission staff responsible for related affairs was also in attendance.

The main topics covered in the meeting were:

  • Presentation of the main findings of the ERGO Network evaluation report of the CLLD cycle 2014-2020 in the three countries.
  • Updates on the possibility to introduce the Roma indicators in connecting the EU Roma Strategic Framework with EU funds.
  • Updates on how to best feed Roma realities and proposals (particularly with a view to the pandemic and recovery) in the current MFF negotiations.
  • Updates on the preparation of the National Roma Strategic Frameworks and National Recovery and Resilience Plans.

ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová recalled that the organisation had been engaging extensively with CLLD processes since 2014, given the key role these processes can play in empowering Roma communities to identify bottom-up, beneficiary-led solutions that can tackle Roma poverty and social exclusion. Ms Hrabaňová pointed to the comprehensive synthesis report ERGO Network produced this year, evaluating the CLLD cycle for its entire duration (2014-2020) from a Roma perspective in three countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania. She concluded by reassuring desk officers that ERGO Network national members and staff stood committed, willing, and able to provide all necessary input and feedback from their work directly at grassroots level, to make sure that the voice of the Roma was being heard.

  • Access here the ERGO Network publication “Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) for Roma inclusion. Evaluation Report 2014-2020”

Daniel Grebeldinger, ERGO Network CLLD expert (Nevo Parudimos, Romania) offered participants a comprehensive presentation of the main findings of the evaluation report. Roma involvement in CLLD and Local Action Group structures remained unequal, while more work needed to be done to build the capacity of all actors involved – local authorities, other LAG members, Roma NGOs, and community leaders – to engage with these processes. Cooperation with the Managing Authorities was not always smooth, and delays in launching the calls and the evaluations persisted, making planning and delivering projects a challenge. While more and more local development strategies had included Roma as priority beneficiaries, further efforts were needed to ensure that interventions genuinely reached the Roma and made a difference in their lives, with their full participation. The ERGO Network report presents concrete recommendations for the Managing Authorities, for the LAGs, and for Roma communities themselves.

The presentation was followed by an interactive Q&A session with the European Commission representatives in attendance, where specific points of the report were further elaborated upon. After the opening plenary, participants split into breakout rooms according to countries, in order to be able to exchange bilaterally in more detail about specific national concerns. ERGO Network will continue to engage closely with CLLD processes on the ground, with a view to ensure that Roma rights, inclusion, and participation were prioritized in this framework. The dialogue with the European Commission will continue through follow-up exchange meetings.

 

  • Access here the report of the online exchange meeting between ERGO Network national members and the European Commission (plenary only).

Roma inclusion in the Community-Led Local Development

Roma inclusion in the Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) cycle 2014-2020

Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) is an initiative for involving citizens at local level in developing responses to today’s social, environmental, and economic challenges, and a promising tool for investing in Roma inclusion. Unemployment, poverty, and social exclusion, which are key topics for Europe’s Roma, are among the challenges that the EU has identified for CLLD. Approved CLLD strategies can mean that significant EU funds are available for several years to support those activities and investments that matter the most. The European Commission equally expects CLLD to give ownership to beneficiaries, with a special focus on marginalized communities, through capacity building, empowerment, full transparency, and sharing of the decision-making power.

ERGO Network invests in and supports (pro-) Roma NGOs, community-based organisations, and Roma activists to become involved in CLLD initiatives in their countries, so that as many CLLD strategies as possible tackle Roma exclusion. During 2020, ERGO Network members conducted comprehensive research in three key countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania), to evaluate the functioning and implementation of the CLLD cycle 2014-2020, with a view to assessing the extent to which Roma inclusion was mainstreamed throughout the CLLD processes, in what concerns both the content of the activities, as well as stakeholder involvement. The partners carrying out this research were Integro Association (Bulgaria), Slovo 21 (Czech Republic), Nevo Parudimos (Romania).

The objectives of the evaluation were:

  • To provide evidence on the inclusion of Roma in all stages of the CLLD process
  • To assess the quality of Roma inclusion in development strategies and funded projects
  • To empower Local Action Groups through increased knowledge of CLLD and strengthen accountability mechanisms at local level
  • To empower Roma to take part in the CLLD processes
  • To provide recommendations on improvements in the CLLD process to foster Roma inclusion for the next programming period
  • To showcase good practices of CLLD projects which put the Roma at their core.

Download the full synthesis evaluation report here!

Meeting with EC desk officers on CLLD

ERGO NETWORK DELEGATION OF NATIONAL MEMBERS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF LOCAL ACTION GROUPS MEET EUROPEAN COMMISSION DESK OFFICERS TO DISCUSS CLLD

 On 10 and 11 October, ERGO Network facilitated a meeting between its national members and representatives of Local Action Groups from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Romania, and the Desk Officers responsible for these countries from the European Commission Directorates- General for Regional and Urban Policy (REGIO), for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and for Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), to discuss the current state of implementation of Community-Led Local Development (CLLD).

ERGO Network has been working on CLLD approaches for the past seven years and considers it an essential tool for ensuring bottom-up approaches and interventions are rooted in real needs on the ground, with the full involvement of Roma communities. CLLD processes offer a great potential to engage Roma people more actively in shaping the future of their local areas, through the possibility to join local partnerships that design and implement an integrated local development strategy.

However, research conducted by ERGO Network in 2019 shows that further steps are needed to ensure the smooth implementation of CLLD initiatives, in what concerns both Roma engagement with its delivery structures, as well as prioritising Roma inclusion as a specific objection of the funded projects. Some of the key issues needing improvement, as identified by the report, are insufficient knowledge at the local level and in Roma communities about CLLD, low rate of participation of Roma communities and their NGOs in CLLD processes, and complex bureaucracy, burdensome administrative demands, and lengthy deadlines.

During the meetings with European Commission representatives on 10 and 11 October, the ERGO Network delegation presented the findings of the research report, while participants from the national level further complemented the synthesis conclusions with a wealth of detail regarding the situation in their specific countries. Additionally, the exchanges with desk officers focussed on the best way to tackle these shortcomings, specifically around three key topics:

  • How can we ensure an increased financial allocation for CLLD per country?
  • How to open the possibility for CLLD to use the multi-fund approach?
  • How to introduce a specific Roma indicator for CLLD projects?

The common discussion was followed by bilateral exchanges between the national representatives and their desk officer counterparts. All participants deemed the meeting very timely and useful in the context of upcoming negotiations with Member States on the Multiannual Financial Framework. European Commission officials thanked the ERGO Network for its involvement and hard work, which was considered extremely helpful also in preparing the Commission’s next meeting with National Governments, scheduled for November-December.

  • To know more about Community-Led Local Development (CLLD), please click here.
  • To consult an overview of ERGO Network’s activities on CLLD, please click here.
  • To access ERGO Network’s 2019 Synthesis Report on CLLD (see above), please click here.
  • For more information about ERGO Network’s current work on CLLD, please contact Director Gabriela Hrabaňová.

Roma participation in Community-Led Local Development

Roma participation in Community-Led Local Development

Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) is an initiative for involving citizens at local level in developing responses to today’s social, environmental and economic challenges, and a promising tool for investing in Roma inclusion. The European Commission expects CLLD to facilitate implementing integrated approaches among the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to achieve the 11 thematic objectives set out in the Common Provision Regulation (CPR) at local level. It aims to give ownership to beneficiaries, with a special focus on marginalized communities, through capacity building, empowerment, full transparency, and sharing of the decision-making power. The Commission encourages the use of CLLD to allow local communities to take ownership of the targets of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

ERGO members conducted research in four key countries (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania), aimed at assessing the extent to which Roma inclusion was mainstreamed throughout the CLLD processes, in what concerns both the content of the activities, as well as stakeholder involvement. The research was funded through the International Visegrad Fund.
This research was aimed at ensuring increased awareness of the CLLD process, leading to more Roma NGOs taking part in CLLD. Another aim was that CLLD, as a good practice tool, would be continued after 2020, with 10% of EU funds being distributed according to CLLD principles.

Download the report here.

Roma inclusion through local partnerships

On 3 December 2018, ERGO Network concluded the first year of its 4-year work programme RIISE (Roma Included in Social Europe) with a panel debate discussing how Roma inclusion can be fostered through meaningful local partnerships.

Emphasising the importance of Roma participation in all stages of decision-making, from the local to the European level, is one of the founding principles of ERGO Network, and many of our activities focus on building trust and partnerships between Roma communities and institutions.

During the panel debate, the speakers highlighted several angles, good examples and pitfalls of partnerships on local level.

The event was opened by introductory remarks from Romeo Franz, Member of the European Parliament for the Greens/EFA and Andor Urmos, Policy Analyst, Directorate General for Regional Policy, European Commission.

It was followed by a panel moderated by former ERGO Network director Ruus Dijksterhuis, who discussed with Dominique Be (DG Employment), Maaike Buyst (Eurocities), Dijana Pavlovic (Upre Roma Italy), Valeriu Capraru (National Federation of Local Action Groups Romania), Tobias Mayr (Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe) and Andrey Ivanov, Fundamental Rights Agency.

Dijana Pavlovic opened the panel by describing the local reality in Italy, where the level of antigypsyism also in local authorities is extreme. Building partnerships is difficult in a climate where Romani people always have to fear to lose their home during regular evictions.

Dominique Be presented the ROMACT programme, a joint initiative between the European Commission and the Council of Europe that seeks to assist mayors and municipal authorities to work together with local Roma communities to develop policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including Roma. Maaike Buyst spoke about several good practice examples of municipalities in Eurocities Roma inclusion working group, for example Ghent or Goteburg, including Roma mediators, Roma councils and other initiatives. Tobias Mayr presented the Declaration against anti-Gypsyism of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the Inclusion of Roma and Travellers.

Valeriu Capraru spoke about opportunities and challenges for Roma inclusion through Local Action Groups in the CLLD process. Andrey Ivanov, Head of Sector Roma and Migrant Integration, Technical Assistance & Capacity Building, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: presented the new report of the Local engagement for Roma inclusion” (“LERI”) project.

It became clear that two issues are important: Partnerships need to be backed by proper funding and capacity-building of both Roma civil society and local authorities, and antigypsyism need to be tackled on all levels in order to ensure trust of Roma towards institutions.

The conference was closed by ERGO board member Adriatik Hasantari together with Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of Unit Non-discrimination and Roma coordination European Commission, DG Justice, and Marie-Anne Paraskevas, Senior Policy Expert, Social Affairs & Inclusion, European Commission, DG Employment.

After the debate, the participants were invited to celebrate the ten years anniversary of ERGO Network together with ERGO staff and members, going together through the history of ERGO empowering the Roma grassroots and bridging Roma realities with EU policy-making.