Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor announced today plans to reinforce local authorities' efforts to overcome inequalities between Roma and non-Roma citizens in their municipalities.
A new Council of Europe/European Commission programme (ROMACT) has been launched in five countries (Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Romania), with around 40 participating municipalities.
ROMACT mobilises sustained political commitment and policy engagement towards Roma inclusion by local authorities, given that local administrations sometimes lack the political conviction and/or capacity to implement Roma integration policies – including accessing available EU funding.
Activities under ROMACT include guidance, peer learning, coaching and mentoring to help to translate commitments into concrete action. This work will be sustained and extended by further contributions later this year to expand the scope of these activities. The Commission and the Council of Europe have already signed a financial decision to provide nearly €1 000 000 for ROMACT. The same amount will be issued in a second phase to improve local projects for Roma integration. Thanks to ROMACT, several municipalities in Romania and Bulgaria have already benefitted from specific measures that involve both local authorities and Roma communities.
Europe’s estimated 10-12 million Roma face prejudice, intolerance, abuse and social exclusion on a daily basis. Local and regional measures are essential to improving their lives in areas such as education, employment, housing and health.
ROMACT is a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission, implemented by the Council of Europe with the support of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion.