On 27 April EURoma Network organised a European online event to boost the consideration of Roma equality, inclusion and non-discrimination in the programming of 2021-2027 European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) at regional level. The meeting aimed to address one of the challenges identified in the 2014-2020 programming period: ensuring that interventions aimed at Roma (whether target or mainstream) are not only included at national level/in national programmes in order to foster that the full potential of these European Cohesion Policy Funds to adapt to the specificities of the regions and address their challenges is used.
The event gathered more than 120 participants, including representatives from regional public authorities (those involved in the programming of ESF+/ERDF and those in charge of policies related to Roma inclusion, equality and participation as well as to other sectoral policies of relevance) and from national public authorities (notably EURoma partners), especially those from countries where the programming at regional level is relevant. The meeting also counted on the participation of representatives from European Commission Directorate-Generals Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).
In particular, the initiative aimed, through the exchange of ideas and experiences, to:
- Explore the possibility to promote the programming of measures targeting the Roma population in the context of the Specific Objectives related to the socio-economic inclusion of marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups, including Roma, notably ESF+ (j) and ERDF 4(iii).
- Consider the options to foster the consideration of Roma inclusion, equality and non-discrimination within other ESF+/ERDF Specific Objectives, whether through target of mainstream approaches.
- Encourage the consideration of elements that have proven to be essential for measures to be effective and have a real impact such as the explicit mention, the length (long) and scale of the initiatives, the combination of target and mainstream approaches, the connection with the policy framework, the complementarity of funds…
European Cohesion Policy Funds and Roma inclusion and equality
Following a general presentation of the EURoma Network and the context and objectives of the meeting by EURoma Technical Secretariat, representatives of the European Commission Directorate-General (DG) Justice (in charge of Roma policies), DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusiion and DG Regional and Urban Policy (in charge of ESF+ and ERDF) provided an overview of the current context as regards the policy framework for Roma equality, inclusion and participation as well as their consideration in the 2021-2027 European Cohesion Policy Funds (notably ESF+ and ERDF).
EURoma Checklist for the Effective Inclusion of Roma Interventions within European Cohesion Policy Funds programming 2021-2027
The Checklist for the Effective Inclusion of Roma Interventions within European Cohesion Policy Funds programming 2021-2027 elaborated by EURoma to contribute to the programming process was then presented. This document aims to provide recommendations on how to set adequate basis in the programming documents (i.e. Partnership Agreement and European Cohesion Policy Funds programmes, notably ESF+ and ERDF) to ensure that measures implemented in the future have a real impact and contribute to reducing Roma exclusion and discrimination effectively. It is addressed to the different stakeholders (at EU, national and regional levels) that should be involved in the elaboration of these documents (including those in charge of the programming but also those related to the policies aimed at promoting Roma equality, inclusion and participation and other sectoral policies of relevance for Roma population, as well as other relevant actors). It encourages Member States to go a step further by introducing improvements that were not implemented in the period 2014-2020, thus learning from what has worked well and what has not worked so well.
Panel of experiences and views from different actors
The last session was devoted to the presentation of experiences and views from different actors on the use of ESF+ and ERDF to address Roma equality and inclusion at regional level (whether through regional or national programmes). In their inputs, they reflected on the learnings from the 2014-2020 programming period and on how they could be translated into the 2021-2027 period.
Eusebio González Castilla of the Social Housing Agency of the Region of Madrid (Spain) shared the role of the Agency and the rehousing operations they undertook in the context of the 2014-2020 Madrid regional Operational Programme using ERDF. If approved, these operations will contnue in the 2021-2027 period with ERDF and ESF+ support.
Tibor Škrabský of the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Roma Communities from Slovakia presented how they address the regional dimension and interventions at regional level in the context of a national programme, including the involvement of regional and local actors.
Finally, Ana Oprisan of the ROMACT programme reflected on the key elements that, based on the experience acquired within this joint Council of Europe- European Commission programme, should be taken into account when considering interventions at regional level to ensure that they are effective and do reach Roma.