At the beginning of October, the Vojvodina delegation representing the Roma Inclusion Office Capacity Building project visited the seat of the European Commission (EC) in Brussels. The study visit participants were Duško Jovanović, the Director of the Roma Inclusion Office of Vojvodina, Slavica Denić, MA, the Assistant to the Provincial Secretary for Economy, Employment and Gender Equality, Project Assistants, representatives of the European Affairs Fund of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and the Vojvodina Office in Brussels.
The meeting, during which the work, results and aims of the Roma Inclusion Office had been presented, was hosted by the EC Directorate-General for Enlargement. The most emphasized discussion topic were the results of the Office concerning the improvement of the position of the Roma in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, esp. in the field of education and employment. These issues are of utmost significance for the EC, other European institutions, as well as the entire region, so the meeting offered a platform for sharing best practice examples in various fields applicable in all countries with resident Roma population. A special emphasis was put on the fact that the Roma Inclusion Office of Vojvodina managed to achieve major results in all fields with very modest funds. Nevertheless, it a fact that the Roma community is still in a difficult socio-economical, legal and political position and that the EC is making a major effort to assist the Republic of Serbia with resolving these issues.
The talks in the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities concluded with stressing the need for special, customized Roma employment programmes along the lines of the EC recommendations to the Republic of Serbia, esp. in the segment of increased presence of the Roma in the institutions. The visit was also an opportunity to present the employment models implemented in Vojvodina that had been recognized and funded by the EC. These models have also been pointed out in the last EC report on the progress of Serbia in the EU integration processes.
The delegation also met with the representatives of the European Roma Information Office (ERIO), who presented the work of this civic organization in the field of promotion of political and public debate on Roma issues by providing information to European institutions. The aim of the ERIO broad network is to fight racism and social exclusion of the Roma through awareness raising and lobbying.
Thanks to this visit it has been concluded that the Roma Inclusion Office needs an increased presence and a more intensive communication with European institutions with an aim to participate more actively in the processes of Roma related policy creation and adoption in various fields.