ERGO Network Annual Policy Conference 2022

IMPLEMENTING THE EU ROMA STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK. ROMA ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM CARE

This past 23 November, ERGO Network organised its Annual Policy Conference, for the first time in person since 2019 but also fully streamed online for remote participants. This year’s event was dedicated to exploring how to improve Roma access to adequate, affordable, and inclusive healthcare and long-term care services, as well as to taking stock of the implementation of the EU and National Roma Frameworks.

A significant health inequality gap exists between the Roma and the majority population, across every area of physical and mental health and wellbeing, including rates of suicide, disability, life expectancy, and infant mortality. The Covid-19 pandemic laid bare and worsened a pre-existing dire situation. Ensuring access to healthcare and long-term care is a key topic under the European Pillar of Social Rights, the compass for Europe’s recovery, while it is also supported by Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It is high time the European Union and national governments delivered.

First panel – Susanna Ulinski, Philippe Seidel, Marine Uldry, Kumar Vishwanathan, Tomas de Jong, Camille Butin

The first part of the event served to launch ERGO Network’s research report on “Roma access to healthcare and long-term care”, based on six national case studies carried out in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain. The main findings and recommendations fed into a dialogue with key decision-makers and stakeholders, aimed at identifying positive solutions to support better health inclusion for Roma and inform the delivery on the EU Roma Strategic Framework and the Social Pillar, as well as on initiatives such as the European Care Strategy.

The Key Messages of the report are:

  1. In all 6 countries, social determinants greatly influence a poor Roma state of health.
  2. High costs of healthcare and long-term care and gaps in health insurance coverage are significant deterrents for the Roma to seek care.
  3. Limited healthcare and long-term care infrastructure and staff shortages are prevalent in rural and remote Roma communities.
  4. Roma health mediators play a key positive role which deserves better support.
  5. The Roma continue to face widespread antigypsyism in healthcare and long-term care.
  6. Roma communities and their civil society organisations must be involved in a bid to build trust and improve take-up.

With the adoption of the EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, governments were asked to develop national Roma strategic frameworks both in EU Member States and Western Balkan countries. In addition, civil society in EU Member States received funding from the European Commission to engage in monitoring the elaboration and adoption process of these national frameworks. In order to ensure their effective implementation, a robust and continued monitoring of the entire policy process should be ensured.

Second panel – Zuzana Havirova, Sia Sararu, Adriatik Hasantari, Abriel Schieffelers

The second part of the event assessed the state of play of the newly adopted national Roma strategic frameworks in both the EU and enlargement countries and their alignment with the EU Roma Strategic Framework on Equality, Inclusion, and Participation and linked Council Recommendation, as well as of the Roma involvement in the drafting process. In addition, it discussed the follow-up steps in the implementation of the national Roma stratetic frameworks at EU and national levels.

The event ended with concluding remarks from the Czech Presidency of the European Union on the importance of dedicating more policy attention to access to healthcare, particularly for vulnerable groups such as the Roma, which should be seen in conjunction with the overall delivery on the EU Roma Framework and its objectives on housing, employment, education, and poverty, while closely associating Roma communities and their representatives to these efforts.

The conference was very well attended with over 70 on site and online participants, and it brought together ERGO Network national members from the grassroots level in many European countries, as well as other national practitioners, European civil society organisations, policy-makers from the EU and national levels, and other stakeholders.

If you attended this event, or watched the recording, don’t forget to let us know what you thought about it by filling in this brief Evaluation Form (project reference: 101051359; event title: ERGO Network Annual Policy Conference). Thank you!

See more:

Graphic facilitation provided by Ale Listens and Draws.

For more information about this event, please don’t hesitate to contact us: info@ergonetwork.org

Visit of Ukrainian Roma Delegation to ERGO Network

Visit of Ukrainian Roma Delegation to ERGO Network

On 12-13 October 2022 ERGO Networked welcomed a delegation from our Ukrainian member organisation Roma Women Fund Chiricli and Roma mediators with the purpose to present the current situation of the Roma IDPs and refugees (access to housing, education, the particular situation of the Roma women, cases of discrimination, to gather feedback on possible solutions and partnerships to address the issues and propose immediate anti-discrimination measures for ensuring Roma equality during the current refugee crisis.

The delegation consisted of Director of Chiricli Yulia Kondur (currently working from France), organisation representative Viola Popenko (currently working from the United Kingdom) and mediators Mikhailo Biliavskyi and Marina Bublyk (now based and working with Ukrainian Roma refugees in Germany).

On the first day of their visit, our Ukrainian colleagues met with Members of the European Parliament Peter Pollak, Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Romeo Franz, Dietmar Kostner and the assistant of MEP Sergey Lagodinsky to present the research they have carried out during the summer, involving over 1000 Ukrainian Roma mediators working with IDPs and refugees on the ground.

Roma Women Fund Chiricli together with the mediators provided comprehensive data on the situation of the Roma in different regions, in order to find common points for cooperation.

On the second day the organisation spent time with ERGO Network to strategise on our future cooperation, as well as continuing with their meetings of the EU officials: this time meeting Marta Garcia Fidalgo, the Advisor on Roma Policy in the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) of the European Commission..

Roma Women Fund Chiricli is the largest Roma-led organisation in Ukraine, involved in a wide variety of projects, among them on policy-making. Together with ERGO Network, Chiricli worked on the most recent Roma strategy for the Ukrainian Government.

Since the beginning of the war, we have been working closely together, assisting this organisation in their work on the ground with among other initiatives fundraising for the Ukrainian Roma refugees and also running the “Hot Meals for Ukraine” project (provision of hot meals in war-affected regions for all vulnerable groups who need those, including non-Roma). ERGO Network has also liaised with several donors for funding assistance for Roma IDPs in all areas of Ukraine and the provision of a special centre for the IDPs in Western Ukraine specifically.

New Board of ERGO Network

We are thrilled to introduce you to the new Board of ERGO Network!

ERGO Network is currently in a big transformative process: We have established a new legal entity, the ERGO Network AISBL, finally moving our legal seat from the Netherlands to Belgium and becoming more democratic. While the “old” ERGO Network will continue to exist until all contracts are moved, the “new” ERGO is already up and running and has just elected a new Board!

The Board consists of six members. Our membership has shown them their trust and support, and all of us – including the ERGO Secretariat – are looking forward to working together – making our Network stronger, wider and more powerful to achieve our common goals.

Our new Board members are:

Soraya Post, Sweden (Chair)

Soraya Post is one of ERGO Network’s founding members. For the past four years, she has been sharing the lead in the “old” ERGO Board, serving as inspiration and motivation for young Roma activists to take a stand for the Roma cause. Soraya has dedicated her entire professional career as a Romani activist as well as a member of the European Parliament to the Roma. Soraya would like to give her support and commitment to the causes that ERGO Network represents. She is particularly keen to take the fight against antigypsyism further based on her knowledge of the European institutions and the European Parliament in particular.

Zuzana Havírová from the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC), Slovakia (Vice-Chair)

Zuzana Havirová is the chair of the Roma Advocacy and Research Centre (RARC) in Slovakia. She is also vice-chair of the Committee for the Prevention of Racism, Anti-Semitism, Xenophobia and Other Forms of Intolerance, which belongs to the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic and a member of the Slovak Government Council for Human Rights. Last year Zuzana was also elected by several Roma NGOs to serve as a member of the Slovak Government Council for National Minorities.

Zuzana believes that ERGO Network will play an important role in working with governments and international institutions to ensure Roma are part of the change. She is convinced that it is necessary to strengthen the fight for the rights and participation of the Roma at the international level as well.

Annabel Carballo Mesa from Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña (FAGiC), Spain

Annabel Carballo Mesa is the Director of the European and International Area in the Federació Assoc Gitanes Fagic in Spain. Her main goals for the ERGO Network Board are to bring a new and fresh perspective to continue the great work done previously, and to make sure that strategic plans and annual operation plans are developed and implemented according to ERGO Network’s mission and vision.

Annabel’s main motivation is to widen the geographic scope of the Board including the perspective from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). She is sure that this will bring more diversity to the work of ERGO Network and make different voices be heard.

Martin Mata, Czech Republic (Treasurer)

Martin is one of the founding members of ERGO Network and has been serving on the ERGO Network Board for the last four years as treasurer. Away from ERGO Network he is a businessperson, a local politician and leader of important regional institutions. As a part of the Board he will continue to share his knowledge on programmes and spending. He is particularly interested in identifying correlations between organizational development and trends in the society, which is even more relevant in times of crisis.

Mustafa Jakupov from Регионална Ромска Образовна Младинска Асоцијација – RROMA, North Macedonia

Mustafa has 15 years of experience – most of which he was working with ERGO Network and its members on various projects and working groups. For the last several years and until August 2022, Mustafa had an even closer connection to ERGO working as Policy and Project Coordinator in charge of the areas of antigypsyism, non-formal education, Roma youth empowerment, participation, mobility and volunteering.

He has information and knowledge on the variety of the membership, as well as broader policy trends and occurrences related to Roma issues across Europe.

Daniel Grebeldinger from Nevo Parudimos, Romania

Daniel has more than 10 years of experience as Board member of different EU networks, as well as 18 years of running, setting up and developing Roma and non-Roma NGOs.

His vision for ERGO Network in 5 years is being the strongest Roma network in Europe, contributing directly to the development of its members, bringing the grassroots voice of the Roma from all around Europe to the decision makers at EU level. He sees ERGO Network as being one of the main actors in training and capacitating Roma professionals, young people and adults who will be the future Roma civil society in Europe.

Daniel believes that if until now the Board was more a decision-making structure, the future Board of ERGO Network will be a more active body, more dynamic and more involved in the evolution and future development of the Network. He sees himself as an active part of the fundraising team of ERGO Network, a promoter of the network and a recruiter of new members.

Once again, congratulations to all newly elected Board members and we are looking forward to working together!

 

ERGO Network’s Annual Members’ Meeting / General Assembly 2022

ERGO Network’s Annual Members’ Meeting / General Assembly 2022

After two years of meeting online, from 13-15 June 2022 ERGO Network’s members finally came together live in Brussels to share updates from the past year, set future priorities, and learn from each other. As ERGO Network is moving from a foundation (Stichting) registered in the Netherlands to a member-governed organisation (AISBL) based in Belgium, this Annual Members’ Meeting was also the first General Assembly of the “new ERGO”.

The first day started with welcoming the members to Brussels by ERGO Network Co-Chair Stanislav Daniel and ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová. It was followed by an exchange of expectations for the meeting between the members, who highlighted fears such as conflicts, lack of (or too much) discussion and even contracting Covid-19 during the meeting. But the identified opportunities and hopes – such as to be heard, to come back home motivated, excitement about the “new” ERGO and its board together with many others – outweighed these fears.

This ice-breaker session was followed by a presentation of the “new ERGO” working structure: a general overview of the Statutes of the new ERGO Network aisbl, the membership (a discussion during which the active members of the “old” ERGO Network officially also became members of the new ERGO Network aisbl), the establishment of the General Assembly and approval of the agenda. The new statutes are also introducing the new type of membership – besides the full members, we also welcomed associated members and friends of ERGO.“We also discussed the roles of the new ERGO Board, the General Assembly, the Secretariat, voting procedures, and elections.

In the afternoon, the members split into groups to discuss ERGO Network policy work updates:

• EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, Roma Civil Monitoring and the work of the Anti-Racism Coalition with Isabela Mihalache
• Capacity building of Roma civil society by the director Gabriela Hrabaňová
• Combatting Roma poverty and social exclusion with Amana Ferro and Carmen Tănasie
• Raising awareness of antigypsyism online and offline with Mustafa Jakupov
• Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey with Adriatik Hasantari


This session was followed by a plenary discussion on updates on the situation in Ukraine and support from ERGO Network members. The exchange was kicked-off by our Ukrainian member organization Roma Women Fund Chiricli and followed by inputs from members from Romania, Hungary, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The discussions continued late into the evening during our dinner outside, where the members also had a chance to join an informal conversation about an initiative exploring any potential misuse of EU funds for Roma integration.

The second day started with a deeper look at the statutory items of the new ERGO: the statutory role of the General Assembly and voting procedures, and the Internal Governance Handbook. Then the candidates for the Board were presented and the most awaited part of the meeting – the elections – took place. To find out who became the new Board of ERGO Network stay tuned for the update in the coming days!

Our treasurer Martin Mata presented an overview of the financial situation from 2017 to 2022. He stated that ERGO Network was in very good financial health, with sufficient reserves, and recommended continuing on the same path. The session on finances was complete with the presentation of ERGO’s main funding sources and finally the discussion and vote on the membership fee.

After all the excitement of the elections, an in-depth discussion on strengthening the membership followed. In the format of the World Café, we asked our members: What does membership mean for you? What works in ERGO’s membership? What does not work? What are the opportunities to make the membership stronger?

Some of the key takeaways from this session were: to be more aware of members’ capacities, to channel communication, to increase the transparency within the network, and to continue sharing knowledge and expertise among members.

This day and the General Assembly 2022 closed with a policy round table on Building intersectional synergies to guarantee Roma equality, inclusion, and participation, which facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism and its various manifestations inside and outside the European Union.

The speakers in this event came from the Social Platform, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Eurodiaconia, the European Commission’s DG Justice and Consumers, as well as from ERGO Network’s French member La Voix des Rroms. The presentations were followed by a debate with the audience.

The round table looked at intersections with mainstream anti-racist policy frameworks, and where synergies or opportunities for joint advocacy and cooperation arise that can help strengthen the work of addressing Roma issues further in a holistic way. It provided an opportunity to examine the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and of promoting a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism, not only at the national but also at the European level.

The round table received the financial support of the European Union and the International Visegrád Fund.

We thank our members for coming to Brussels for this meeting!

Romani Week 2022

Looking back at the Romani Week 2022

After last year’s online edition of the Romani Week, the Romani Week 2022 brought together Members of the European Parliament, officials of EU institutions and International Organisations, national and international civil society organisations as well as young Roma activists for a series of live events in the European Parliament in Brussels.

The Romani Week built on the work done during previous Romani Weeks and debated EU policies for Romani inclusion. It also called upon the European Commission and the EU Member States to put the fight against antigypsyism at the forefront of efforts for the social and economic inclusion of the Romani people.

ERGO Network was once again a proud co-organizer and partner of this edition of the Romani Week, under the patronage of the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as MEP hosts: Romeo FRANZ, Peter POLLÁK, Anna Júlia DONÁTH, Terry REINTKE, Cornelia ERNST, Klára DOBREV, Sergey LAGODINSKY, Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, Rasmus ANDRESEN, Lucia ĎURIŠ NICHOLSONOVÁ, Monika VANA, Thomas WAITZ and Carmen AVRAM.

ERGO Network’s participation started on the first day, coinciding symbolically with the Romani Resistance Day on 16 May. During the event on “Promoting positive narratives and raising awareness about the Romani language”, ERGO Network Director Jamen Gabriela Hrabaňová underlined that the brave act of Romani prisoners resisting their oppressors in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp is an inspiration for many contemporary Roma, who have to still resist racism and discrimination in their daily lives.

“The Decade to counter antigypsyism as a new strategy for Roma inclusion in the EU and Western Balkans” was the title of the second event on the next day. co-organised by ERGO Network. It facilitated a discussion on the existing challenges of modern antigypsyism and its forms in the EU and Western Balkan & Turkey and articulated the way antigypsyism and public policies are related and put forward to achieve equality, inclusion, and participation of Roma.

The event highlighted how antigypsyism is addressed in the framework of the new Roma policies and strategies, with special attention given to the governments in the Enlargement Countries, and discussed the importance of large-scale awareness-raising and a deep understanding of antigypsyism as a specific form of racism. ERGO Network’s campaign “Decade to counter antigypsyism” following the timeframe of the EU Roma Strategic Framework up to 2030, will in this regard target the public and offer new narratives and measures to combat antigypsyism.

The third event co-organised by ERGO Network with the title “Ensuring adequate and effective regional, national and local funds for Roma equality, inclusion and participation – past, present and future challenges” took place on 18 May.

The event was organised jointly by ERGO Network, the Central European University Democracy Institute and Fundación Secretariado Gitano under the Roma Civil Monitoring Consortium together with Nevo Parudimos, RROMA, Autonómia Foundation, and the office of MEP Romeo Franz.
The event facilitated 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. It also highlighted the importance of Roma civil society monitoring of the EU Roma Strategic Framework and National Roma Frameworks for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.

The event provided examples from the national level on the inclusion of funding allocations, or lack thereof, for priorities under National Roma Frameworks as well as synergies with wider national programmes and funding. It introduced a new guide of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, commissioned by MEP Romeo Franz, on how Roma civil society can best benefit from the new EU funding period 2021-2027, as well as the latest report produced for ERGO Network by Marko Pecak on funding of bottom-up approaches and Roma grassroots involvement and has received financial support in the framework of the project “New solutions to old problems” funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants Fund for Regional Cooperation.

This event was followed by the Most Roma Friendly Mayor Award, taking place live on 18 May in the afternoon. The “Most Roma Friendly Mayor” award is a local advocacy component of the project Romani Women Power of Change in the Western Balkans and Turkey (Power of Change), funded by DG NEAR and delivered by the ERGO Network. “The Most Roma Friendly Mayor” is a regional campaign aiming to mobilize Roma communities and strengthen their ability to engage in dialogue with public authorities.

The Power of Change project is implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey and the selection panel chose one mayor per country among the nominated candidates to receive the award in Brussels. The event was hosted by MEP Romeo Franz and opened by Mr Olivér Várhelyi, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.

The final event co-organised by ERGO Network was called “Towards zero segregation in education in Europe”. The event was moderated by Damaris Uzoma, Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), Belén Sánchez-Rubio, Head of International Department, Fundación Secretariado Gitano, Spain and our Senior Policy Officer Isabela Mihalache.

This insightful event informed about the challenges in preventing, combating and sanctioning segregation in education at national and European levels and proposed sustainable and long-term advocacy and cooperation paths towards zero segregation in education.

The other events of the Romani Week also provided recommendations on combatting antigypsyism, defined the place of Roma in the digital and green agendas, paid special attention to the challenges of Roma women and youth, as well as representation of the local communities and Romani language. Finally, meeting in person for this Romani Week following the previous online format was not only enlightening but also inspiring and motivating. It highlighted the need for cooperation between stakeholders on different levels to bring on a real change in the situation of the Roma communities across Europe.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

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Past events – ERGO Network

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