How to waste (yet another) 3.450.000 EUR
These are the actions proposed by the last call on Roma of the European Commission*.
- Data collection and surveys;
- Conducting scientific research or other scientific activities in the field of antidiscrimination;
- Monitoring the implementation of non-discrimination legislation;
- Training of professionals;
- Mutual learning, exchange of good practices, cooperation, including identifying best practices which may be transferable to other participating countries;
- Dissemination and awareness raising activities (including at local level), such as seminars, conferences, campaigns or social media and press activities.
In short 3.45 million EUR spent on same things that we used (overwhelmingly) the public EU money for Roma during the last decade – paper and word production. The problem remains that at this moment there is not much real positive practice to share but just a lot of imagined ones. The imagined ones in general sound a lot better and are mostly the result of other similarly designed EU financed “actions” therefore much more likely to be promoted.
Instead of offering incentives to stimulate work in the most vulnerable communities we continue to offer incentives for yet more proof for what we already know. There is very little work done in the communities and lots of work done in hotels and nice offices. As long as we do not reverse the existing trend we can not have reliable data, good research or useful exchange of good practices during conferences and seminars.
In fact previous reports, conferences and seminars agree Roma remain the most excluded ethnic group in Europe, there is not much progress on the ground and we risk serious crises due to the spread of Roma slums in Western and Northern Europe. None of the above proposed “actions” will solve the problems we have. Work at the grassroots can. And that is exactly what is missing.
A courageous and fully justified comment by Valeriu, who adds his voice to those of the many critics of EU-funding that is directed at replicating statements rather than achieving results. Though I can’t help but notice the similarities between the activities that Valeriu lists above, and the list of “main working tools” that are contained in the joint Council of Europe and Open Society Foundations proposal for a European Roma Institute (http://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/publications/european-roma-institute). These include:
– public events, exhibitions and performance of arts
– online technology for the collection and dissemination of image
– expert networking, exchange and co-production among artists etc
– interaction with stakeholders
– studies and reports in its field of competence
In that sense, ERI is mimicking precisely what the EU institutions have been doing for several years now. The main difference is that ERI pretends to be Roma-led, but there are two concerns: First, ERI will not be led by Roma if it is run and financed by OSF and the Council of Europe. It will instead by run, like its campaign so far, by the campaign managers of OSF, and the project managers of the Council of Europe. Second, even if it is run by Roma, but delivers the above points, then the outcome will be the same repetition of paperwork and declaration, decorated as an alibi by a tiny number of individuals who present themselves as having Romani ancestry. That will not lead to any change, it will simply continue the same vicious circle, while giving limited benefits to a self-selected few.