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Council of Europe Congress launches the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion

John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma13/03/2013 - A major priority of the Council of Europe, to improve the situation of Roma people, will move a step closer to being realised with the launch of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion during the 24th Session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, the President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum, Rudko Kawczynski, and the Deputy Mayor of the founding participant City of Heraklion, Despoina Syggelaki - together with Congress President Herwig van Staa - will address the audience at the ceremony on 20 March (6:00 pm, Hemicycle). A video message by EU Commissioner for Regional Policies Johannes Hahn will be screened, and high-level representatives of cities and regions participating in the Alliance will attend the launching event. The launch will take place in the framework of a current affairs debate on combating social exclusion at local and regional level.


"Intensive exchange on Roma Education" during first Alliance-Event in Budapest

John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma10/01/2013 - On 17-18 December 2012, the Council of Europe's European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, together with the joint Roma mediators programme ROMED, organised its first activity during its test phase – an international workshop on "Inclusive Education: Local Policies and Practices", which took place in Budapest, Hungary.

This workshop acted as part of a mapping exercise, aiming to identify existing experiences and good practices in the field of inclusive education for Roma, in order for them to be promoted and developed into sustainable policies. The workshop brought together municipal authorities and those who work at grassroots level from Oulu (Finland), Vänersborg (Sweden), Hódmezovásárhely (Hungary), Murska Sobota (Slovenia), Veldhoven (Netherlands), Sheffield (United Kingdom) and Niš (Serbia), who are working in the field of education for Roma. It was also attended by members of international organisations such as the Decade of Roma Inclusion Secretariat Foundation and the European Roma Rights Centre as well as the Hungarian CAHROM-Member and the NGOs "Chance for Children Foundation" and "Romaversitas" who are working in Hungary."

During the workshop, the participating municipalities were given time to make short presentations on specific questions, such as the key challenges, measures applied, the impact and sustainability of these measures. The participants also had a chance to discuss good practices and the applicability of these practices in other geographical regions and social environments.

"I observed an intense exchange between the participants during the workshop, which hopefully will lead to strong international cooperation, help to build synergies and support the municipalities in their work in improving the situation of Roma in Europe," stated Ana Rozanova, Programme Manager of the Alliance, after the meeting. The workshop also included a field trip to the after-school centre Ferencvarosi Tanoda, which was co-organised with the Roma Education Fund.

Photos [Flickr]

Summary of the joint Alliance-Event on Housing in December

John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma10/01/2013 - The Institute of Rehousing and Social Integration (IRIS), part of the Regional Transport, Infrastructure and Housing Government of the Autonomous Region of Madrid, in collaboration with the Council of Europe's European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, convened an 'International Seminar on Public Policies of Housing for Roma' in Madrid on 17th December 2012.

The purpose of the seminar was to present the results of the study, carried out by IRIS and the University of Warwick, entitled "Leaving the slums behind: Impact Evaluation of IRIS Pro-Integration Housing Programme" concerning the regional government policy aiming to rehouse Roma families from shanty towns. In addition, representatives of different European cities were invited to the Seminar in order to share their experiences in the field of housing policies for Roma and to give contributions to the discussion regarding problems encountered, solutions provided and lessons learnt, with a view to adopting recommendations to be taken into account by other cities.

The seminar was attended by the Alliance representatives of Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Lisbon (Portugal), Beyoglu/Istanbul (Turkey), Veldhoven (Netherlands), Torino and Settimo Torinese (Italy), Tirana (Albania) and Region of Yorkshire (United Kingdom), Madrid and Malaga (Spain) as well as by 9 other Spanish cities and towns and a representative of the European Commission (Regional Policy).

As a result of the seminar, the IRIS intervention model was acknowledged to be one of the most successful programs for the integration of the Roma minority in Spain through the access to housing and could be transferred to other European cities and regions.

Participants expressed a general appreciation of the opportunity, to gain some knowledge of several successful examples of housing projects like IRIS-Madrid Pro-Integration Housing Programme through the Alliance networking. Their wish was to have Madrid seminar replicated with the support of leading cities which have effective policies in particular sectors such as housing.

The Seminar is to be considered as a consultative activity part of the start-up phase of the CoE's European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion with participating cities which have developed housing interventions for Roma following an integrated and inclusive approach.

Implementation plans for European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion achieve international support at Strasbourg Meeting

John Warmisham, Congress Rapporteur on Roma26/09/2012 - Representatives of European cities and regions, EU institutions, international Roma networks and NGOs gathered on 25 September at the Council of Europe Headquarters in Strasbourg for a consultation meeting to discuss the role and action of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion. This meeting provided the participants with the opportunity to exchange experiences and practices from the field, discuss proposals for cooperation and ways to increase Roma participation in the processes. Some successful models of inclusive Roma policies at local level in different European countries were presented, such as, amongst others, an innovative project in the field of employment from the Austrian city of Graz, resettlement and housing practices in the Italian city of Turin and the Spanish region of Madrid, or projects in Lyon where the focus was put on access to school.
Press Release
Speech by John Warmisham
Speech by Andreas Kiefer
Speech by Jeroen Schokkenbroek
Photos [Flickr]

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"Consultation meeting on role of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion" (English)
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European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion

A core group of 11 cities and regions has been given by the Summit of Mayors on Roma the task of building up a flexible and light co-operation structure to help cities and regions increase their capacities for Roma inclusion. The group met several times between December 2011 and September 2012 to work in consultation with various partners on the concept of this "European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion". The aim of the Alliance is to provide local and regional authorities support in implementaing inclusive policies, especially through exchanging experiences and practices , organising thematic workshops and training or study visits as well as sharing information on policies and sources of funding. Its action will focus on thematic issues such as, among others, education, housing, health care and employment, as well as cross-cutting issues such as empowerment and participation, access to public services and funding, rights and duties. Its first activities have been launched end of 2012.
Background document

About the Alliance

The work of developing the Alliance is currently taking place under the auspices of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities in close co-operation with the Special Representative of the Council of Europe Secretary General for Roma Issues.

Website of the Special Representative
Website of the Romed programme
Congress Questionnaire on Roma

Analysis of the results

Examples of good practice

BIO-Knobelauch Romanes
In close cooperation with the Province of Styria (Austria), the City of Graz and numerous Roma organisations, the association EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURS started “Bio-Knoblauch Romanes” (Engl.: “Organic Garlic Romanes”), a socio-economic project aiming at improving life conditions and creating sustainable jobs for the European Roma population. (more...)

CoE Database of good practise