Fighting antigypsyism as a precondition to achieve equality for Roma

Regional Conference: Fighting antigypsyism as a precondition to achieve equality for Roma

On 22 June, ERGO Network together with the Central Council for German Sinti and Roma, the Roma Active Albania and Equinet co-organised the Regional Conference: Fighting Antigypsyism as a Precondition to Achieve Equality for Roma – The Role of Ombudsperson Institutions and Equality Bodies. The Conference brought together equality bodies, national human rights institutions and civil society organisations from Western Balkan countries, European Commission Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Germany. Participants discussed on the role of equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national Roma strategic frameworks to tackle antigypsyism based on the principles of non-discrimination and equality set out in the EU Treaties, reaffirmed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Racial Equality Directive 2000/43/EC and the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.

Some of the conclusions highlighted inter alia that equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions:

  • have a mandate to deal with discrimination using civil and administrative law and most of them have a mandate to deal with hate speech using their general mandate for promotion of equality and fighting discrimination or broadly interpreting their mandate to tackle harassment.
  • should also have a mandate to start own-initiative cases and use strategic litigation as an effective means to reach an impact that goes beyond the individual case.
  • even in the absence of an explicit legal mandate to cover certain issues related to antigypsyism (such as hate crimes, for instance), can gather information, commission or conduct studies to reveal the extent and manifestations of antigypsyism
  • can contribute with independent reports in the implementation of national Roma strategic frameworks.
  • should raise awareness about antigypsyism and widely communicate positive, values-based messages; use their powers to advise governments and other policymakers so that policies and legislation contributes to challenging antigypsyism; use their powers to work with duty bearers, such as employers and service providers, to spread good equality practices
  • should ensure close and structured cooperation with civil society. Equality bodies should enter into a constructive dialogue with pro-Roma civil society that should include mutual education where each party shares their unique knowledge and expertise
  • work closely with Roma and involve them in their activities – as trainers and trainees, as valued partners and as employees of the equality body and ombudsperson institution.

The conference also emphasized the need for equality bodies and ombudsperson institutions to be provided with the necessary human and financial resources, powers and independence to conduct their work effectively. Participants saw this regional conference between equality bodies, the EU and civil society as an important step in building a closer and structured cooperation in fighting structural antigypsyism.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on anti racism contact Isabela Mihalache , Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.

 

ERGO report: Impact of Covid-19

The impact of Covid-19 on Roma communities in the European Union and the Western Balkans

Together with partners from seven EU Member States, five Western Balkan countries and Turkey, ERGO Network has prepared an in-depth study about the devastating impact that the Covid-19 pandemic had and continue to has on Roma and Travellers across Europe.

Access the study here. 

The data collected in this survey confirms that marginalized Roma and Travellers are amongst the most affected and impacted by Covid-19, mainly due to their devastating living conditions and exclusion, triggered by widespread antigypsyism. As this study suggests, during the pandemic many Roma and Travellers living in poverty found it very hard to protect themselves from getting the virus because of lack of access to water and sanitation. This was even harder for those living in segregated and informal settlements and/or improvised shelters.

Despite some positive responses regarding immediate measures taken by some governments and local authorities to assist vulnerable groups, including Roma and Travellers, increasing concerns from our members called for more consolidated data in order to better understand the situation of Roma and Travellers in the EU and Western Balkans and Turkey. The data is necessary to advocate for  better institutional and political coordination and a focus on minimising the impact of the pandemic in its second and/ or third wave on vulnerable communities including Roma and Travellers.

As a result, ERGO Network together with its members and partner organisations prepared national surveys in seven EU countries and six Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The results of this survey constitute the basis of this report. Besides data on key areas of access to education, employment, basic needs, health and housing, migration, discrimination and gender aspects, it also includes recommendations from the respondents themselves as well as from ERGO Network.

This survey was possible thanks the valuable contributions from ERGO members and partners. We would like to thank in particular Roma Active Albania in Albania, Otaharin in Bosnia and Herzegovina, expert Orhan Tahir in Belgium, Integro in Bulgaria, Slovo 21 and Life Together in Czechia, Amrita OBK association in Hungary, Pavee Point in Ireland, Voice of Roma Ashkali and Egyptians in Kosovo, RROMA in North Macedonia, Nevo Parudimos in Romania, Roma Forum in Serbia, Roma Advocacy and Research Centre in Slovakia and Zero Discrimination association in Turkey as well as Roma and Traveller communities in all the respective countries.

We especially thank the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) whose survey on the Covid impact (1) on Roma in Spain was used as inspiration for our ERGO survey.

For more information about ERGO Network’s work on anti racism contact Isabela Mihalache , Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.

 

ERGO Network carried out this work in the framework of the project “Roma Included in Social Europe”, funded by the EaSI Programme (all parts concerning EU Member States) and in the framework of the project “Romani Women Power of Change “ (all parts concerning Western Balkans and Turkey) carried out as a partner of Roma Active Albania and funded by the European Union.

This publication has received funding from the European Union. The information contained in this publication reflects only the authors’ view, and its contents not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

This publication has received financial
support from the Foreign Office of the
Federal Republic of Germany.

 

(1) https://www.gitanos.org/actualidad/archivo/131067.html.en

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.

Support Note on Engaging with the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) 2021

Support Note on Engaging with the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) 2021

The Recovery and Resilience Facility combines grants and loans totaling EUR 672.5 billion, which Member States will be able to access by submitting National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs), together with their National Reform Programmes (between now and 30 April).
The National Recovery and Resilience Plans are the main reference documents of the European Semester this year, and they will have to outline national investment and reform agendas for the pandemic and post-pandemic context. The Plans should enable Member States to enhance their
economic growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience, and to meet the green and digital transitions.

Download the support note here

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/

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