A European challenge: the need to act at local level

Many of Europe’s 10-12 million Roma continue to face discrimination, exclusion and the denial of their rights.  Cooperative and strategic action is needed at all levels to address the many causes of social exclusion faced by the Roma communities throughout Europe.  It is our view that the social integration of Roma is a joint responsibility of all Member States and the European Union.  Successful integration of the Roma community will not only benefit the Roma and allow them to exercise their rights as full citizens, but they will also contribute to both the social and economic development of our society.

The EU has an important role through coordination of Member State actions and to support the efforts that are carried out by other partner organizations such as the Council of Europe. Read more

In 2011, the European Commission put forward and EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies focusing on four key areas:  access to education, jobs, healthcare and housing.  This Framework is a solid process for coordinating action on Roma inclusion.  It aims to guide national Roma policies and to mobilise funds available at EU level, particularly the European Social Fund, to support integration efforts.  All Member States have now adopted Roma integration strategies and policies and the Commission monitors progress made in their implementation.

It is important to remember that the implementation of national strategies and action plans eventually translate into measure involving local authorities and Roma communities.  Achieving true integration of Roma communities requires action at local level.

Local authorities have a crucial role in the integration of Roma communities.  We also recognize that many local authorities face particular barriers such as limited human and financial resource constraints, challenging political circumstances and language barriers to name a few.  For true integration to be successful, local authorities require active political support, courage and commitment, adequate administrative capacity, consistent and lasting efforts embedded in a strategic approach that lasts beyond electoral cycles.

The ROMACT programme

Our desire to support and coordinate actions to assist the Roma community prompted the European Commission and the Council of Europe to launch the ROMACT Programme in 2013.  This joint initiative seeks to assist mayors and municipal authorities to work together with local Roma communities to develop policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including Roma.

ROMACT aims to improve the responsiveness and accountability of local authorities, particularly elected and senior civil servants, towards marginalised Roma communities.  ROMACT focuses on generating long-term sustained political commitment which are designed compel member states to sustainable measures for Roma inclusion. Read more

In line with the Council of Europe principles of good governance for local level member states, ROMACT supports good governance mechanisms and processes.  We, therefore, promote cooperation and partnership between local authorities and Roma communities through agreed working strategies and share ownership of the process as well as the outcomes.  A further and foundational requirement in the process is a commitment to open and equal dialogue between the majority and minority community, this is an essential element in the ROMACT process. 

ROMACT provides local administrations with practical methods and tools to effectively outreach and assess the needs of communities where the most vulnerable citizens live. 

One of the primary focuses of the programme is to provide facilitation for the strengthening of the capacities of local authorities to design and implement plans and projects for Roma inclusion.  It also assists them to submit quality applications for support to EU and national funds which can lead to more inclusive public services at local level.

Currently, ROMACT is implemented on approximately 57 municipalities in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and the Slovak Republic.  This ROMACT support is offered alongside the ROMED Programme which is a programme of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.  ROMED aims to improve local governance, including school governance, through mediation processes at the local level, in order to meet the needs and expectations of all, including Roma.

In 2016, a new component of the ROMACT Programme was initiated, focusing on Transnational Cooperation and Capacity Building (in short ROMACT T.C.C.) which intends to create a more expansive network of municipalities.

The ROMACT principles and methodology

The ROMACT programme aims to build the capacity of local authorities to develop and implement policies and public services that are inclusive of all, including Roma.

Policy change and capacity building are long term processes which require a variety of inter-connected methods and interventions. Read more

Considering the Common Basic Principles on Roma Inclusion, ROMACT is guided by the need to ensure:


  • The promotion of a human rights approach, including equality and anti- discrimination principles;
  • Explicit but not exclusive targeting;
  • An integrated approach, to avoid fragmentation;
  • Tackling local needs through local solutions with local people;
  • Mainstreaming the specific needs of disadvantaged Roma in all public policies;
  • Good governance and transparent decision-making processes, citizens’ participation and accountability;
  • Evidence-based approach and transfer of good practices;
  • Promotion of gender equality and mainstreaming gender issues;
  • Better use of EU funds;
  • Performance evaluation

The ROMACT methodology consists of four steps

First step:  raising awareness and building the commitment of local authorities to Roma inclusion.

The ROMACT team starts by raising awareness among local authorities.  We remind them that the integration of the Roma population represents opportunities, particularly economic ones.

Local authorities (Mayors and local officials) participate in national workshops focusing on the key principles of good governance, potential contributions that Roma inclusion offers to local development as well as the need for policy measures that consider the needs of all.

Ultimately the process leads to a letter of agreement signed by the Mayor.  This letter agrees to allocate municipality resources to the ROMACT process.  Once local authorities are committed to meeting the need for Roma to be included as full-fledged citizens in their municipalities, the ROMACT team helps them cooperate with the local Roma community, represented by the Roma Community Action Group (CAG).

The CAG is made up of local Roma citizens who are committed to dealing with the challenges facing their community and are willing to enter into dialogue with local authorities.

The CAG becomes the representative voice of the Roma community for the local authority.  In each municipality, the ROMACT team facilitates regular contact and meetings between local authorities and the Roma Community Action group.

Second Step:  agreeing on what needs to be done to improve the living conditions of the Roma community.

The ROMACT team helps local authorities identify the root-causes of the marginalization of the area’s Roma community and, also, what needs to be done to meet these identified challenges.  This process, which is carried out I partnership with the Community Action Group, contributes to main-streaming Roma issues within the Local Development Action Plan of the municipality.

Third Step:  translating the Local Development Action Plan into concrete measures and projects.

The ROMACT team assists local authorities to translate their Local Development Action Plan into concrete measures and projects which are inclusive of all, including Roma.  The ROMACT team also provides expertise and working tools in policy and project design.  In addition to our training sessions and capacity building services, we offer coaching and mentoring support, and assistance to local authorities to identify available resources and relevant staff skills.

Fourth Step:  funding, implementing and monitoring measures and projects for making the Joint Development Action Plan operational.

The ROMACT team assists local authorities to identify available resources at local level and, where appropriate, to apply for and obtain national and EU co-funding.  Once measures and projects secure funding and are launched, the ROMACT team can provide management expertise to local authorities.  ROMACT can also assist in project monitoring and measuring project impacts.

ROMACT training sessions and capacity building services are modular, training and support are offered to meet specific needs of stakeholders in the any given locality.

Local authorities and the CAG are an integral part of the ROMACT process, this allows the best possible assistance for the assessment of needs, the development and implementation of policy and plans as well as the mainstreaming Roma needs within local authorities. 


The ROMACT management

The ROMACT programme is a joint programme of the European Commission and the Council of Europe (who are also responsible for ROMACT management and implementation).

The ROMACT central team is based in the Council of Europe, Strasbourg and they are responsible for the overall management of the programme.  Their responsibilities include the provision of ROMACT implementation guides to National Support teams, monitoring, administrative and financial management of the ROMACT programmes.  Read more

In each country, ROMACT is implemented by a National Support Team composed of a national project officer, a national focal point and several facilitators who intervene at a local level in the ROMACT participant municipalities.

National Project Officers:

  • Liaise with national level stakeholders, particularly national authorities and national associations of local authorities;
  • Mediate, in each participating municipality, between the local authorities, the Roma Community Action Group and the local ROMACT facilitator.

National Facilitators Coordinators:

  • Mediate, in each participating municipality, between the local authorities, the Roma Community Action Group and the local ROMACT facilitator;
  • Coordinate the activities of facilitators.

Facilitators help to:

  • Promote dialogue between local authorities and the Roma Community Action Group;
  • Assess the needs of the local Roma community;
  • Integrate these needs in the Local Development Action Plan;
  • Design local policies, measures and projects implementing the Local Development Action Plan.



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  Romanes - PDF (332 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  French - PDF (333 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  Bulgarian - PDF (338 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  Hungarian - PDF (337 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  Italian - PDF (330 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  Romanian - PDF (332 Kb) - Read on Issuu

  Slovak - PDF (330 Kb) - Read on Issuu

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