Weekly news


ERIO news and activities

* ERIO acting on the ground: what can school reveal about the status of Roma children in society?
On Friday 3 October, ERIO organised an activity involving 7 year-old Roma and non-Roma children in the primary school Arc-en-Ciel in Brussels, Belgium. This exercise was part of the school research phase of the SMILE project which aims at fighting against the obstacles faced by Roma children in school. This project is based on a set of activities that are carried out in direct contact with students and the school officials in order to support primary schools in their effort to involve Roma students and to create a welcoming learning environment for Roma children and their families. In charge of the project in Belgium, ERIO has already led a number of activities, including desk research and activities on the ground.  
The goal of this exercise was to analyse friendships between 7 year-old children. Because drawings offer the possibility to depict children’s perceptions and feelings and are a privileged tool to encourage them to express themselves emotionally, Roma and non-Roma children, divided into three groups, were asked to make drawings symbolizing their relationships with their classmates and to answer questions about the meaning of friendship and difference. Roma children were assisted by a Roma linguistic mediator. The purpose of this first part of the research “on the ground” was to understand how perceptions and behaviours towards others are constructed in childhood and often determine the opinions and attitudes that grown-up children may have as adults. Apparently innocent and harmless, their drawings reveal in fact much more and will be analysed by a psychologist in order to understand and illustrate the status of Roma children in their classroom and more generally in society.
A further step will be achieved next week with a group discussion in the same school that will involve Roma/non-Roma parents and school staff.
To find out more about SMILE: http://www.erionet.eu/smile
*  European Roma Information Office (ERIO) Receive Delegation from Vojvodina (Serbia)
The Open Society Foundations from Budapest financially supported the project “Capacity Building of the Roma Inclusion Office”. An integral part of this project was a study visit to the European Commission in Brussels, with the support of the European Affairs Fund and the Office of AP of Vojvodina in Brussels. The meetings were organized in the Directorate of the European Commission for Enlargement, European Commission Directorate for Employment, in the Office of AP Vojvodina in Brussels and in the European Roma Information Center (ERIO).

Our delegation consisted of Duško Jovanović, Director of the Roma Inclusion Office, Slavica Denić MA, Assistant Secretary for Economy, Employment and Gender Equality, Dragana Rajić and Ivana Koprivica, who were involved in the project, Dragana Srećkov from FEP, Andrea Stajić of FEP Brussels, Aleksandra Mićić, in charge of publishing, production and project management, as well as Radomir Šovljanski on behalf of the Open Society Foundations Budapest.

The meeting was held at the Directorate of the European Commission was attended by representatives of the Directorate General for Enlargement, Mr. Tristan Le Bérigot and Mrs. Dita Kudelova from the Department for Serbia. The work, results and objectives of the Roma Inclusion Office were briefly presented at the meeting. The officials stressed that the results have been achieved in improving the position of Roma in Vojvodina, especially in the area of ​​education and employment, which is of great importance for the European Commission, the European institutions, but also for the whole region because they offer examples of good practice in different areas, which are applicable in all countries where Roma live. Mr. Tristan particularly emphasized the fact that the Roma Inclusion Office has managed to achieve significant results in all areas with very modest financial resources. He also pointed out that the Roma ethnic community remains in a difficult socio-economic and legally political position and that the European Commission puts great effort to assist the Republic of Serbia in addressing these issues.

A meeting with Mrs. Dora Husz and Kornelia Andrei, who are responsible for the inclusion of Roma in the EU countries, was held at the Directorate for Employment. The discussion stressed the need to have special programs in the field of employment of the members of the Roma community, in accordance with the recommendations made by the European Commission to the Republic of Serbia, especially in the area of ​​ greater presence of Roma in institutions. Models of employment in Vojvodina that are recognized and financially supported by the European Commission, and which were highlighted in the latest report of the European Commission on the progress of Serbia in the process of European integration were also presented. Representatives of the Directorate presented the possibilities for cooperation in the field of employment.

A meeting with representatives of the European Roma Informative Center (ERIC) was also organized, which presented the work of civil society organizations in promoting political and public discussion on Roma issues by providing information to European institutions. Through its extensive network, the ERIO aims to combat racism and social exclusion of Roma through awareness raising and lobbying. It was agreed to establish cooperation in the field of exchanging information through the exchange of information and its distribution through a network of Roma and non-Roma civil organizations and institutions.
There was a reception at the Office of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina in Brussels for the delegation of Vojvodina at which Mr. Predrag Novikov presented ​​the most important activities of our Mission to the European institutions. It was agreed that the Roma Inclusion Office organize an international conference on the position of Roma in the region in order to exchange experiences and good practices in the area of ​​improving the position of Roma.
Thanks to this visit, it was determined that there is a need for greater presence and a more frequent communication between the Roma Inclusion Office and the European institutions, for more active participation in the processes that take place in terms of the creation and adoption of policies in various areas for Roma.

OTHER news

* Roma integration through social housing
By EurActiv

Governments and civil society should continue providing Roma with social housing, in oder to help them integrate locally, and reduce their travel between countries, says Valeria Atzori, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Adviser on Roma.

“Roma are not travellers by choice. They are obliged to leave because they are thrown out of their settlements,” she said. “When they have houses, they stay.”

This is one of the first EESC conclusions following visits to countries with Roma minorities over the last few months. EESC experts met with the Roma community, NGOs and national authorities in Romania, Bulgaria, Finland, and Spain.

Read more here
* Slovakia: Romani parties nominate hundreds of candidates for local elections
By Romovia.sme.sk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

News server Romovia.sme.sk reported last month that hundreds of candidates running for Romani political parties will be seeking voter approval in the upcoming local elections in Slovakia on 15 November. Chairs of the Romani Union Party in Slovakia (Strana romské unie na Slovensku - SRÚS), the Romani Coalition Party (Strana romské koalice - SRK) and the Roma Initiative of Slovakia (Romská iniciativa Slovenska - RIS) confirmed to the TASR press agency that their candidates will also be running for the post of mayor.
Romani parties will field candidates in all the regions of Slovakia with the exception of Bratislava. Most will run in eastern Slovakia.

"There are approximately 800 candidates, in 12 cases we will also run for mayor," said Václav Kappel, chair of the RIS. František Tanko of the SRÚS said his party will field approximately 400 candidates for local council members and 20 candidates for mayor.

The SRK party also wants to field 20 candidates for the post of mayor. "There will be 160 candidates running for council seats with our support," SRK chair Gejza Adam told the TASR.

Read more here
* Czech Republic: Romani candidates win three council seats in Trmice
By ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

A group of Romani candidates who decided to run in the local elections in Trmice has enjoyed success. The "Together for Trmice" (Independent Choice) movement, led by Martin Bajger, ended up winning 19.22 % of the vote, coming in second place and seating three people on the Trmice council.
Martin Bajger and Martina Šimková have become councilors. Marcel Cichý, who was successful on the candidate list of the Civic Democratic Party (Občanská demokratická strana - ODS) in 2010, defended his current council seat.

"We are proud to have succeeded in putting together a group of people who can stand on their record of everyday honest work. This is a group that has come together of its own free will, a group in which each of us is prepared for and willing to keep our promises," Bajger said before the elections.

Read more here
* The EU has spent billions to improve the lives of Roma. So why are their lives only getting worse?
By Jason Overdorf

Hostility and segregation in Central Europe are growing.
Berlin, When Hungary joined the European Union in 2004, Aladar Horvath hoped it would finally put an end to discrimination against the Roma. The EU soon prioritized eliminating anti-Roma discrimination and segregation. It’s spent billions of dollars since 2007 to encourage integration. Nevertheless, grassroots groups in Central Europe suggest the efforts may now be failing as festering economic turmoil continues to bolster long-simmering hostility. A decade after Hungary’s EU accession, Horvath says the Roma’s plight in his country has only deteriorated.

“Even the best program can fail because of the society’s prejudices,” says the veteran civil rights campaigner, who started the Hungarian Roma Party before parliamentary elections in April.

Read more here
* Southeast European Times: Region works to solve Roma housing crisis
By Biljana Pekusic

Belgrade - In an effort to meet the EU directive on Roma housing, countries in Southeast Europe are implementing programmes and legislation to legalise settlements for Roma.

The Roma are a large population in the region who usually live in informal settlements without adequate conditions. In 2004, the Vienna Declaration on national and regional policies and programmes said that the urban integration of informal settlements is one of the key issues for the Western Balkan countries to join the EU.

According to the Council of Europe, there are 450,000 Roma in Serbia. The minority group has lacked the opportunity to legalise their houses because they can not provide the required property documentation that the law demands. The housing settlements are often situated on public land, so it is often impossible to obtain documents about the property. In an effort to improve the situation, the Standing Conference of Roma Civil Associations-League Roma, in co-operation with the OSCE, prepared a draft law for the legalisation of Roma settlements, and submitted it to the parliament.

"We anticipate the law to legalise Roma settlements older than 50 years," Minister of Engineering Miodrag Ferencak, a member of the group that drafted the law, told SETimes.

Read more here

* Czech court reduces punishment for arson attempt on Roma building
 Romea - ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

16/10/2014 - Today 16/10 the Regional Court in České Budějovice reduced a first-instance court verdict sentencing a man to 2.5 years in prison without possibility of parole for attempting to set a building occupied by Romani people on fire. The Regional Court chanced the sentencing to 2.5 years' probation.

The attempted arson was committed on 14 July 2013 during a time when anti-Romani marches were taking place in the South Bohemian metropolis. The perpetrator did not complete the deed.

Occupants of the building noticed the smell of freshly-poured fuel on the sidewalk in front of it and managed to pacify the suspect before he was able to set it on fire. "This verdict is a great disappointment for the victims and for society," Markus Pape, the attorney-in-fact for the victims, commented on the court's decision for news server Romea.cz.

Read more here


“Protecting Roma Against Discrimination: the Role of Equality Bodies”  21 October 2014, Brussels
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO), in close cooperation with EQUINET (European Network of Equality Bodies) invites you to attend a workshop with Equality Bodies and Roma representatives which will be held on 21 October 2014 at the Rue de Ligne 37, 1000 Brussels.

Within the framework of the National Roma Integration Strategies (NRIS) and the Race Equality Directive 2000/43 (RED), this workshop will foster discussion between different Equality Bodies, Roma representatives and experts on effective practices and challenges to be overcome when dealing with Roma integration. The workshop will provide a platform for participants to exchange information and ideas about anti-discrimination issues in their own country and discuss challenges and opportunities when it comes to the NRIS and RED implementation.

The workshop will be in English.

Places are limited. Please confirm your participation by 20 October 2014.
Register by email or phone, by sending your name, surname, title and the organisation you are working for to: office@erionet.eu Tel: +32 (2) 733 3462
EU Diversity Management conference
On the 23rd October the European Commission, the General Secretariat of the French Diversity Charter, and the EU Platform of Diversity Charters will welcome participants to a high level conference on EU Diversity Management at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
The aim of the conference is to assess the achievements of Diversity Charters in Europe over the past 10 years, reflect on good practices amongst Diversity Charter signatories and discuss potential diversity policies for the future.
ERIO Announcement: External evaluator to conduct an assessment of the annual Action Plan 2014
The European Roma Information Office (ERIO) is looking for external evaluator to conduct an assessment of the annual Action Plan of ERIO for the year of 2014. The Evaluator should have experience in: evaluation of European Commission project concerning minorities, Roma or disadvantaged groups and activities focusing on advocacy, awareness raising and capacity building in the field of antidiscrimination, social inclusion and migration.
The evaluation will cover only the activity implementation part of the Action plan but not the financial. The final evaluation report should be produced in English language within the general reporting period of the action plan. Offers for conducting the evaluation are expected from the applicants. ERIO will contact the approved applicant upon signing the agreement.
Applications for the position of external evaluator are accepted by November 15th. 2013.
Please send your application and offers to office@erionet.eu or ivan.ivanov@erionet.eu  phone: 0032-27333462
ANNOUNCEMENT - For 2015 ERIO is seeking for an External Information and dissemination assistant
The External Information and dissemination Assistant will contribute to the implementation of ERIO’s information program with helping the team in Brussels office with taking the following tasks:
  • To monitor online and other media and collect articles and information related to Roma issues and more specifically to the EU Roma-related policies and events, other intergovernmental policy making and actions, governmental and NGO activities concerning Roma rights and integration. 
  • To contribute to, and update the content of ERIO website and other information tools such as newsroom, facebook and other information online pages.
  • To collect country specific information related to the Roma situation in the accession countries, candidate and potential candidate countries to the EU (Western Balkans and Turkey), develop information packages to be submitted by ERIO to DG Enlargement of the European Commission or other bodies and institutions interested in this information. 
The candidate should have the following knowledge and skills:
  • To speak English and preferably Romanes
  • To hold minimum high school degree.
  • To have at least 3 years of experience in working with NGO
  • To have at least 3 years of experience in working in the field of Roma, human rights, minorities
  • To be aware of EU institutions and Roma related processes at EU level
  • To be able to work in team
  • To be able to take ad hoc tasks
  • To be able to conduct internet and field research.
To apply for the position candidates should send CV and letter of interest and offer to office@erionet.eu

The deadline for submission applications is November 11, 2014. The approved candidate will be approached by mid December 2014. Starting date 01 January 2015
ANNOUNCEMENT - For 2015 ERIO is seeking an External Advocacy Assistant
The External Advocacy Consultant will help ERIO’s Brussels based headquarters to run successfully their advocacy, and networking activities. To do that consultant will have the following tasks:
  • Communicate and advocacy with EU, National and Local authorities
  • Communicate and advocate  with ERIO Network members and other stakeholders
  • Communicate and advocate with media
  • Develop advocacy recommendations, statements and papers for EU, National and Local level
  • Conduct research of Roma related reports, policies and use it for advocacy actions.
Participate in ERIOs advocacy initiatives The applicant should have the following knowledge and skills:
  • To speak English and preferably Romanes
  • To hold a university degree in social sciences
  • To have good advocacy and communication skills
  • To be able to work in team
  • To be able to take multiple tasks
  • To be able to do internet research
  • To be familiar with EU Roma related policy
  • To have at least three years of experience in working in an NGO
  • To have at least three years of experience in the field of Roma, human and minority rights
  • To have previous experience in communication and cooperation with authorities.
Applicant should submit CV and Letter of interest and offer to office@erionet.eu
Deadline for submission of applications is November 30, 2014. The successful applicant will be informed by December 15th. Starting date January 01.2015
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