Invest in Civil Society Capacity Building
EU institutions recognize that active participation of Roma civil society in policy design, implementation and evaluation is a key success factor. The crucial role of the full involvement of Roma has been confirmed in many studies. However, low levels of organization and a lack of capacity hamper Roma communities in taking up their full role and articulate an independent voice on the policies that are targeted towards them.
This negatively affects a systematic inclusion of Roma communities as recognised stakeholders, which is a structural factor that negatively affects the success of Roma inclusion policies. Consequently, long-term capacity building has to be central element of any strategic EU approach to Roma inclusion. From this perspective, it is justified that the EU invests in the Civil Society ability to play a watchdog role and contribute to critical evaluation and monitoring of policies. This line of thinking was already included in the Commission Staff Working Paper of July 2008 and should now be taken forward.
ERGO therefore suggests the European Commission prepares a proposal for a targeted line of funding focusing on Roma NGOs. Even a limited budget appropriation to support up to 15 national or European NGOs with operating grants –which is crucial for their survival– would go a long way to secure their crucial monitoring function, in particular at the local level