Fifth Task Force Meeting Held Online
- 15 Dec 2020
In the course of COVID-19 pandemic, RCC’s Roma Integration held its fifth Task Force meeting on 15 December 2020 online, striving to take the most socially responsible approach while maintaining the meeting in which the key partners from the region traditionally share their achievements and challenges on Roma integration.
The key partners from the participating economies followed up on the status of implementation of the Declaration of Western Balkans Partners on Roma Integration within the EU Enlargement Process (Poznan Declaration), adopted in 2019, as well as the Ministerial meeting on Roma Integration in Tirana, held in October 2020 that resulted in concrete conclusions endorsed during Sofia Summit.
In line with the commitments expressed in the Poznan Declaration, the Governments of the Western Balkans started the mapping of illegal settlements, with the commitment to end this process by the end of the year 2021. In order to support this process, Roma Integration developed the software for data gathering in the mapping process which helps the Governments in the region in this process.
Furthermore, the participants committed to speed up the process of adopting roadmaps for ending statelessness among Roma, which is expected in 2021, with the target to end statelessness entirely by 2024.
The Task Force key partners were also called to enhance the cooperation with the National Statistical Offices to collect data relevant to measure the impact of the Roma integration policy and the progress towards the targets set out under the Poznan Declaration.
As regards Roma Responsive Budgeting, it was stated that significant budget cuts were made in the dedicated Roma integration budgets, and redirected into emergency funds to fight COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it will be of utmost importance that various stakeholders, including Ministries of Finance, are fully involved and properly budget funds, making sure that Roma issues are not forgotten in the amendment of the public budget. Once again, it was underlined that the Roma Responsive Budgeting can serve as guidelines in this process.
The meeting continued with the discussion on adapting the National Roma Integration Strategies within the participating economies to the new EU Roma Strategic Framework presented in October 2020. It is agreed that the recommended targets will be aligned both with the Poznan Declaration and the new EU Framework, but also adjusted to the local context by September 2021.
Acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly deteriorated the economic situation of Roma, further discussion continued in the direction of economic empowerment and employment opportunities for Roma, and introduction of Digital Agenda and Green Agenda, and possibilities for Roma in these.
The participants fully agreed that there is a widespread need to fight against antigypsyism in the region, a special form of racism directed towards Roma, as antigypsyism is the root of problems and discrimination Roma people face on a daily basis. Therefore, all involved parties will work on the institutional recognition of the term antigypsyism.
The meeting gathered National Roma Contact Points from the participating governments: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey; two Roma civil society representatives from the enlargement region; representatives of the European Union; Open Society Foundations and the Regional Cooperation Council.
The RCC’s Roma Integration Action Team is dedicated to working with its governmental partners in order to speed up the process of Roma equality, inclusion, and participation in the enlargement region, which is one of the preconditions for the European Union accession.