Strasbourg, 20 August 2022 (TDI): Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) signed a new agreement on Friday to help marginalized Roma communities in Bulgaria and Romania and promote Roma inclusion under ROMACT.

The agreement will help marginalized Roma communities in Bulgaria and Romania to access education, housing, and employment, and promote Roma inclusion.

The new agreement – known as “ROMACT 9” – has a budget of €1.7 million and will run for 20 months from January 2023. ROMACT is a joint programme of the Council of Europe and the EU Commission for the inclusion of Roma at a local level.

The agreement extends the Council of Europe/EU joint programme that was launched in October 2013 and has involved almost 150 municipalities in the two countries

Under the ROMACT programme, “the Council of Europe and the EU have developed a specific approach that brings together local authorities and Roma community representatives to agree on priorities, prepare action plans, & secure funding for projects that help Roma people.”

To date, the ROMACT program has mobilized over €140 million to fund more than 120 different projects in the two countries.

Moreover, nearly 7,000 local officials have also taken part in training and coaching sessions as part of the joint program.

According to the Council of Europe, local authorities play a major role, “for example by providing running water and sanitation to Roma communities.”

Moreover, it can also develop infrastructure such as roads and children’s playgrounds, as well as help Roma people in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ROMACT Implementation in Velingrad, Bulgaria

Velingrad is a municipality located in southwestern Bulgaria, in Pazardzhik Province. Approximately 10% of the population is Roma.

With ROMACT’s support and joint efforts of the Community Action Group, half of the population of the neighborhoods of Asfaltova Baza and Anezitsa are now enjoying running water and sanitation services. For years, 80% of the inhabitants of these neighborhoods lacked these basic services.