The European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion was set up by the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities with the support of Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues. 130 cities and regions from 29 countries are now participating in the Alliance.
The main purpose of the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for the inclusion of Roma and Travellers is – through its participating cities and regions, in coordination with the respective national governments and while taking into account the specificities of each country – to favour projects and policies for the inclusion of Roma and Travellers at local and regional level and to fight anti-gypsyism.
In line with the “Strasbourg Declaration on Roma” adopted by the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in October 2010 and the Final Declaration of the Summit of Mayors on Roma “Building Trust at the Grassroots", the main objectives of the Alliance are the following:
- To set up a framework for co-operation, sharing of good practices, strengthening local and regional capacities for action, identifying specific problems and proposing solutions. The Alliance will therefore be a platform for political support, exchanges and mutual learning focusing on lobbying, advocating, promoting and expanding Roma and Traveller inclusion policies and projects;
- To contribute to the recognition of anti-Gypsyism as a specific form of racism by condemning hate speech against Roma and Travellers and by refraining of doing such statements;
- To improve dialogue and cooperation on the one hand between local and regional authorities and Roma and Traveller communities and NGOs, including their civic participation in local and regional government decision-making; and on the other hand between Roma and Traveller local residents and the rest of the population.
 In line with the European Commission Against Racism and Equality (ECRI), General Policy Recommendation no.13 on combating anti-Gypsyism and discrimination against Roma.
Alliance activities are oriented along four main lines of action:
1. Fostering political will at local and regional level for Roma and Traveller inclusion
Participants of the Alliance are encouraged to promote Roma inclusion through projects and policies at local and regional level. The Alliance thus raises awareness for the positive effects of successful Roma inclusion and also uses the Congress Spokesperson on Roma and Travellers and the larger network of members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to reach that goal. The “Declaration of Mayors and Elected Local Representatives of Council of Europe member States against anti-Gypsyism” is one of the tools we use in order to do so; so far 74 elected representatives of municipalities or regions from 30 Council of Europe member States have signed the Declaration.
2. Offering a forum for exchange of good practices
Subject to its available budget, the Alliance facilitates the sharing of good practices and organises, , various types of meetings to discuss issues related to Roma inclusion such as housing, education, health, employment, political participation, etc., in order to promote mutual learning, These meetings can take the form of national or international conferences, workshops or thematic roundtables.
3. Increasing the visibility of Roma inclusion activities of cities and regions participating in the Alliance
Since 2007, in order to fight anti-Gypsyism, the Dosta! Congress Prize for Municipalities has been organised as a part of the Council of Europe Dosta! Campaign against prejudices and stereotypes. This prize is awarded biennially by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to three municipalities (sometimes four if ex-aequos) for their successful and innovative projects in the field of Roma and/or Traveller inclusion. The Alliance Secretariat has been responsible in 2015 and 2017 together with other colleagues of the SRSG Roma Support Team/Roma and Travellers Team to jointly organise the Awarding Ceremony with the Congress Secretariat during the October Congress plenary session. In addition, the Alliance Secretariat is contributing to the online database on Roma and Traveller-related policies and good practices at local and regional level, identifying among its participating cities and regions and through the Dosta! Congress Prize, promising, demonstrated or replicated practices.
4. Promoting the involvement of Roma and Traveller civil society
The Alliance notably encourages regular consultations with Roma and non-Roma NGOs on local and regional governance, Roma policies and community needs. It also invites cities and regions participating in the Alliance to pursue participatory approaches enabling Roma to have a say when it comes to inclusion policies and projects at local and regional levels.
In recent years, there has been a strong development of European and national policy framework for the inclusion of Roma. At the same time, awareness has grown that policy measures at local and regional level are decisive for bringing about real improvement in the social inclusion of Roma, across the key areas of education, housing, employment and health and the need to develop these policy measures has increased considerably.
To meet those needs the Council of Europe has adopted in October 2010 the Strasbourg Declaration that identifies clear priorities to work on and envisages a role for the Council of Europe as a support player in assisting national as well as local and regional authorities in their efforts to improve Roma inclusion.
The concept of the Alliance was identified at the Summit of Mayors in September 2011. It was followed by the creation of a core group of cities and regions which volunteered to establish the Alliance and drew up a general framework for its objectives and working methods. After a thorough consultation process in 2012, which included a large-scale survey conducted with local and regional authorities in Council of Europe member states and follow-up consultation meetings, the main needs and interests of the cities and regions were identified.
The Alliance was officially launched during the 24th Congress Session on 20 March 2013 with messages of support from the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the President of the Congress, the EU Commissioner for Regional Policy, the President of the European Roma and Travellers Forum and several participating cities and regions of the Alliance.
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe
FR - 67075 Strasbourg Cedex
Tel: 33 (0) 3 88 41 32 28
The work of the Alliance has been supported by Austrian secondments since 2012. Secondees have been chosen and prepared for their work by the civil society association Austrian Service Abroad, an organisation which specialises in the worldwide sending of volunteers. So far, the secondees have been (in chronological order): Clemens Kohl, Nikolai Atefie, Lando Kirchmair, Kay-Michael Dankl, Christoph Stöger, Thomas Schobesberger, Valentin Unger, Manuel Soriat and Tobias Mayr.