ROMACT: EU initiative to help Roma with support from local authorities
Today, about 10 to 12 million Roma people in Europe face discrimination and are denied most of their human rights, according to the Council of Europe. In order to alleviate this situation, a successful integration of the Roma community is needed, which will enable them to exercise their rights as full citizens and improve the social and economic development of the European society. In order to achieve this inclusion, local authorities have a crucial role to play. However, they face obstacles such as limited human and financial resource constraints, challenging political circumstances, and language barriers. Local authorities require political support, administrative capacity, and a long-term strategic approach that goes beyond electoral cycles.
In 2013, the European Commission and the Council of Europe launched the ROMACT Programme. This initiative aims to assist municipalities and municipal authorities to work with local Roma communities to develop inclusive policies and public services. ROMACT also seeks to improve the responsiveness and accountability of local authorities, particularly elected and senior civil servants, towards marginalized Roma communities. Therefore, cooperation and partnership between local authorities and Roma communities are crucial to their work. Another fundamental requirement is the commitment to open and equal dialogue between the majority and the minority community. ROMACT provides local administrations with practical methods and tools to outreach and assess the needs of vulnerable communities.
Currently, ROMACT is implemented in approximately 57 municipalities in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and the Slovak Republic. The programme provides support along with the ROMED Programme, another initiative of the European Commission and the Council of Europe that aims to improve local governance through mediation processes at the local level in order to help the Roma.
ROMACT follows these steps in order to implement their plans to help the Roma.
- Raise awareness and build the commitment of local authorities to Roma inclusion
- Agree on what needs to be done to improve the living conditions of the Roma community
- Translate the plan into concrete measures and projects
- Fund, implement, and monitor measures and projects to execute plan
As of December 2017, ROMACT has been implemented in 123 municipalities, including 5 in the Czech Republic. There have been approximately 65,000 beneficiaries in total, with an average investment of €25,000 per municipality per year. There have been 20 different interventions, measures, and trust building activities in the Czech Republic in partnership with the municipalities and local NGOs.
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