Signature ceremony and strategic discussion on enhancing co-operation on Roma related issues between the European Commission’s DG NEAR and the Council of Europe

On 29 March 2017, at the UN House in Brussels, the Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission organised an afternoon of strategic discussions gathering representatives of international organisations and civil society working in the Western Balkans and Turkey.
 
Ambassador Zoltan Taubner, Head of the Council of Europe Brussels office and Ms Katarina Mathernová, Deputy Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission signed a co-operation document outlining the commitment of the two institutions.
 
Within the strategic discussions, opening remarks were made by Mr Rastislav Vrbensky, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS, Ms Katarina Mathernová, , Deputy Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations and Mr Ben Slay, Senior economist at the UNDP. The discussions took place in plenary and in three parallel working groups tackling policy vision on Roma integration, financial assistance and concrete proposals for future co-operation.
 
Each of the working groups were composed of international organisations and civil society representatives. The Council of Europe was represented by members of the Support Team of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Roma issues, among whom Ms Aurora Ailincai, Head of the Strategic Partnerships Unit, Ms Ana Oprisan, ROMACT Programme Manager and Mr Marcos Andrade, ROMED and ROMACTED Programme Manager within the same unit.
 
In recent years, the work of the Council of Europe on improving the situation of marginalised Roma has been characterised by measures at the level of communities and local authorities. Effective participation, empowerment, and capacity building are the three concepts translated into practice through the joint European Commission/Council of Europe ROMED and ROMACT programmes that will now be implemented in the Western Balkans and Turkey in the framework of the joint ROMACTED programme: “Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level”.

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