by ERIO on September 29th, 2016

On the 29 September, ERIO attended a meeting organised by the Belgian National Roma Platform, which was launched in May 2016. The topic of the meeting was Roma’s access to healthcare. The aim of the meeting was to formulate recommendations for policy makers and which can provide some input for the evaluation of the National Roma Integration Strategy.

During the meeting, ERIO stressed the need to ensure the participation of Roma in the full process related to the national strategies and any policy relevant for Roma which is currently non-existent in the Belgian context. Since the aim of the Belgian National Roma Platform is to trigger the dialogue with all stakeholders and Roma communities in Belgium, this is a requirement that needs to be improved and respected. Small interactive group discussions between participants took place to discuss what is currently working and missing in Belgium in terms of Roma’s access to healthcare and what can be done to improve the situation.

Other thematic meetings focusing on education, housing and employment will take place until the end of the year.

To find out more about the Belgian National Roma Platform, visit their website here.

by John Trajer, ERIO on September 20th, 2016

The European Parliament (EP) has published a study “Obstacles to the right of free movement and residence for EU citizens and their families: Comparative analysis” assessing compliance with selected provisions of Directive 2004/38/EC (pertaining to the right of free movement and residence for EU citizens and their families) in nine EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK).

This document, commissioned by the EP’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs (at the request of the LIBE and PETI Committees), synthesises nine in-depth studies conducted by national experts in each of the selected Member States. It covers both the transposition and practical implementation of selected provisions of the Free Movement Directive, building on the 2008 European Commission report and the 2009 Study commissioned by the European Parliament. It also offers a number of recommendations for the European Parliament, the European Commission, and EU Member States.

The stated aim of the study is to identify “the main persisting barriers to free movement” for EU citizens and their family members. Its key findings state that Article 14 (on the retention of the right to residence) and Article 27 (on restrictions to entry and residence on grounds of public policy, security and health) are the most problematic provisions of the Directive in the nine Member States.

Under “legal or practical instances of discrimination” in accessing the rights guaranteed by the Directive, the Roma are identified as a “particularly vulnerable” ethnic group in some Member States. Discrimination is reported in access to employment, education, financial services, housing and social protection. Roma have also been prevented from registering in other Member States, or from living in caravans, and this has resulted in evictions, expulsions and deportations.

The study provides numerous examples of Roma discrimination in these areas across the sample of national studies. It also highlights how these discriminatory obstacles directly contravene a number of provisions of EU legislation, namely Article 24 of the Directive (pertaining to equal treatment of non-nationals), Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (pertaining to non-discrimination), and Article 10 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union.

You can read the full report here.

by ERIO on September 16th, 2016

Social entrepreneurship is explicitly mentioned in the Commission’s 2016 assessment report as a means of improving Roma participation in the labour market.

The Commission reports that, despite a number of initiatives in various EU Member States, “Roma participation in the labour market remains very weak.” They are, in fact, Europe’s most under-represented group in the labour market. This is attributed to a lack of measures that explicitly target Roma. The report explains that Member States have given priority to “mainstream measures” for the unemployed, as well as activation/public work and measures for people with a migrant background. There have also been a number of initiatives supporting on-the-job training and skills development for the unemployed. None of these, however, have had a “significant impact on Roma.”

The various measures adopted by EU Member States have in general been insufficient in countering the “[l]ow levels of education and skills and widespread discrimination” that explain the under-representation of Roma in the labour market.

The Commission reports that “[i]t is evident that all-encompassing, tailored approaches are needed.” Such “innovative measures” include, among other things, an emphasis on promoting social enterprises and Roma entrepreneurship as an alternative to Roma employment. As well as providing job creation opportunities, social entrepreneurship is also understood to often be a means of preserving Roma culture and fighting stereotypes. Such measures are to be supported under the European Social Fund.

All this makes projects such as SERCo relevant and needed. The partnership of the SERCo project aims to promote social economy as an effective instrument for the development of the Roma communities. You can find out more about the project here: www.serco-project.eu.

by John Trajer, ERIO on September 14th, 2016

The EU Commission’s report emphasises a need for “more focus on Roma youth” in measures promoting Roma participation, stating that “[t]he situation of Roma children remains particularly worrying” with regards to exclusion.

To promote the “active citizenship” of Roma it points to a number of cultural projects, including its own transnational awareness-raising campaign entitled ‘for Roma with Roma’. This aims at fighting anti-Roma stereotypes through working with media, promoting cultural understanding, and supporting twinning projects between local authorities. It also contains elements related more specifically to youth education and the arts that are directly relatable to the META project, such as the organisation of school drawing competitions. 

Under examples of approaches relating to Roma inclusion strategies in the various EU Member States, the report identifies ‘culture’ as an “additional area not covered under the EU Framework or the Recommendation”. Under this title the report enumerates a number of initiatives aimed at the inclusion of young Roma through artistic projects.

One such initiative is the Museum of Roma Culture in Bucharest, Romania. This is funded privately by Ciprien Necule, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Culture, according to whom a number of “craft classes” and “children’s programmes” will be organised at the museum.[1] [although this museum was severely damaged in a fire in December 2015]

Another project detailed in the report is a “targeted photo project” organised by the civil society organisation ‘MTÜ Ambulartoorium’ in Estonia, 2015. So as to fight discrimination and increase public understanding of young Roma, Roma children and youths were given cameras and took pictures of what they considered important or interesting, and wrote a story to accompany these photos. This project, organised by photographer Annika Haas (responsible for the travelling “We, the Roma” documentary photo exhibition), will be showcased online later in 2016. More details can be found at http://romachildren.ee/en/projektist/.

[1] http://www.roconsulboston.com/Pages/InfoPages/Culture/RomaMuseum.html


by ERIO on September 9th, 2016

On the 2nd of September, ERIO took part in a public hearing titled “Roma women’s participation in public life”, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Participants included members of the European Parliament, representatives of the Council of Europe, European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, and other key civil society organisations were present at the event.
 
The hearing highlighted the need to develop ideas on how to improve the participation of Roma women in public life as this being considered to be the key element that could lead to their inclusion in society.
 
ERIO’s senior policy officer, Marta Pinto, stressed the need to empower Roma women and ensure their full active participation in society. “Roma women’s participation in the social, cultural and political fields is part of democracy and essential for the successful inclusion of Roma communities and for achieving an equal society.”, she said. Roma women “encounter more serious obstacles than Roma men and non-Roma women due to the everyday multiple discrimination they face, fuelled by widespread stereotypes and anti-Gypsyism which affect the possibilities for their participation in society.”, she added. She then presented the main factors that causes Roma women`s exclusion from public life such as gender and racial discrimination; high level of poverty; segregated settlements; low levels of education, high unemployment rates, human rights violation, non-compliance of EU anti-discrimination legislation, inadequate investment in measures targeting Roma women, and lack of demographic data disaggregated by gender and ethnicity.
 
During the hearing, our KeyRoma project was presented as a positive practice. Daniela Novac, one of the participants in the project training organised by ERIO explained how the project helped Roma women to develop skills to participate in society.

You can read the full presentation here.



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