Youth Statement on the occasion of April 8 – International Roma Day 2021

Youth Statement on the occasion of April 8 – International Roma Day 2021

As young people and representatives of Roma youth organisations networks we have met to share our experiences and together celebrate International Roma Day and the 50th anniversary of the first World Romani Congress. While the roots of Romani activism go back to the 19th century, 8 April 1971 constitutes a turning point for Roma communities around the world, when activists moved their struggle to the international arena. We take pride on the achievements of our elders, pioneers and predecessors of the Roma movement.

We acknowledge the efforts of the Council of Europe and its Youth Department towards Roma youth emancipation and empowerment, active youth participation and in combating antigypsyism. We especially welcome the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials and the preparation of a future recommendation on Roma youth participation. Roma arts and culture play a central role in restoring Roma dignity and challenging the predominantly negative image of Roma people among the majority. Roma arts and culture remain greatly under-represented in majority spaces and cultural narratives, both internationally and nationally. This supports dominant discourses and imagery that are negative and stereotypical. More Roma narratives and representations in public spaces are necessary to challenge antigypsyism. By including Roma arts, culture and history in future Roma-focused policies and measures, the Council of Europe member states will send a message that European and national cultural narratives should highlight Roma belonging, contributions and achievements. We take pride on our history, arts and culture; their diversity enriches our communities and our societies.

We want Roma youth to have access to their own culture and have tools to enjoy and promote their cultural identity, history and dignity. We want to fight stigma associated with Roma and to prevent antigypsyism with alternative discourses rooted in self-representation and in Roma leadership.

We express our concern about the continued neglect of several important aspects by policy makers when it comes to Roma youth inclusion. We express our deep concern about the rise of antigypsyism, anti-Roma rhetoric and violent attacks against Roma in Europe, which are supported by some political movements, populist politicians and irresponsible media. Antigypsyism remains a greater challenge in today’s Europe and for young Roma people in our countries. The most frequent concerns for Roma youth are related to racism and discrimination together with access to education, training and schooling. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Roma settlements have been cordoned off, water supplies have been partially cut off, and people have been barred from food and medical supplies. Violent attacks by the police and gendarmerie have occurred several times on Roma communities in the past months.

There is still a lack of knowledge among the majority of society about Roma history, culture, antigypsyism and the Roma Genocide that took place during World War II. Until today the Roma Holocaust still does not form part of the canon of European history and remains largely unknown. In 2015, the European Parliament passed a Resolution declaring 2 August as “European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day” in memory of the at least 500,000 Roma exterminated during the Second World War by the Nazi and other regimes and their allies. Despite this, many governments have not yet officially recognised the historical facts and a common historical responsibility. The Council of Europe should ensure that the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the inclusion of the history of Roma and Travellers in school curricula and teaching materials is implemented.

Social and economic exclusion has just been deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic, as many Roma students found themselves unable to access online education, due to absent infrastructure and equipment (the digital divide), while in the long run it still represents the biggest challenge for Roma youth participation and results in political and cultural exclusion as well. Roma youth are part of the largest and youngest ethnic minority in Europe and strive for economic empowerment and participation. We insist that all necessary measures are taken and funded in order to encourage their economic and educational efforts and enable them to access national labour markets. We want to see Roma youth entrepreneurship highlighted and promoted as an important aspect that could not only contribute to economic empowerment but also strengthen the path of social inclusion and active citizenship of young Roma. We call on the Council of Europe member States to seek active dialogue with Roma youth organisations and to ensure lasting mechanisms of empowerment and participation of young Roma. We call on national governments to allocate national and European funding to invest in Roma youth organisations as engines of change.

Many Roma young people experience multiple discrimination that hinders their human rights; this concerns, among others, LGBTQIA+ Roma, Roma girls, Roma migrants and Roma with disabilities. Acknowledging the great vulnerability of these groups, targeting them with special and complex measures and providing mechanisms to empower them and fight inequalities within and outside of Roma communities is an important challenge, which deserves to be addressed in all EU and national mainstream policies. Approaches that take into account intersectional identities are necessary.

We call on the Council of Europe:
• to improve the good practice of Roma youth involvement and expertise in processes of policy making.
• to improve the coordination of policies concerning Roma youth among European institutions and stakeholders and to improve the communication between these institutions.
• to invest in strengthening the capacity and structures of Roma youth organisations.
• to enable the monitoring of policies being implemented by setting up a permanent working group consisting of Roma youth.
• to call on member states to make Roma Youth a priority within National Roma Strategies. Roma youth organisations must be involved in the National Roma Platforms and in important consultation mechanisms concerning Roma and youth issues.
• to emphasise the importance of double mainstreaming – including Roma issues in youth policies and youth issues in Roma policies and to encourage the European Youth Forum and National Youth Councils to ensure the meaningful participation of Roma youth individuals and organisations in their mainstream structures.

We demand a return to the values that have enriched Europe. These values such as solidarity, respect for diversity and human rights need to be continuously and consistently respected. European society can only be powerful if it has a strong Roma youth. Therefore, all relevant policy measures must be framed by, with and for Roma Youth in respectful and equal cooperation with non-Roma youth and the majority societies as a whole

This statement is also available in French and Romanes, and you can find them here

Call for Applications

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Analysis of bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion and funding programs

The European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network is contracting external consultants to prepare a study consisting of the following two parts:

  1. Study on importance of bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion
  2. Analysis of current funding programs on Roma inclusion in Europe

ERGO Network brings together over 30 members from across Europe and supports organisations with a common perspective on Roma grassroots empowerment and equal citizenship to challenge stereotypes and combat stigmatization. We mobilize and connect organisations and individuals that share and express our values – active citizenship, shared responsibility, and passion – to strengthen and empower Roma civil society involvement in decision-making at local, national and European level and to address existing shortcomings of policies targeted at Roma.

Role of the consultant

Through the ”New solutions to old problems – exchange of new types of approaches in the field of Roma integration” project, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation, ERGO Network is contracting an external expert to

  • Analyze programs supporting Roma inclusion that use bottom-up and community development schemes and
  • Analyze existing top-down funding programs for Roma inclusion, their benefits, and pitfalls. Specifically, the consultant is expected to prepare two reports of approximately up to 25 pages each, in English, with conclusions and concrete recommendations for improvement of funding programs.

First drafts should be delivered by 31 July 2021 and final reports by 31 August 2021. Both studies can be conducted by same consultant.

Profile of the consultant

  • A consultant can be an individual, institution or organization.
  •  Proven knowledge about Roma inclusion policies
  •  Experience working with Roma civil society.
  •  Excellent writing skills
  •  Proven research and analytical skills
  •  Ability to work independently.

Contract and budget

The independent consultant will be subcontracted by ERGO Network and has no rights vis-à-vis the EEA and Norway Grants for Regional Cooperation. He/She reports to ERGO Network. Each of the two reports will be renumerated with 2000 €, VAT and all costs and charges included.

Aims of the Study on importance of funding bottom-up approaches to Roma inclusion

  •  To analyse challenges and advantages of top-down and bottom-up funding programs and approaches used by different donors in Europe.
  •  To raise awareness among (Roma) civil society and donors on the importance of investing in local level initiatives that are participatory and led by Roma civil society.
  •  To provide recommendations to private donors, governments, and international institutions on the design of funding programmes targeting Roma inclusion and empowerment, to further promote the bottom-up approach and community participation.

Aims of the Analysis of funding programs on Roma inclusion

  •  To give an overview of current funding programs for Roma inclusion of institutional and private donors in Europe, and their type of approach (top-down or bottom-up)
  •  To raise awareness of private donors on the importance of investing in Roma inclusion and empowerment.
  •  To showcase examples of funding that could contribute to capacity building for a better use of funds.
  •  To identify barriers and success stories of bottom-up approaches in addressing the needs of Roma
  •  To provide recommendations to private donors, governments, and international institutions on the design of funding programmes targeting Roma inclusion and empowerment
  •  To provide Roma and pro-Roma civil society organizations with tips and information on the how to reach donors.

The applicants should submit:

  •  An updated CV
  •  Recent history of published research and links to the publications
  •  A proposal for the structure of the study/studies – possible content, research question and methodology

The application package should be submitted by 5 May 2021 to info@ergonetwork.org with the subject – name of the study you are applying for.

Council reaffirms commitment to combat discrimination against Roma

Council reaffirms commitment to combat discrimination against Roma

Today the Council adopted a recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation, stepping up the member states’ commitment to effectively fight discrimination against Roma people and to promote their inclusion in the key areas of education, employment, health and housing. The Recommendation also reflects the needs of specific groups and the diversity of the Roma population. It replaces the December 2013 Council recommendation on effective Roma integration measures and has an expanded scope, including measures to:

  • fight online and offline discrimination (including harassment, antigypsyism, stereotyping, anti-Roma rhetoric and hate speech)
  • combat multiple and structural discrimination against Roma, in particular women, children, LGBTI persons and persons with disabilities
  • promote multi-cultural awareness-raising activities and campaigns in schools.

The recommendation highlights the importance of the equal participation of Roma in society and of their role in policy-making. It outlines a comprehensive list of suggested measures in key areas ranging from access to education, the labour market and health to promoting active participation in civil society and partnerships. It also seeks to improve target setting, data collection, monitoring and reporting and to make mainstream policies more sensitive to Roma equality and inclusion. Moreover, the Recommendation highlights the importance of the gender perspective.

According to the recommendation, member states should adopt national Roma strategic frameworks within their broader social inclusion policies improving the situation of Roma, and communicate them to the European Commission, preferably by September 2021. Member states are also encouraged to include and promote rights of and equal opportunities for Roma in their national Recovery and Resilience plans.

EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 2021

EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 2021

It is with great pleasure to announce the launch of the EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 2021” dedicated to the extraordinary people that promote Roma equality through employment.

The EU Roma Integration Award 2021 will promote private or public initiatives sensitive to the problem of lack of employment in the Roma communities, offer recognition, publicity and support to the positive models yielding concrete, tangible results.

The award is open to public and private institutions, companies and businesses, employers, (including but not limited to SME, social businesses, entrepreneurship initiatives and other employment initiatives); teachers, health care actors and Civil Society (organisations and individuals) – Roma and non-Roma – established and residing in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Turkey.

The competition is open to both self-nominations (applications directly from the initiative seeking to receive the award), and nominations from other stakeholders wanting to draw attention to a relevant initiative

Submission

Submission of self-nominations shall be via e-mail in the address: Application_EU_Award_2021@raa.al

    • The title of the email must contain the initials of the applicant and the country of origin.

Submission of nominations shall be via email in the address: Nomination_EU_Award_2021@raa.al

    • The title of the email must contain the acronym of the nominator, initials of the nominee and the country of origin

Applications and nominations, along with the supporting documents, can also be sent by post at the address:

Roma Active Albania Rr. “YlbereBylykbashi”; P. 25; Shk. 2; Ap. 4; Tirana, Albania

In this case, only the applications/nominations received by us within the deadline will be considered. Applications reaching by post later than the set deadline shall not be considered for evaluation.

The deadline for application is 30th of April 2021, 23:59 local time

The award is hosted by the European Commission, funded by IPA Funds and implemented by Roma Active Albania

For more information please refer to the link:

https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/news_corner/news/call-applications-now-open-2021-eu-award-roma-integration-western-balkans-and_en

For follow and update please consult with:

https://www.facebook.com/EuAwardforRomaIntegration/

ERGO’s response to EC proposal for Joint Employment Report 2021

European Commission releases proposal for Joint Employment Report 2021 – What’s in it for Europe’s Roma?

On 18 November 2020, the European Commission published the draft Joint Employment Report, published this year separately from the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS), which was released in September (see ERGO Network’s reaction to it here).

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. The structure of the Joint Employment Report does not appear to have changed (as it was the case for the ASGS), as it continues to track Member State performance in the areas covered by the Employment Guidelines and by the Social Scoreboard of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The impact on the pandemic on the employment and social situation in Member States is equally included in detail throughout the Report, as well as the national measures aimed at mitigating it.

ERGO Network warmly welcomes the multiple explicit references to the European Roma in the draft Joint Employment Report, but laments that, once again, they are exclusively mentioned in relation to education (pages 61, 88, and 107). The Report highlights that “Roma inclusion in education is a challenge that could become more prominent as a result of the COVID-19 crisis”, that “Effective enforcement of legislative changes for Roma inclusion in mainstream education remains important”, and that The NEET rate of Roma is much higher than that of the general population.” Travellers are also named once in the document, in the same section.

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. ERGO Network shares the concerns related to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen a large number of Roma children deprived of the possibility to access online education, which only contributes to widening the gap with the general population. The digital divide is equally mentioned, in what concerns lack of access to infrastructure (internet coverage, electricity), equipment (PC, tablets etc) and knowledge (digital skills).

While the importance of affirmative action is recognized as a useful approach for ensuring equal opportunities, the Report takes a strong stance against segregation, calling for active measures to prevent it, as well as additional financial and professional support. Measures include educational mediators, scholarships, after school activities, language courses, free public transport, access to early childhood education and care, setting up antisegregation working groups, combatting the placing of Roma children in special needs classes or schools. These are very positive steps, already recorded in a number of countries, very much in line with ERGO Network’s own position and recommendations on quality, inclusive, and desegregated education.

Despite the very positive content on combatting school segregation and improving Roma educational attainment and completion, all the above measures are one sided and refer exclusively to educational establishments, while no mention is made of wrap-around support for families, access to adequate income, support towards quality jobs, decent housing, other services. This is despite the Report’s own admission that “In all Member States, the poverty risk for children raised by a single parent or in families with more than 3 children or with a migrant or Roma background is two to three times higher than that of other children.”

Tackling structural problems like persistent poverty or rampant discrimination, does not seem to be a concern, nor is proposing an integrated approach to the multiple difficulties faced by Roma citizens in Europe. The EU Strategic Framework for Roma Equality, Inclusion, and Participation is not mentioned anywhere in the text, nor is its predecessor. The Report completely overlooks the fact that the Roma are overrepresented in unemployment and poverty rates and face significant obstacles in accessing adequate social protection and key services, such as affordable housing, or quality health- and long-term care, including childcare. The Report also contains no reference to the situation of ethnic minorities or combatting antigypsyism and racism.

Encouragingly, the Joint Employment Report contains a full paragraph supporting the participation and direct engagement of beneficiaries and their civil society organisations in the design and implementation of policies that concern them (page 122), which is also stipulated in Guideline 7 of the Employment Guidelines.

ERGO Network hopes that the new decade will bring closer alignment between the EU Roma Strategic Framework and the European Semester, in full synergy with delivery on the of the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Pillar of Social Rights, to ensure that Europe’s Roma are not left behind, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery.