During its two years of operation, the Network focused on achieving, through transnational cooperation, higher political commitment for the planning process of the 2014-2020 programming period and ensuring that the lessons learnt during the 2007-2013 programming period are incorporated as policy decisions in the new period.
Throughout its two years of operation (February 2013-February 2015), the European Social Fund (ESF) Learning Network
“Reinforcing policy learning for Roma inclusion”
(also referred to as ‘EURoma+ Network’ or ‘ESF Roma Inclusion Network’) developed a number of activities to increase the impact and effectiveness of the Structural Funds for Roma inclusion by achieving, through transnational cooperation, higher political commitment for the planning process of the 2014-2020 programming period and ensuring that the lessons learnt during the 2007-2013 programming period are incorporated as policy decisions in the new programming period.
Led, and co-financed, by the Spanish ESF Managing Authority (Ministry of Employment and Social Security), the Network gathered the Heads of the ESF Managing Authorities and National Roma Contact Points from 8 Member States (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovak Republic and Spain) together with European Commission representatives. The Network Technical Secretariat was hosted by the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG).
The Network reinforced and complemented, by supporting specifically the planning process of the 2014-2020 period, the
European Network on Social Inclusion and Roma under the Structural Funds (EURoma Network),
which since 2007 promotes a better use of Structural Funds to foster the effectiveness of the policies aimed at the inclusion of the Roma population.
In these two years, the ESF Roma Inclusion Learning Network focused on achieving its goal to have an impact on the planning process of the new European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds programming period in the partner countries, which led to a qualitative change. Certain progress are perceived in some areas including as regards the approaches used (for example concerning the inclusion of Roma population in the Operational Programmes) and the awareness of the importance of applying an integrated approach (both as regards the interventions as well as the combination of different funds), as well as a clear trend to move towards projects with an increased length and financial allocation, which in principle should have a higher potential to achieve a real social change. Now the challenge is to put these positive aspects into practice in the implementation phase. While the ESF Roma Inclusion Network has come to an end, the findings and outcomes of its activities will feed into the work of the EURoma Network, who will continue its activity to support Member States in the implementation phase.
The Network’s activities lasted for two years (February 2013-February 2015), corresponding with the planning process of the 2014-2020 programming period of the European Structural and Investment Funds.
The Network was officially launched in May 2013 with the organisation of the
Network’s launch event
in Brussels. The event brought together the Heads of the ESF Managing Authorities and National Contact Points of the eight partner countries, together with representatives of the European Commission and the Network Technical Secretariat (Fundación Secretariado Gitano). It counted on the presence of European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, a proof of the commitment of the European Commission.
In addition to offering a platform for exchange and debate among Network partners about the 2007-2013 and the 2014-2020 programming periods, the meeting aimed to confirm the commitment of the Network partners and build a strong and sustainable partnership and to achieve a consensus regarding the key elements of the Network.
Analysing the situation in the eight partner countries: country-by-country meetings and joint report
Following this first meeting, the main priority of the Network was to explore the situation in each of the eight partner countries by taking stock about the use made of Structural Funds for Roma inclusion during the 2007-2013 programming period and analysing the plans for the 2014-2020 programming period in each of them. To this end, country-by-country meetings were organised in each of the eight countries. Held between mid-September and the end of October 2013, the meetings gathered a small number of the key players involved in the planning and implementation of Structural Funds and in the development of Roma policies at national level.
Building upon the information gathered in the context of the meetings, as well as information and data collected through desk-research, a
Joint report on the use of Structural Funds for Roma inclusion based on country-by-country meetings
was elaborated. This report aims to identify the lessons learnt in the 2007-2013 programming period in order to transform them into policy messages to be transferred to the 2014-2020 period. Specifically, it has a two-fold objective:
Take stock of the use made of Structural Funds for Roma inclusion during the 2007-2013 programming period
in the eight countries participating in the Network. It analyses how countries have addressed issues such as the managing model and approach to Roma inclusion, implementation mechanisms, monitoring and evaluation and consultation with and participation of stakeholders and others. It focuses mostly on the principle advances made and the limitations and difficulties encountered in each of these areas and how countries are tackling them.
Make proposals and recommendations for the 2014-2020 programming period both for the planning process and implementation,
based on mutual learning and prior experience of the different countries as well as the lessons learnt during the
current programming period
(i.e. work done by the EURoma Network).
Focusing on challenging areas: transnational mutual learning workshops and thematic handbooks
During the phase of analysis of the situation, members of the Network identified a number of areas considered particularly challenging, in which further progress would be needed and the exchange of information and mutual learning between participating countries could be beneficial.Two of these topics were selected for a deeper analysis:
- Monitoring and evaluation of Roma-related initiatives
- Mainstreaming of Roma inclusion in general programmes, projects and interventions.
Debate and reflection was promoted on each of the topics, notably in the context of the transnational mutual learning workshops organised on each of the topics and the elaboration of thematic handbooks.
Transnational mutual learning workshops
One Transnational Workshop was organised on each of the topics:
Transnational Mutual Learning Workshop “
How to monitor and evaluate Roma-related initiatives under European Structural and Investment Funds
”, organised on 13-14 November 2014 in Madrid (Spain), which gathered representatives of the ESF Managing Authorities, Intermediate Bodies, National Roma Contact Points and other key actors in the process of monitoring and evaluation in the Network partner countries as well as at European/international level (i.e. Agency for Fundamental Rights and World Bank).
- Transnational Mutual Learning Workshop “How to mainstream Roma inclusion in general programmes, projects and interventions?” organised on 12-13 January 2015 in Madrid (Spain), which brought together representatives of the Managing Authorities, Intermediate Bodies, National Roma Contact Points and other relevant stakeholders from the Member States taking part in this Network.
were also elaborated on each of the topics, building upon the analysis of the use made of EU Structural Funds for Roma inclusion during the 2007-2013 programming period in the countries involved in the Network (in the context of the EURoma and the EURoma + Networks), the identification of the potential progress in the Regulations for the 2014-2020 programming period and the analysis of relevant secondary sources. They were also been enriched with the ideas and debates in the transnational mutual learning workshops.
The handbooks provide an in-depth and technical analysis of two topics that were identified by members of the Network among the most challenging areas and in which further reflection and progress is needed and where exchange of information and mutual learning between participating countries could be beneficial. They aim to serve as a practical resource for Managing Authorities, Intermediate Bodies and other relevant stakeholders involved in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of ESI Funds with a view to helping them address the challenges they face in these areas.
Handbook on monitoring and evaluation of Roma-related initiatives under ESI Funds
This handbook focuses on how to improve monitoring and evaluation of Roma-related initiatives under European Structural and Investments (ESI) Funds.
It is divided into three sections:
- The first provides an overview of monitoring and evaluation practices in the 2007-2013 programming period and presents the challenges and opportunities for enhancing effective monitoring and evaluation of ESI Funds to promote Roma inclusion in the 2014-2020 programming period.
- The second suggests ways to improve monitoring and evaluation for Roma-related initiatives financed by ESI Funds, notably concerning information collection systems and the establishment of indicators.
- The third focuses on the key elements of the new Regulations that could help provide better information on ESI Funds invested in Roma inclusion throughout the policy cycle of the new ESI Funds.
Handbook on mainstreaming Roma inclusion in general programmes, projects and interventions under ESI Funds
This handbook analyses how to make mainstream programmes under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds inclusive of Roma, i.e. how Roma can better access and benefit from the projects and interventions carried out in the framework of the different Operational Programmes (OPs) even where the latter do not target them directly. This paper builds upon the premise that promoting the inclusion of the Roma in mainstream society should be the ultimate aim of all policies and, as a consequence, policies and projects should be inclusive of Roma.
It is divided into three sections:
The first presents the targeted and mainstream approaches and reviews the approaches used to address Roma inclusion during the 2007-2013 Structural Funds programming period (mainly mainstream and targeted approaches).
The second explains conditions and criteria for making mainstream programmes inclusive of Roma under the 2014-2020 programming period.
The third explains how to implement mainstream programmes through the different ESI Funds thematic objectives, investment priorities and mechanisms.
January 2015, the Network held its
in Brussels, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). It gathered representatives of the ESF Managing Authorities and the bodies in charge of Roma inclusion policies from seven European countries, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the Agency for Fundamental Rights of the European Union (FRA), the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in addition to the Network Technical Secretariat.
The main objective of the meeting was to take stock and review the results and learnings of the two years of activity of the Network and notably the impact of the project activities in the ESI Funds planning process of the participating Member States. Participants had the opportunity to jointly analyse the steps taken during the planning process of the 2014-2020 programming period to ensure that the learnings from the 2007-2013 programming period are taken into account and in this way try to improve the use made of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) to promote Roma inclusion. The meeting also allowed to look at future by assessing how to exploit the outcomes of the project on the one hand and identifying areas where further action/cooperation at transnational level could be useful on the other.