EWL News

EWL joins other NGOs in requesting Consultation on EU Roma Strategy

[Brussels, 15 February 2011] A group of European and Hungarian Romani and non-Romani organisations sent a letter to the Hungarian government, currently holding the EU presidency, and the European Commission, appealing for open consultation with NGOs on EU Roma policy related initiatives. Brigitte Triems, EWL President, co-signed the letter on behalf of the organisation.

Recognising the important commitment of the Hungarian Presidency and the European Commission to developing a European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (Framework), the signatory organisations requested that a schedule of regular meetings be established for NGO consultation in the preparation of the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies, the Presidency proposal for Council Conclusions on Roma, the February Informal Contact Group Meeting and the April Roma Platform Meeting. The organisations also called on the Hungarian Government and the European Commission to support an International Preparatory Meeting for NGOs in connection to the Roma Platform Meeting in April.

The text of the joint letter, available in PDF in English and Hungarian, is reproduced below.


Honourable Prime Minister, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Commissioners,

We, the undersigned European and Hungarian Romani and non-Romani organisations, would like to express our appreciation to the Hungarian Government and the European Commission, which have made the development of a European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies (Framework) their priority. We are very hopeful that the Hungarian Government’s support for this initiative will allow the successful completion of this Framework, which has been in discussion for long time, in consultation with civil society. Thus, we are writing to request that the Hungarian Government and the European Commission – which is preparing the proposal for the Framework - initiate an open consultation process with NGOs with regard to their activities related to Roma. We are particularly concerned that this is established in the shortest time possible considering the pivotal role of the Hungarian EU Presidency in the adoption of the Framework. The Hungarian Government set the adoption of this Framework as one of the key priorities of its EU Presidency, which should be proposed to the EPSCO Council and the European Council for adoption in May and June 2011, respectively.

There is vast knowledge and expertise on Roma issues among civil society organisations in Hungary and other European countries and this expertise could serve as quality input for the work of the Hungarian Government and the European Commission. Furthermore, the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty describes that the EU institutions: “should [...] consult widely before proposing legislation, and, wherever appropriate, publish consultation documents". [1]

Therefore, we request that a schedule of regular meetings be established for NGO consultation in the preparation of the following initiatives:

  • the European Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies;
  • the Presidency proposal for Council Conclusions on Roma (in all Councils leading up to and including the European Council in June 2011);
  • the Informal Contact Group Meeting scheduled for 18 February in Brussels; and
  • the Roma Platform Meeting scheduled for 7 and 8 April in Budapest.

We also request that the Hungarian Government, in partnership with the European Commission, financially support an international Preparatory NGO Meeting ahead of the 7-8 April Roma Platform Meeting in Budapest to enable NGO consultation and delivery of concrete NGO inputs at the Platform meeting itself. Such an undertaking would be in line with UN and OSCE practices and would clearly signal the commitment of the Hungarian Presidency and the European Commission to Roma inclusion and civil society in general. It would also serve as a model for future Presidencies to ensure meaningful NGO participation in the Platform.

We request that the Hungarian Government organise the first consultation meeting before 28 February 2011 to begin discussion of these very important developments. We would very much welcome that the Draft of the Framework be made available prior to or during the consultation meeting. We also request that the Hungarian Presidency opens invitations to the upcoming Informal Contact Group on 18 February in Brussels to a larger pool of Romani and non-Romani organisations dealing with Roma issues.

We look forward to collaborating with you.

Sincerely,

Orsolya Jeney, Director, Amnesty International Magyarország / Amnesty International Hungary
Erzsebet Mohacsi, President, Esélyt a Hátrányos Helyzet? Gyerekeknek Alapítvány / Chance for Children Foundation
András Kádár, Co-chair, Magyar Helsinki Bizottság / Hungarian Helsinki Committee
Györgyi Tóth, Chair, Magyar N?i Érdekérvényesít? Szövetség / Hungarian Women’s Lobby
Neil Clarke, Managing Director, Minority Rights Group Europe
Erika Muhi, Director, Nemzeti és Etnikai Kisebbségi Jogvéd? Iroda / Legal Defence Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities
Kalman Mizsei, Co-Chair of Roma Policy Panel, Open Society Foundations
Zeljko Jovanovic, Director of Roma Initiatives, Open Society Foundations
Kinga Rethy, Deputy Director of Roma Initiatives, Open Society Foundations
Agnes Daróczi, Vice-President, Phralipe Balázs Dénes, Executive Director, Társaság a Szabadságjogokért/The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
Deyan Kolev, Chairman, Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance
Rudko Kawczynski, President, European Roma and Travellers Forum
Brigitte Triems, President, European Women’s Lobby
Esmerelda Romanez, President, Federation of Kale, Manouches & Sinti Women / Fédération des femmes cale/kalé, manouches & sinté

European Roma Policy Coalition:

Ruus Dijksterhuis, Executive Director, European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network
(European Roma Policy Coalition Chair)
Nicolas Beger, Director, Amnesty International European Institutions Office (European Roma Policy Coalition Co-Chair)
Robert Kushen, Executive Director, European Roma Rights Centre (European Roma Policy Coalition Co-Chair)
Michael Privot, Director, European Network Against Racism
Ivan Ivanov, Executive Director, European Roma Information Office
Bernard Rorke, Representative to the ERPC, Open Society Foundations
Valeriu Nicolae, President, Policy Center for Roma and Minorities
Costel Bercus, Chairman, Roma Education Fund
Isidro Rodríguez, Executive Director, Fundación Secretariado Gitano


For more information, visit the European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) website: http://www.errc.org/cikk.php?cikk=3813

Download the letter in PDF version, in English or Hungarian.

[1Protocol on the Application of the Principles of Subsidiarity and Proportionality, available at: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/treaties/dat/12007L/htm/C2007306EN.01015001.htm. In addition, a 2001 Commission Communication established minimum standards for consulting external interested parties on EU legislation and policies, which requires: (1) the content of consultation is clear; (2) relevant parties have an opportunity to express their opinions; (3) consultations are published widely in order to meet all target audiences, (4) participants are given sufficient time for responses (8 weeks for open public consultations); and (5) acknowledgement and adequate feedback is provided. See: Communication from the Commission, Towards a reinforced culture of consultation and dialogue - General principles and minimum standards for consultation of interested parties by the Commission, 2002, available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2002:0704:FIN:EN:PDF

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