About the project (East-West cooperation on cities for Roma inclusion):
The East-West Cooperation on Cities for Roma Inclusion project aims to improve living conditions for European Roma by increasing the level of awareness on Roma local challenges and build capacity of local authorities to better address these needs.
The project, funded by the Open Society Foundations and Bernard van Leer Foundation with support from the European Commission, addresses the need to exchange know-how, expertise and good practices between local authorities at transnational level on how to best implement concrete local actions to promote social inclusion of Roma. The project has identified gaps in service design and delivery and implementation of local Roma integration strategy and has contributed to bridging these gaps, as well as helped identify synergies and entry points for future cooperation. The final goal is to design workable and beneficial programmes for Roma inclusion that will be eligible for further funding by the European Union and other funds.
The project has identified needs of cities and two main areas where programmes can be developed, namely access to employment, early childhood development and education. The pilot projects that will be presented in the event identify specific strategies to address these needs. The project is built on the basis of a bottom-up approach.
City partners: Belfast (UK), Ghent (BE), Glasgow (UK), Gothenburg (SWE), Grenoble (FR), Munich (DE), Oslo (NO), Turin (IT), Mihalvoce (SLO), Arad, Alba Iulia, Buzau, Resita, Satu Mare (RO), Kotel, Razgrad, Sevlievo, Vetovo, Omurtag Pazardzhik (BU)
The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (EU Framework for Roma Inclusion):
§ Each member state has also set up national contact points for Roma inclusion to help the Commission in its annual monitoring of the member states’ efforts and progress towards their National Roma Integration Strategies.
§ Two assessment reports have been published so far by the European Commission. One, in 2012, assessed the strategies presented by member states and offered individual recommendations and an analysis of trends.
§ This year, the Commission published its second assessment, this time looking at whether the pre-conditions for implementing these strategies had been met by member states.
§ This report launched in June was accompanied by a legislative proposal for a Recommendation which proposes to Member State to take measures, including involving local authorities in implementation, to improve the situation of Roma in Europe. This ‘soft law’ instrument is expected to be adopted by the Employment, Social policy, Health and consumer affairs (EPSCO) council on 9 December – by unanimity vote.
§ The next assessment report will be published by the European Commission in Spring 2014. This will look at implementation of the strategies and progress made in 4 pillars: education, employment, health and housing.
§ An EU Roma Summit will take place on 4 April 2014
§ The Common Strategic Framework proposed by the Commission for the use of EU Funds highlights the need to employ multidimensional approaches to integrate marginalised communities such as Roma, and includes among key actions for the European Social Fund under this priority
§ The European Commission’s legislative proposal also includes a recommendation that member states allocate sufficient funding to national and local strategies and action plans for Roma inclusion. This can be done especially through the European Social Fund and earmarked 20% for social inclusion.
§ The Common Provisions for Cohesion Policy 2014-2020, ex ante conditionality ‘Promoting social inclusion and combatting poverty’ requires national governments to provide support to relevant stakeholder for submitting project applications and for implementing projects in connection with the National Roma Integration Strategies.
§ Roma inclusion is an issue which is intrinsically linked to free movement of EU citizens, although it is more specific than the current debate on EU mobility
§ While there is a very active European debate on effects and ramification of EU mobility, the specific conditions and vulnerability of Roma warrant an explicit approach which includes addressing aspects of vulnerability discrimination and fighting prejudices.
§ As a response to some EU member states’ concerns the implementation of free movement on the ground, the European Commission issued in November a policy paper which sets out five actions among which are the use of EU funds and also the promotion of exchange of best practices among local authorities. One of the proposed actions that is foreseen is organising of an event on 11 February with the Commission and mayors to discuss challenges and best practices and present findings from a study in this area.
EUROCITIES is the network of major European cities. Founded in 1986, the network brings together the local governments of over 130 large cities in some 35 European countries. EUROCITIES represents the interests of its members and engages in dialogue with the European institutions across a wide range of policy areas affecting cities. These include: economic development, the environment, transport and mobility, social affairs, culture, the information and knowledge society, and services of general interest. www.eurocities.eu
EUROCITIES’ work on Roma Inclusion:
§ Established in 2011, the task force on Roma inclusion brings together 25 cities under the chair of Ghent, to improve the design and implementation of Roma inclusion policies and services through peer learning and the exchange of good practice.
§ The Task force is keen to raise awareness among EU institutions of the city perspective on EU mobility and Roma inclusion
§ The Task force also provides evidence to the EU framework and advocates for EU efforts and funds to more closely match the needs on the ground
About OSF’s MERI initiative:
Started by the OSF’s Program Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma (MtM) in 2012, the MERI initiative brings together local government representatives and partnering nongovernmental organizations from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia in an open platform for equality and social inclusion policies. The network is an opportunity for municipalities to learn from each other’s experiences how to increase the use of EU funding for Roma inclusion and how to integrate Roma needs into EU-funded municipal programs. MERI provides municipal stakeholders with analytical, research and informational service for inclusive local policies and for equal access of Roma to service delivery. In-country and cross-country peer-to-peer exchange and cooperation with other European networks builds a learning community of local decision-makers and administrators and helps them multiply the best examples of inclusion policies.