With the vast majority of Roma population in Europe (80%) living in the Danube region, a framework for cooperation, share of best practices and knowledge is fundamental in promoting efficient Roma integration policies in the region. While Roma inclusion actions have been supported in the last years through some European funds, the effects remain limited, at least in the south of Romania. While Romanian civil society has successfully implemented social economy initiatives (ex. Romano Boutique’s small Roma crafts co-operatives), municipalities are lagging behind in providing improved living standards to the Roma. In Bulgaria, on the other hand, Kavarna has become in recent years a model for its comprehensive approach to Roma integration. Nevertheless, social economy initiatives in the South of the Danube still do not reach a sufficient number of Roma communities.
Aiming to facilitate the reciprocally useful exchange of experience between municipalities, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from Bulgaria and Romania, the Romanian Center for European Policies, RomanoButiq and the Center for the Study of Democracy launched on 1 February 2016 an initiative Roma integration across the Danube: Best practices and social entrepreneurship models exchange between Romania and Bulgaria. The initiative sets out to document the process and the findings, encourage common projects (also on the cross-border Romania-Bulgaria EU Programme) and disseminate the findings and approaches to impactful accessing EU and national funds for Roma in the Danube region.
The initiative’s activities will be implemented in 6 months and will concentrate on:
- Identification of the delegation comprised of 3 small municipalities’ representatives, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from Romania and 2 from Bulgaria to take part in the best practice exchange visit in Kavarna.
- Drafting a report on Kavarna’s best practice model - the investments, and projects implemented, funds accessing by the municipality
- Organizing a two day workshop in Kavarna for sharing best practices derived from the Kavarna experience on Roma integrations and successful Roma entrepreneurship models and experiences in Romania that could be replicated in Kavarna and the other Bulgarian municipalities.
- Drafting a follow-up report on best practices – administrative, entrepreneurial, cooperation possibilities, Roma integration financing opportunities for communities in the Danube space in Romania and Bulgaria.
The project directly targets public administration representatives, civil society and Roma entrepreneurs from six villages/small municipalities in Southern Romania and Northern Bulgaria. Indirectly, it will target more than 50 municipalities, NGOs working with Roma and Roma entrepreneurs in the Danube region.
*The project is part of START – Danube Region Project Fund, part-financed by the European Union and the City of Vienna.