BRUSSELS – Roma Integration 2020 is a new intergovernmental initiative starting this year in continuation of the past “Decade of Roma Inclusion” (2005-2015). The new initiative consists of a partnership between the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations; its aim, as in the past, will be to contribute to the decrease of inequalities between Roma and non-Roma people, strengthening the action of governments in a strategic way and achieving specific goals.
According to the Open Society Foundations, the new initiative is promising for Western Balkans and Turkey because it is built on the lessons learnt from the past, namely from the 2005-2015 strategy which demonstrated its limits, and because Western Balkan countries can demonstrate to develop better policies than the EU Member States do. As a matter of fact, even though the European Union has exerted leverage in the past enlargement rounds in order to bring action plans and policies aimed at reducing the discrimination, these solutions turned out to be rather ineffecting in concrete terms. The initiative launched this year can mark a difference with the past inasmuch the EU is not alone, but it is sided by domestic political and institutional actors that have expertise in the sector. Therefore, what the Open Society Foundations hope is that new initiative will actually mobilise competent civil servants who are eager to ameliorate the situation of Roma in concrete terms and not just on paper.
To this end, the Roma Initiatives Office have launched the Civil Society Fund for the initiative, calling Roma and pro-Roma organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey to apply for support for national-level monitoring and advocacy aimed at ensuring that Roma-specific targets are included in major policy reforms and national budgets.
More information and guidelines for the fund: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/grants/civil-society-fund-roma-integration-2020-20160609
Marco RUSSO, EWB Brussels Correspondent