In the past 20 years, Roma communities across Europe have seen very few improvements to their living situation, even though many public and private, international and national funding programs were aimed at Roma inclusion and empowerment. One of the reasons for the lack of success of such funding programs is the application of a top-down approach that does not consider the realities and voices of Roma at the grassroots level and comes with a heavy administrative burden.Read More
Various assessments of the last EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies up to 2020 acknowledged that Roma communities needed to be involved in project design, implementation, and evaluation to bring about change. This now needs to be translated into better funding programs and regulations for public and private donors, including using more national resources for smaller projects, prioritization of bottom-up approaches, and mainstreaming in the bigger EU initiatives such as the EU Green Deal.
The EU Roma Strategic Framework and the Council Recommendation encourage the Member States, in particular those with greater challenges and those with a significant Roma population, to make full use of the funding available under the 2021-2027 multi-annual financial framework (MFF) and NextGeneration EU for Roma people. To enable this, the 2021-2027 regulations have been strengthened and streamlined, for example through the ESF+ specific objective to promote the socio-economic integration of marginalised communities, such as Roma, and complementary ERDF investments in this area, and the introduction of the corresponding thematic enabling condition in the Common Provisions Regulation for cohesion policy funds, requiring Member States that earmark funds for this targeted objective to have a national Roma inclusion strategic policy framework in place. This includes strong requirements related to monitoring, measures against segregation, mainstreaming of Roma inclusion at regional and local level, and close cooperation with the Roma civil society and other relevant stakeholders. Moreover, under the ESF+, all Member States must comply with a 25% thematic concentration requirement focused on social inclusion, of which Roma are a key target group.
In the negotiations for the 2021-2027 partnership agreements and ERDF and ESF+ programmes, the Commission emphasised that country-specific challenges related to Roma should be properly reflected and addressed in the forthcoming programmes, and that measures promoting Roma inclusion and access to mainstream non-segregated infrastructure and services should be implemented.
According to the Commission’s assessment and the National Roma Strategic Frameworks (NRSFs), many Member States have mentioned in these Frameworks, as sources of funding, a combination of national and EU funding, mostly under the EU cohesion policy, as well as funding from other international donors. Although national funds, ESF+, ERDF or the Just Transition Fund, are mentioned in several NRSFs as sources of funding for the implementation of proposed measures, they refer to mainstream initiatives and lack details of budgetary allocations for Roma. Most NRSFs plan the use of EU funding programmes, however they only exceptionally provide details in terms of funding allocation. In the framework of trhe European Semester, Member States have dedicated around 28% of their Recovery and Resiliency Facility (RRF) funds to supporting social objectives spread across four categories: employment and skills, education and childcare, health and long-term care, and social policies.
This lack of specific budget planning for Roma is an enormous missed opportunity, as there are great examples of targeted use of funding leading to great success. The sectoral objectives of education, employment, health, and housing are interconnected, so action in one may lead to spillover effects in the other. One example of this is the encouragement of entrepeneurship among Roma. Projects encouraging entrepeneurship or emplyoment access among Roma do not only provide a vehicle out of poverty, but may also improve access to healthcare, education and housing. At the same time these benefits can also lead to improvements in the community and so help close the gap between Roma and non-Roma. One example of spillover is that steady employment may bring health insurance benefits which facilitate access to care or medicines for Roma. Improvements are possible, as long as the Roma inclusion strategy makes clear mention of how and where funds will be used. If Member States and Accession Countries are aware of this, more specific use of funding in and with the community can lead to tangible improvements. This could prove to be a great impulse for true Roma equality.
Specific objectives of the Roundatble
The event aims to facilitate discussions on the challenges in ensuring adequate and effective regional, national, and local funds for Roma, as well as on the importance of monitoring data on funding and its effective implementation towards achieving equality, inclusion, and participation of Roma. As such, the event will share the results of the best practices and what really works for Roma from the project “New solutions to old problems – exchange of new types of approaches in the field of Roma integration” funded by EEA and Norway Grants and implemented by the Nevo Parudimos association, together with the European Roma Grassroots Organizations (ERGO) Network and a consortium of 10 NGOs in 11 countries in the EU and outside of the EU.
The event also aims to look at the challenges and opportunities to scale-up the use of EU funds for Roma during the 2021-2027 programming period, and to promote the enhancement of Roma entrepreneurship and access to employment at the local level, highlighting the benefits of this on health outcomes and healthcare access, among other similar spillover effects.
Watch the event online here
Agenda of the event:
14:30 Registration and refreshments
Moderation: Gabriela Hrabaňová, Director, ERGO Network
15:00 Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Member of the European Parliament, RENEW, Slovakia
15:05 Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency
15:10 Ingrid Schulerud, Special Representative on Democracy and Rule of Law, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
15:15 I PANEL: What works for Roma equality, inclusion, and participation? The experience of the EEA/Norway Grants project: “New solutions to old problems”
Moderation: Daniel Grebeldinger, Nevo Parudimos, Romania
15:15 Daniel Grebeldinger, Nevo Parudimos (Romania) – Main findings of the project New solutions to old problems. Funding of bottom-up approaches: ways forward to support Roma inclusion
15:35 Video – Best practices from local projects “New solutions to old problems”
15:45 Tuba Akin, Zero Discrimination Association (Turkey)– Perspectives on funding and implementation in Balkan countries
15:50 Sheena Keller,EEA and Norway Grants – The need for grassroots measures in designing Roma funding programs and capacity building for Roma inclusion.
15:50 -16:00 Questions & Answers
16:00 II PANEL: Maximizing the use of funding for Roma equality, inclusion, and participation
Moderation: Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of Unit, Non-Discrimination and Roma Coordination Unit, Directorate General for Justice and Consumers
16:05 Jeroen Jutte, Head of Unit, ESF, and FEAD: policy and legislation EMPL
16:15 Johannes Boermann, Programme Manager, Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme: DG JUST
16:25 Hristina Petkova, Equality Coordinator, Strategy, and Investments – strategy, governance, equality, and inclusion, DG EAC
16:35 Questions and Answers
16: 50 Comfort break
17:00 III PANEL: Insights into the importance of funding and a bottom-up approach to support Roma communities and promote broader social and economic development.
Moderation: Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Member of the European Parliament, RENEW, Slovakia
17:00 Petrică Dulgheru, Executive Director, Roma entrepreneurship development initiative – REDI Network, and Bogdan Merfea, Executive Director REDI Fund, on how EU Funds are used in Roma communities and by Roma entrepreneurs.
17:15 Tomas de Jong, on behalf of the Roma Health Network under the European Public Health Alliance – on the health benefits of improved employment among Roma, examples of the North Macedonian Operational Plan for Employment
17:25 Marta García Fidalgo, Adviser Roma Policy, Western Balkans, DG NEAR
17:35 Darko Rudaš and Andreja Zevnik – How the inclusion of Roma as equal partners can change the future of Roma settlements in Slovenia?
17:45 Mgr. Táňa Grauzelová from Zdrave Regiony – Healthy Communities – Best practice in Slovakia
17:55 Closing remarks
Milan Brglez, Member of the European Parliament, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Slovenia
18:00 End of the event