Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said that Roma are part of our European societies and share a rich culture and history inextricably linked to Europe.
“However, their potential is still too often stifled. Therefore, the EU supports Roma inclusion, integration and empowerment to help them – in particular young people – to play a more active role in their local communities and thereby benefit the whole society”, he added.
Hahn said that through the award, the EU honours people committed to be promotors of a more inclusive society.
“The selected winners are not only great actors of today, they are also the shapers of tomorrow,” the Commissioner concluded.
Roma are one of Europe’s largest ethnic minorities, with 10 to 12 million living in Europe. About 1 million of them live in the Western Balkans and 2.8 million in Turkey. The Roma share a rich culture and history, which is inextricably linked to Europe. But Roma have also faced a long history of exclusion. Too many of them are still victims of racism, discrimination, social exclusion and live in deep poverty. Improving the inclusion of Roma people continues therefore to be a key priority for the EU.
The 13 winning projects were selected for their contributions to the inclusion, integration and empowerment of Roma children and young adults, who represent the future of their communities and are best-placed to drive integration forward locally.
The selected projects supported, for instance, an original theatre production, the establishment of a youth football club, music and dance workshops, the awarding of scholarships and internships, and much more, leading to increased participation in society and the building of advocacy and self-esteem.
The commitment shown by these organisations has already brought tangible impact on Roma integration and should inspire future efforts to continue the good work. By honouring these projects in line with EU principles, and by increasing their visibility and sustainability, the EU helps to improve the lives of Roma communities across the Western Balkans and Turkey and empowers them to become full members of their wider societies.
In addition to receiving financial prizes, the nominees were also invited for a three day study trip to Brussels to attend the award ceremony and to participate in a series of meetings and events tackling Roma integration.
For more information read Publication presenting the nominated projects.