ERGO Network welcomes the conclusions of the annual EC communication on Roma Integration and calls for a targeted funding strand for watch-dog Roma NGOs

25 June 2015

 

Open Letter

To: 

Frans Timmermans, Vice-President for Better Regulation, Interinstitutional Relations, the Rule of Law and the Charter of Fundamental

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility

Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality

Concerning: ERGO Network welcomes the conclusions of the annual EC communication on Roma Integration and calls for a targeted funding strand for watch-dog Roma NGOs

Your Excellencies, dear Vice President and Commissioners,

We, the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, welcome the conclusions of the annual EC communication presented in the press-release by Vice President Frans Timmermans, Commissioners Marianne Thyssen and V?ra Jourová.

ERGO Network thanks the Vice President and Commissioners to acknowledge the need to fight Anti-Gypsyism by saying that “It is time we step up our efforts to fight anti-Gypsyism, and promote the full inclusion of Roma" and that “Member States have to fight discrimination of Roma more actively and focus on elimination of hate crime and harmful stereotypes".

We support the call upon Member States to demonstrate greater political will and a long-term vision to combat discrimination of Roma people considering: the worrying rise of anti-Gypsyism, hate speech and hate crime. Also we appreciate the acknowledgment of the need for more cooperation with civil society and local authorities and the importance of the involvement of all relevant actors.

However, in order to achieve the set goals and improvements, there is a need to invest in the capacities of Roma civil society organisations to play an active and independent role to voice the interest of Roma and keep governments accountable at local, national and European level. Such watch-dog NGOs are paramount for the EU Roma Framework Strategy to be properly implemented and fulfil its aims. Roma civil society should equipped to engage in evidence based research and policy dialogue in order to genuinely take part in coordination and consultation, like the national platforms. Therefore ERGO Network calls the European Commission to have a targeted funding strand, managed at European level, to support independent Roma watch-dog and grassroots organisations (see annex). 

We remain at your disposal for any support that we can give you in achieving your goals.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely yours,

Ruus Dijksterhuis,

Director ERGO Network

Annex

Targeted European Funding for Roma and Roma initiatives

European Funds have failed to produce a significant difference in the life of the Roma communities and have even proven toxic to some Roma NGOs. The fast disappearance of credible watch-dog Roma organisations is one such example. These watch-dog NGOs are paramount for the EU Roma Framework Strategy to be properly implemented and fulfil its aims. Therefore we ask to:

a.      Launch targeted lines of funding within the 2014-2020 programming period, managed by the EC that aims to support independent Roma watch-dog organisations able to keep their governments accountable.

b.      Create progressive funding schemes that allow the testing of innovative, experimental approaches addressing equal citizenship, social inclusion and the fight against discrimination, coupled with strong learning and evaluation mechanism in order to develop effective approaches.

c.       Include support measures against the concerning and widespread racism, violence and harassment that Roma face, such as public awareness campaigns, online activism and debate, monitoring of anti-Gypsyism in media, prepare public responses to hate speech incidents, developing tools and capacity for addressing racism.

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