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ERIO news and activities

* ERIO’s training “Advocacy for Roma inclusion”
On 20 June 2013, ERIO organised a training for Roma communities on advocacy and lobbying techniques entitled “Advocacy for Roma inclusion” in Brussels. The main goal of this training was to encourage the Roma to become more involved with Belgian social, cultural and political life. To do so, ERIO invited Professor Peter Vermeersch from the KULeuven and Julie Pascoët from ENAR to enlighten the Roma attendants on the current situation of advocacy, lobbying techniques and networking practices. Professor Vermeersch taught his audience that there were three key elements to take into consideration when it comes to advocacy: knowledge of existing documents on the debated issue, realism as to the expectations of the activists, and the build-up of a tight-knit and knowledgeable network. Julie Pascoët, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of the formatting of the message a lobby group might have. She used the economic crisis as an example; as money issues are on everybody's mind, a strategy is to reformulate humanitarian policies and aspirations in financially sensitive terms. As Ivan Ivanov (ERIO's Executive Director) stated: "No one will listen to you when you only mention the advantages a possible change might have for you and your community. One also has to sum up the advantages the other party will enjoy because of the change in question."

In the afternoon session, Marta Pinto (ERIO's Policy Officer) led an exercise session which was meant to further enhance the lobbying skills of the aspiring Roma activists present. They were given a concrete situation ("Often Roma girls are not going to school") and they were asked to solve that issue by relying on the information they had been given in the first half of the day. Finally, participants were also given a list of all authorities they could address when faced with Roma issues and challenges.
* ERIO joint statement with Eurochild "Roma Children are European citizens too!"
ERIO and Eurochild welcome the integration of Roma children and youth as the focus of this year’s European Platform for Roma Inclusion. Roma children face additional difficulties in realising their rights due to discrimination, poverty and disadvantage. The precarious situation of Roma children is often overlooked and the Platform provides an excellent opportunity to discuss and put forward proposals on how to secure their rights and well-being. “Roma children are often thought of as held back by their community, in general, and by their parents, in particular,” stated Ivan Ivanov, ERIO Executive Director. “Contemporary policies and resolutions often focus on the symptoms of the Roma children's malaise but not on the actual underlying cause of all their issues: discrimination and anti-Gypsyism. This is what should be tackled first,” he added.
Read the full statement here

OTHER news

* Roma exclusion: it’s time for Member States to tackle this European “scandal” seriously
By The European Roma Policy Coalition

Brussels - The European Roma Policy Coalition (ERPC) welcomes the new impetus given by the European Commission to the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies by submitting, together with its annual progress report, a proposal for an EU legal instrument for Roma inclusion: a Council recommendation to be voted by the Council of Ministers and adopted by Member States.
ERPC agrees with the European Commission that the National Roma Integration Strategies are far from making a positive change in Roma’s daily lives, a European population suffering from high levels of discrimination and poverty. Commissioners Reding and Andor emphasized at the EU Roma Platform the need to send a wake-up call to EU Member States and make them reiterate their commitment to stop excluding Roma from society.
Read the full statement here
* EU Justice Commissioner Reding warns over Roma 'discrimination'
The EU's Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has said she will hold "open, frank and honest" discussions with national governments on the situation of the Roma community.

27/06/2013 - In a statement in Brussels on 26 June 2013, she accused some governments of making "openly discriminatory and partly inflammatory" statements towards the Roma. The statement was made to report on the progress of the EU framework for national Roma integration strategies, which was launched in 2011, following concerns over the Roma community in France. The strategy was designed to improve the integration of Roma people in national education and healthcare systems.

Read more here
* Urgent action for Roma integration
By László ANDOR, European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Brussels, 26 June 2013 - The Recommendation we have proposed today underlines our continuing commitment to addressing the exclusion suffered by Roma both in terms of poverty and discrimination. The statistics are startling: four out of five Roma people in the EU live in poverty. Only one in three is working. And only one out of two Roma children attends pre-school or kindergarten. The Commission has highlighted the most important priorities for targeting EU and national funds on effective Roma inclusion.

Read more here
* Survey finds Czech Republic worst for ethnic discrimination on the housing market
By Zdeněk Ryšavý, translated by Gwendolyn Albert

One of the Czech rental ads which clearly states, in the "newspeak" of some politicians: We don't want Roma here! (Literally, "Not appropriate for inadaptable citizens.")
In May and June 2013, a survey was conducted in five European countries to map the opportunities available to various marginalized population groups when seeking housing. As the country with the highest level of discrimination in the rental housing market on the basis of prospective tenants' membership in the Romani minority, the Czech Republic came out the worst of all the countries surveyed.
In the Czech Republic, Romani people were discriminated against in 62 % of the cases reviewed. The testing of Roma access to housing in the Czech Republic was conducted in the town of Ústí nad Labem and organized by the Konexe civic association.

Read more here
* More effort needed for the integration of Roma
By Elena Ralli

26/06/2013 - Following the release of the Commission's progress report on the implementation of national Roma integration strategies, the European Commission has called on Member States to take more action in order to ensure equality and improve the economic and social integration of the 10 to 12 million Roma living in Europe.
As European Commissioner responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor stated: "Roma inclusion measures must be implemented and monitored with the full involvement of civil society, including representatives of Roma communities themselves. They – together with National Roma Contact Points – must also be involved in the current planning of the use of EU funds for 2014-2020.

Read more here


* UN Women invites Written Communications on Allegations of Human Rights
Individuals, non-governmental organizations, groups and networks can submit written communications—including, but not limited to, complaints, appeals and petitions—to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) with information on alleged injustices and human rights violations against women in any country. Examples of claims include arbitrary arrests of women, domestic violence, unfair employment practices and discrimination against women under immigration and nationality laws.
The communications procedure aims to identify emerging trends on injustices and discriminatory practices against women for policy formulation purposes.
Deadline: 1 August 2013

Read more here
* Call for Expressions of Interest: Roma Policy Research Fellowship: Host Institutions
The Think Tank Fund and the Roma Initiatives Office are seeking think tanks to mentor Roma graduates in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.
Application deadline: July 8, 2013.

Read more here
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