ERGO Network: An online Romani week – Adapting to the new realities by addressing the fight against antigypsyism from different angles

For the first time, due to the ongoing pandemic, Romani week was postponed in early spring this year and an online version of the Romani Week 2021 was organized from 27th to 30th of September. As the practice shows, each Romani week builds on the work of the previous one and this year was no different. Being a platform to raise concerns, but also exchange knowledge between policymakers, experts, activists and organizations, the event was focusing to debate post 2020 EU policies for Romani inclusion, advocate for specific subjects covering areas such as health, education, employment, online hate speech, environmental justice; and offer specific recommendations on combatting antigypsyism, on the effectiveness of the post 2020 EU policies for Romani people, as well as on the recovery and resilience national plans.

ERGO network was once again a proud co-organizer and partner to this edition of the Romani week, under the patronage of the European Parliament, European Commission and the Council of the European Union and its MEP hosts: Romeo Franz, Peter Pollák, Terry Reintke, Cornelia Ernst, Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Tomáš Zdechovský, Evin Incir, Rasmus Andresen, Anna Júlia Donáth, Dragoș Pîslaru, Sergey Lagodinsky.

ERGO’s participation started on the 27th, with the speech of director Gabriela Hrabanova at the Equality, Inclusion and Participation of Romani People by Law event, highlighting that […] one of the ways forward is to have in place legislation […] having a specific directive, it increases chances to punish also specific forms of antigypsyism […].

Are the online platforms safe for Roma? – was the title of the first event during that day. Knowing that online hate speech has been steadily on the rise during the past decade, especially during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, the event was aiming to foster a debate which would lead to identifying positive solutions, policy proposals, as well as advocacy points relevant for further addressing the new challenges arisen during the current pandemic that present new obstacles for a better inclusion of Roma in society. The event was hosted by MEP Pierrette Herzberger Fofana and co-organized by European Roma Grassroots Organizations network (ERGO), Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG), European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), and International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH) as part of their efforts of to tackle and address antigypsyist online hate speech.

The fight against institutional antigypsyism is for the first time at the centre of the new EU Roma Framework, marking the important shift in policy development approach on Roma inclusion at EU and national level. The second co-organized event by ERGO network, together with the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, European Roma Rights Centre, Roma Active Albania, Phiren Amenca and Equinet called Adopting National Roma Strategic Frameworks 2021 – 2030 – aimed to build on the results of the EU Platform for Roma Inclusion taking place on 21-22 September 2021 and use the results to inform about the follow-up steps by the European Commission in providing guidelines to Member States and Enlargement region and of the civil society and other key stakeholders in the implementation and monitoring of the national Roma strategic frameworks.

The conference Addressing environmental justice in Roma communities – that was co-organized by ERGO network in cooperation with the European Environmental Bureau and the European Public Health Alliaance on the 29th was focusing on awareness raising of environmental determinants of health, such as environmental discrimination against Roma communities and its impact on health to set the issue on the European and national political agenda.

ERGO’s member Roma Active Albania co-organized and implemented the EU Award for Roma Integration in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 2021 which is supported by the European Union. The award ceremony Extraordinary People Promoting Equality through Employment – as this year the emphasize was on the importance of Roma employment, as a mechanism to break the circle of exclusion, was organized in the Concert Noble venue on the 29th in the afternoon.

Making EU funding & finance work for Roma – was the last event that was co-organized by ERGO network on the 30th of September. This event was focusing on informing about different EU funds and programmes available for Roma inclusion and showcasing examples of partnership´ alliances for the efficient use of EU funds.

Having this Romani week online was truly unusual; however, it doesn’t change the objectives of this event. More than ever, actions need to follow the words spoken those days online. Recognition of antigypsyism must be strengthen, as well as cooperation between stakeholders for an effective implementation of the EU Roma Framework. Only together, we can develop strategic and coherent responses to help the Romani communities across Europe.

Full article.