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EURoma partners meet in Finland to discuss EC proposals for the new Multiannual Financial Framework and ESF+ Regulation [editar]

On 26-27 June 2018, the EURoma Network organised its 3rd meeting of the 2014-2020 programming period in Helsinki. Hosted by the Finnish Network partners, the meeting gathered over 30 Network partners (i.e. bodies managing ESI Funds and those in charge of Roma policies) from 13 EU countries, as well as the European Commission and the Network Technical Secretariat (Fundación Secretariado Gitano)

EURoma - Secretaría técnica

EURoma partners meet in Finland to discuss EC proposals for the new Multiannual Financial Framework and ESF+ RegulationThe meeting focused on the European Commission´s proposal for the new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027, in particular the ESF+ and ERDF Regulations, in order to reflect and discuss on how to build on the new opportunities created by the financial instruments to advance Roma inclusion.

The first day of the meeting was devoted to reviewing relevant EU developments in connection with ESI Funds and Roma inclusion.

The European Commission´s representative, discussed the new proposal for the next long-term EU budget as well as the proposal for Regulation on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and ERDF. Main highlights:

  • The new ESF+ will have an overall budget of €101.2 billion and will bring together various elements: ESF, YEI and FEAD, EaSI and the Health programme.
  • At least 25 % of national ESF+ resources will be earmarked for promoting social inclusion and tackling poverty.
  • Co-financing percentages are lowered (less developed=70%, in transition= 55% and more developed 40%).
  • “Ex ante conditionalities” are replaced by “enabling conditions”. These are fewer, more focussed on the goals of the fund concerned. They will be monitored and must be applied throughout the programming period (i.e. if not fulfilled this is a reason to stop committing further money in that region / country).
  • The link with the European Semester will be strengthened and country specific recommendations (CSR) that will be taken into account at the beginning of the programming period and at the mid-term review.
  • The ESF+ shall support among others the specific objective of promoting socio-economic integration of marginalised communities such as the Roma (the mention to Roma is explicit but not exclusive).
  • The ERDF Regulation does not include an explicit mention to Roma, only to marginalised communities.

Afterwards, the plenary set up to work in smaller working groups to reflect on the opportunities created by the new EU Budget for Roma inclusion.  Some of the conclusions from the working groups focused on (education) the importance of early childhood education and preventing early school leaving, combating school segregation and enhancing teacher´s intercultural competences, (employment) tackling discrimination, using a mixed approach (Roma/ structures/society), offering a wide range of options to Roma, the importance of digital competences, (social exclusion) eradicating settlements using a combination of ESF – ERDF, the need to adopt a territorial approach and use an integrated approach.

Discrimination was identified as a key issue where ESF+ should invest. The importance of using an integrated approach or making sure that innovation/ EaSI: leads to the scaling up of projects was also highlighted. The importance of having long-term programmes and avoiding having calls for proposals every year was also stressed along with the need to improve public procurement systems. As regards the evaluation system and indicators the focus on qualitative indicators was seen as a very positive step but the partners regretted that there were only employment indicators and that social inclusion indicators were missing. The partners also called for greater flexibility in co-funding and eligibility of actions and for a reduction of the administrative burden. 

The second day of the meeting was devoted to analysing the Finnish context as regards Roma policies and ESI Funds aimed at promoting social inclusion, equal opportunities and non-discrimination of the Roma population building upon the presentations made by Finnish Network partners.

Following the presentation of the general context, a number of initiatives, funded by ESI Funds and other funding sources, were presented. These presentations aimed to contribute to the exchange of experiences among partners and to identify relevant elements for the success of interventions targeting Roma.

Closing the meeting, the Counsellor of Education at the Finnish National Agency for Education, addressed the audience to present how the Finnish education system has managed to dramatically reduce dropout rates amongst Roma, showing that a strong and inclusive education system coupled with some positive discrimination measures are key to the academic success of Roma pupils.

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