Dream to Grow

Dream to grow: How to make Europe’s labor markets a place for all

Co-hosted by: European Roma Grassroots Organizations Network (ERGO) and the Romani Early Years Network (REYN), an initiative of ISSA – the International Step by Step Association

October 7th, 14:00 – 16:00 CET

  • Find the agenda and catalogue of human books here.
  • Sign up here to receive access to the online event.

Although almost ten years have passed since the adoption of the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, Roma remain widely exposed to antigypsyism, poverty and social exclusion without opportunities to access proper education, employment, or training. They keep facing unequal treatment and inequalities in health, education, employment, and living conditions, a gap which has continued to widen following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

63% of Roma aged 16-24 are not employed, in education or training (55% of young Roma men and 72% of young Roma women) and 40% of Roma report feeling discriminated at work! Even if they manage to secure employment, they often continue to face lower wages, precarious and atypical contracts, a lack of career options, and direct discrimination and harassment of employers and colleagues.

Eliminating such inequalities and promoting positive models of inclusion and diversity starting from the very beginning of life must be a priority not only for EU and national policy makers, but also for every person in Europe. Diversity does not only benefit minorities, but also impacts greatly on the quality of services offered and on society.

Acknowledging that it is fundamental to rewrite the current narrative about Roma and restore their dignity and pride, this event aspires to share inspiring stories highlighting Roma professionals’ different pathways to become who they are today and showing the difference that enabling, inclusive and diverse educational and working environments can make for society.

Why should you join this event:

  • Get inspired by real-life stories of Roma professionals who have succeeded to break the wall of prejudices and stereotypes and realized their dreams by participating in the online Human Library.
  • Learn about the advocacy efforts civil society organizations are doing to ensure equity, inclusion and diversity in education and at work.
  • Reflect together about the multilayered challenges and unequal treatment young Roma are facing in Europe and the long-term consequences of political inaction.
  • Benefit from lessons learned in implementing inclusive policies and practices and discover how to become part of the solution.

This event receives funding from the European Union. The information contained reflects only the author’s view; and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

This event is co-funded by the Open Society Foundations Early Childhood Program. The program has been providing continous support to the Romani Early Years Network initiative since its start.

Quality Standards for the Youth Guarantee- #RomaYouth as focus

Quality Standards for the Youth Guarantee- #RomaYouth as focus

The European Youth Guarantee so far failed to provide quality offers to marginalized groups, including #RomaYouth.

Together with other civil society organizations, ERGO Network has contributed to a set of Quality Standards for the Youth Guarantee proposed by the European Youth Forum.

The recommendation paper is aimed to contribute to the communication issued by the European Commission and debated in the European Parliament and Council “Youth Employment Support: a bridge to jobs for the next generation” which will be adopted later this year.

ERGO stands for several standards to be included in the new strategy and make sure that Roma youth are not overlooked in the implementation process. Please read the publication here.

The role of Social Economy in supporting Roma social and economic inclusion

ERGO Network position paper: The role of Social Economy in supporting Roma social and economic inclusion in a Covid-19 context

Directly to the position paper.

Europe and the world are facing an unprecedented social and economic shock, brought about by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Europeans have lost their incomes, their homes, their security, and even their loved ones. In this context, Roma communities throughout the continent have been particularly hard hit, having to face, in addition to the above, a sharp rise in both popular and institutional antigypsyism, as well as police brutality and numerous breaches of their human rights. The road to healing and recovery will be long and difficult for all, but it will be particularly challenging for those already facing extreme hardship, poverty, and social exclusion, such as Europe’s Roma. However, social economy can support better Roma inclusion, wellbeing and participation, as well as trust-building with the majority community.

Traditional business models are based on a philosophy of maximising profit (or return on investment), which is then distributed to investors or owners (shareholders). Conversely, social economy is a model where the profit is entirely reinvested in the expansion of the enterprise, and/or used to finance social inclusion and community development projects. Because of its explicit objective to contribute to improved societal outcomes particularly for vulnerable groups, and because of its bottom-up, community-rooted approach based on ownership, social economy can play a key role in ensuring social and economic inclusion, equal rights, and wellbeing for Roma communities in the post Covid-19 recovery process.

The social economy sector has already proved its exceptional resilience during the previous economic crisis, and it is now, fittingly, back in focus in the European discourse. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has entrusted Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, with the development of an Action Plan on Social Economy. This is a key opportunity to ensure that social economy is used as a powerful and effective tool to deliver Roma inclusion on the ground, not least in a post-pandemic context.

This position paper is rooted in the direct experience of ERGO Network national members, Roma and pro-Roma civil society organisations working at grassroots level in European countries. It aims at exploring the positive interplay between the role of social economy in today’s development models and Roma rights and inclusion. It reviews what is needed at national level in order to build strong, sustainable social economy enterprises, which contribute in a positive way to the social and economic inclusion of Europeans of Romani origin across the continent, as a number of good practices from different national contexts, in the Annex.

The publication will be launched in the framework of ERGO Network’s annual public policy event, to be organised in November together with Social Economy Europe and the Social Economy Intergroup in the European Parliament – more details will follow soon.

Access the position paper here.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on social economy and about the upcoming public policy event, please contact Amana Ferro, Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.

A Place for All

A Place for All – ERGO Network’s employment campaign

ERGO Network is launching its new campaign ‘A Place for All’, shedding light on the important role that employers play in supporting the employment of Roma and other ethnic minorities, as well as on the benefits that an inclusive workforce.

Roma employment – it should be obvious – is important for Roma themselves, for the employers and for society as a whole.

  • Improving Roma access to quality employment breaks the cycle of poverty, discrimination and exclusion and gives people back their dignity.
  • Getting more Roma into employment helps counter widespread stereotypes based on antigypsyism.
  • Having more employed Roma creates positive role models for the inclusion of Roma communities.
  • A diverse workforce increases emotional intelligence, creativity and productivity in any workplace.
  • A diverse workforce builds trust with minority customers and service users.
  • Hiring more Roma is a smart economic choice, improving growth and combatting demographic change.


Through the Place for All campaign, ERGO Network will therefore raise employers’ awareness of the benefits of an inclusive and diverse workplace as well as of the motivation and competencies of young Roma. It will also highlight employers’ good practices in diversity and inclusion and encourage others to follow their example.

How will the campaign work?

The main focus of the campaign will be on employers who have been approved by ERGO Network members as inclusive employers and who sign the Place for All pledge, reaffirming their commitment to making their workplace a place for all. These employers will be awarded a badge and will be promoted by the ERGO Network. This will include sharing of their good practices, providing further support and generally giving them visibility. In the future, once a group of employers in several countries has been awarded the badge, ERGO Network members can furthermore organize peer learning, networking and exchanges between these employers.

To not only highlight employers, but also Roma employees who overcame the huge hurdle of antigypsyism – manifesting itself in poverty, lack of education and discrimination by employers – we will at the same time feature inspiring stories of Roma employees from different countries.

Follow the campaign on its Facebook page and ERGO Network’s social media accounts to get to know the first awarded employers and inspiring stories!

Do you know an employer who fits our profile? Contact info@ergonetwork.org or ask them to sign up for the badge directly on our website: www.ergonetwork.org/employment.


The campaign has been made possible thanks to the financial support of the European Commission’s EaSI Programme.

European Semester – ERGO response to the country reports

European Semester: European Commission releases Winter Package
What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 26 February 2020, the European Commission published the so-called Winter Package, comprising the 28 Country Reports 2020 (including the United Kingdom), and the usual Communication on Country Reports, in the framework of the 2020 European Semester.

The European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network warmly welcomes the explicit mention of the European Roma in the Communication on the Country Reports, which states “Equal access to high-quality education and training from an early age is also essential to promote equality of opportunities and to foster inclusion, including of underrepresented groups such as Roma…”. However, we are disappointed that the Roma are mentioned exclusively under education and training. There are no references to the fact that Roma people in Europe face poverty and social exclusion at rates of over 80% in most Member States, that their employment, health, housing and other indicators are extremely low compared to the majority of the population, and that antigypsyism and discrimination continue to be rampant.

This approach is mirrored by the very vast majority of the individual Country Reports included in the Package, according to the review performed by the ERGO Network and its national members. Read below the Key Messages derived from this analysis and access the full report here:

  1. Only 6 Country Reports explicitly refer to the Roma, despite most of them across Europe experiencing severe discrimination, marginalisation and segregation, poverty, poor living conditions, and very low employment, education, and health outcomes.
  1. The National Roma Integration Strategies are not given enough prominence and support in the vast majority of Country Reports, evidencing a lack of effective integration of the EU Roma Framework in the European Semester and its processes.
  1. The national approach to Roma rights and inclusion continues to be piecemeal in most countries, while a comprehensive, integrated policy response, rooted in realities across all social areas and equally tackling antigypsyism, is lacking.
  1. The approach to Roma communities is consistent with an unfortunate lack of prioritizing of issues related to ethnic minorities and discrimination throughout the Country Reports.
  1. Civil society organisations are only rarely mentioned as key partners in the design, implementation, and monitoring of public policies, thus weakening the effectiveness of interventions, as well as undermining ownership and democratic decision-making processes.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on EU social inclusion and employment policy (European Semester, Europe 2020, European Pillar of Social Rights, Sustainable Development Goals etc), please contact Senior Policy Adviser Amana Ferro.