On 22 June 2023, the joint project of the European Union and Council of Europe ”Roma Integration – Phase III” was launched in Brussels, within the premises of the European Commission.
The event brought together over 50 participants – the National Contact Points for Roma in the Western Balkans and Türkiye, ROMACTED Support Teams, international stakeholders, and other EU agencies/ Directorates General. Co-chaired and co-organised between the Council of Europe – Roma and Travellers Team and European Commission – DG NEAR, the meeting was held back-to-back with the 2nd ROMACTED Steering Committee (on 21 June).
Mr Holger SCHOERDER, Head of Unit, Western Balkans Regional Programmes, Economic Investment Plan, DG NEAR, pointed out in his opening remarks that support needs to come from all parts of society to improve the position of Roma at local and national level.
Mr Hallvard GORSETH, Head of the Anti-Discrimination Department, Directorate General of Democracy and Human Dignity at the Council of Europe, noted in his speech that the process of improving the position of Roma is part of co-operation efforts among stakeholders and common efforts are very important with different stakeholders on horizontal governance and Roma empowerment. He highlighted that the implementation of the project will contribute to the fulfillment of the priorities of the Strategic Action Plan for Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020-2025) and continue to synergise with the initiatives and local structures created by the joint EU-CoE ROMACTED Programme for bettering the living conditions of the Roma communities.
The third phase of the Roma Integration project will work closely with governments in the Western Balkans and Türkiye to increase their capacities to tackle the challenges faced by Roma through public policies, including those related to housing, employment, civil registration, and the green and digital transition, while ensuring the implementation of the Council of Europe’s human rights approach and principles of participation and inclusion, equality and non-discrimination, accountability, and transparency and access to information.
The project will assist in the progressive implementation in the enlargement region of the “EU Roma Strategic Framework for Equality, Inclusion and Participation 2020 – 2030”, the 2019 Declaration of Western Balkans partners on Roma integration within the EU enlargement process (Poznan Declaration) and subsequent commitments made by the governments at the annual ministerial meetings and endorsed within the Berlin process summits, as well as in the fulfilment of Roma inclusion commitments taken under Chapter 23 of the negotiations. The project will also ensure that the necessary capacity is built at central level for the proper implementation, budgeting, monitoring, and reporting on the commitments made, as well as reinforce co-operation with local authorities and the progressive alignment with all elements of the EU Roma inclusion policy.
The Roma Integration III action builds on the previous work of the Roma Action Team within the Regional Cooperation Council from 2016-2022 under the IPA projects, Roma Integration – the first two phases.
The third phase of this action will be implemented in seven Beneficiaries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Türkiye. The Action is co-financed by the European Union and the Council of Europe and is implemented by the Council of Europe’s Roma and Travellers Team and Directorate for Programme Co-ordination.
*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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