by ERIO on September 16th, 2016

Social entrepreneurship is explicitly mentioned in the Commission’s 2016 assessment report as a means of improving Roma participation in the labour market.

The Commission reports that, despite a number of initiatives in various EU Member States, “Roma participation in the labour market remains very weak.” They are, in fact, Europe’s most under-represented group in the labour market. This is attributed to a lack of measures that explicitly target Roma. The report explains that Member States have given priority to “mainstream measures” for the unemployed, as well as activation/public work and measures for people with a migrant background. There have also been a number of initiatives supporting on-the-job training and skills development for the unemployed. None of these, however, have had a “significant impact on Roma.”

The various measures adopted by EU Member States have in general been insufficient in countering the “[l]ow levels of education and skills and widespread discrimination” that explain the under-representation of Roma in the labour market.

The Commission reports that “[i]t is evident that all-encompassing, tailored approaches are needed.” Such “innovative measures” include, among other things, an emphasis on promoting social enterprises and Roma entrepreneurship as an alternative to Roma employment. As well as providing job creation opportunities, social entrepreneurship is also understood to often be a means of preserving Roma culture and fighting stereotypes. Such measures are to be supported under the European Social Fund.

All this makes projects such as SERCo relevant and needed. The partnership of the SERCo project aims to promote social economy as an effective instrument for the development of the Roma communities. You can find out more about the project here:

by John Trajer, ERIO on September 14th, 2016

The EU Commission’s report emphasises a need for “more focus on Roma youth” in measures promoting Roma participation, stating that “[t]he situation of Roma children remains particularly worrying” with regards to exclusion.

To promote the “active citizenship” of Roma it points to a number of cultural projects, including its own transnational awareness-raising campaign entitled ‘for Roma with Roma’. This aims at fighting anti-Roma stereotypes through working with media, promoting cultural understanding, and supporting twinning projects between local authorities. It also contains elements related more specifically to youth education and the arts that are directly relatable to the META project, such as the organisation of school drawing competitions. 

Under examples of approaches relating to Roma inclusion strategies in the various EU Member States, the report identifies ‘culture’ as an “additional area not covered under the EU Framework or the Recommendation”. Under this title the report enumerates a number of initiatives aimed at the inclusion of young Roma through artistic projects.

One such initiative is the Museum of Roma Culture in Bucharest, Romania. This is funded privately by Ciprien Necule, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Culture, according to whom a number of “craft classes” and “children’s programmes” will be organised at the museum.[1] [although this museum was severely damaged in a fire in December 2015]

Another project detailed in the report is a “targeted photo project” organised by the civil society organisation ‘MTÜ Ambulartoorium’ in Estonia, 2015. So as to fight discrimination and increase public understanding of young Roma, Roma children and youths were given cameras and took pictures of what they considered important or interesting, and wrote a story to accompany these photos. This project, organised by photographer Annika Haas (responsible for the travelling “We, the Roma” documentary photo exhibition), will be showcased online later in 2016. More details can be found at


by ERIO on September 9th, 2016

On the 2nd of September, ERIO took part in a public hearing titled “Roma women’s participation in public life”, organised by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels. Participants included members of the European Parliament, representatives of the Council of Europe, European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee, and other key civil society organisations were present at the event.
The hearing highlighted the need to develop ideas on how to improve the participation of Roma women in public life as this being considered to be the key element that could lead to their inclusion in society.
ERIO’s senior policy officer, Marta Pinto, stressed the need to empower Roma women and ensure their full active participation in society. “Roma women’s participation in the social, cultural and political fields is part of democracy and essential for the successful inclusion of Roma communities and for achieving an equal society.”, she said. Roma women “encounter more serious obstacles than Roma men and non-Roma women due to the everyday multiple discrimination they face, fuelled by widespread stereotypes and anti-Gypsyism which affect the possibilities for their participation in society.”, she added. She then presented the main factors that causes Roma women`s exclusion from public life such as gender and racial discrimination; high level of poverty; segregated settlements; low levels of education, high unemployment rates, human rights violation, non-compliance of EU anti-discrimination legislation, inadequate investment in measures targeting Roma women, and lack of demographic data disaggregated by gender and ethnicity.
During the hearing, our KeyRoma project was presented as a positive practice. Daniela Novac, one of the participants in the project training organised by ERIO explained how the project helped Roma women to develop skills to participate in society.

You can read the full presentation here.

by ERIO on June 29th, 2016

Even though many social economy projects have been implemented already in Belgium, the Roma community still lacks knowledge about these issues and possibilities. It appears evident that as a socially and economically excluded community, the Roma would greatly benefit from social entrepreneurship as a way to empower themselves both in a social and economic way.

The interviews carried out in Belgium were done in the context of the SERCo project and they teach us different things and give us different points of view regarding this specific subject. Both of our Roma interviewees (a Roma community leader and a Roma NGO), showed the current gap existing between the Roma and social economy. As persons specialized in Roma issues, being of Roma origin and having worked with Roma for a long time, they showed us how social entrepreneurship is still a minor concern in the community and how information about it still takes time to spread. On the contrary, our interview with a representative of “Pour la Solidarité”, has highlighted that much has still to be done from the social economy networks to address specifically the Roma issue. As a non-profit organization specialized in social economy, they have been linked to projects where Roma were concerned but never specifically targeted. This situation creates a vicious circle where very few Roma are either aware or trained in this domain; hence their visibility being very poor, the relevant networks or organizations concerned by social economy do not tackle enough the problems this community faces.

It can then be argued that both parties (the Roma community and the social economy organizations) still have to bring their concerns closer to each another and try to work out solutions by working closely together. This means better collaboration, information, training and knowledge. Knowledge about the Roma community from social economy organizations and knowledge of the benefits of social economy, from the Roma community.       

by ERIO on March 9th, 2016

We have several copies of the following books to give away for free. However, we cannot pay for delivery. Interested people need to collect them at our office (see address here) or pay for postage charges. You can contact us by email at

See the full list of books here.

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