29.06.2012Hearing on M&E of the National Roma Integration Strategies took place in Brussels
Representatives of European Commission, Fundamental Rights Agency, member of European Parliament, national governments of Bulgaria and Romania, national and European Roma organizations, OSF, UNICEF and other stakeholders discussed how to build comprehensive, multilayered and participatory monitoring and evaluation system of the National Roma Integration Strategies. This happened during the Hearing “M&E of the NRIS” organized by AMALIPE Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance (Bulgaria), Romani CRISS (Romania), National Roma Centrum (Macedonia), European Roma Information Office (Brussels) in cooperation with European Economic and Social Committee. The event took place in Brussels on June 26.
The time of talking is over, now is time for action, said Lina Papamichalopoulou, Head of the Non-discrimination policies and Roma coordination Unit, DG Justice, European Commission in her opening speech. The role of civil society in preparing and assessing the National Roma Integration Strategies has been massive. Following the assessment of the strategies submitted, we published Communication from May 21 and a staff working document. They identified not only strengths but also weaknesses in the strategies: M&E is among them. Mrs Papamichalopoulou outlined that now there is strong political commitment of the heads of member states as well as of the different DGs in the Commission to work for implementing the NRISs. Now we all are at one the same side and it is time to act, concluded the Head of Roma Coordination Unit.
The participants were also welcomed by Akos Topolànszky from EESC who expressed the strong support of this highest level structure for representation of social partners and civil society to the process of implementing the NRIS. Alina Covaci from Roma Health Project of OSF explained the reason to support the Hearing: civil society should contribute to the NRIS M&E through shadow reporting, budget monitoring, community monitoring and other forms.
Deyan Kolev from AMALIPE stated that the purpose of the hearing is very practical: to stress the attention on M&E and particularly of Health issues in the NRIS and to propose concrete suggestions for improvement. M&E chapters are the weakest ones in the NRIS submitted. They envisage only “administrative monitoring” which proved its very limited effectiveness during the previous years. That is why it is of crucial importance to set M&E framework at local, national and European levels that guarantee civil society participation and Roma participation in the process. Kolev stressed also that it is an remarkable fact that the Hearing is organized by 3 national Roma organizations (AMALIPE, NRC, Romani CRISS), European Roma Information Office and EESC and that all key stakeholders take place in it.
Ivan Ivanov, Director of ERIO concluded that submitting NRIS is a good first step but many other following steps should be undertaken. They should be done together with Roma community and civil society organizations.
During the first panel of the Hearing Jose-Manuel Fresno presented main findings from the report “M&E in the National Roma Integration Strategies: the Challenges Ahead” prepared for the hearing. The aim of the report is to facilitate the debate on how to make substantial progress in the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) during their process of implementation at the local, European and national level, said Fresno. The report focuses on the importance of M&E and its role in the policy process, presents a comparative analysis of the Strategies regarding the sections dedicated to M&E, as well as other related references, and makes proposals on how to support M&E in the implementation of the NRIS. The main report findings show that M&E foreseen in the different NRIS present a variety of methods and processes: while some Member states do not make or make little references to which mechanisms will be followed for the monitoring of their respective strategies, how these will be evaluated or where does the ownership of this process relies on, other are more explicit in this area. Several Member states recognise the need for a strong monitoring system and some are striving to put in place or at least are planning to develop such a system. Despite of this, in general terms there is little alignment between objectives, indicators, systems of monitoring and evaluation process; for instance some strategies include M&E mechanisms that seem to be rather unrealistic for their implementation
Akos Topolànszky presented interesting findings from “To retrieve the lost credibility of Roma policies – on the margin of an EESC study”. He outlined that the survey shows Roma organizations were not effectively engaged in preparing the Strategies and serious steps should be done to engage them in implementing and monitoring the Strategies implementation.
Damian Draghici from the government of Romania and Georgi Krastev from the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues, Bulgaria shared their visions about the future steps for implementing the NRIS’. Both of them outlined that Roma organizations played important role in preparing the documents and they will be engaged in M&E. The mechanisms for this are still not set so it is the right time to propose how Roma participation to be guaranteed.
Ideas in this direction were raised by Kalman Mizsei, Director of MtM Program of OSF. He also stressed the importance of using EU funds for Roma integration.
Examples of monitoring mechanisms and approaches that could be used for Roma integration were discussed during the second panel, moderated by Lina Papamichalopoulou. Ioannis Dimitrakopoulis presented the Fundamental Rights Agency’s past and future work on monitoring the implementation of national Roma strategies. Andrey Ivanov from UNDP raised methodological questions amd provided interesting examples within its presentation “Deconstructing M&E: who should be doing what and how?”. Pia Lindholm explained about DG Justice practice for anti-discrimination monitoring mechanisms and engaging independent experts in evaluating the anti-discrimination policy at national and European levels.
Dimitar Dimitrov presented the second report commissioned by AMALIPE for the needs of the hearing, namely “Good practices for M&E of Roma integration initiatives”. The report proves that effective monitoring requires good political will, engagement and practical support from governments and institutions. But it cannot be confined only in administrative type of monitoring of performance done by the institutions themselves. Involvement of independent experts and Roma NGOs provides for increasing the data gathered directly from communities and practical knowledge of what actually works well or not in the different issue area of policy implementation. There three types of monitoring and evaluation approaches that are necessary for complementing the administrative monitoring envisaged by the NRIS: independent expert monitoring, civil society watch, and community monitoring at grass-root level.
Teodora Krumova presented the experience of Center Amalipe for organizing community monitoring for Health care services delivered at grass-root level in 6 Roma communities. Borjan Pavlovski form ESEM – Macedonia shared examples for budget monitoring of the health care in Roma community.
The presentations raised numerous questions and comments. For example, Martin Kovats, advisor on Roma issues of Commissioner Andor shared that NRIS M&E is not technical but political issue. Engaging civil society and Roma in this process is also political issues and should be done: otherwise the efficiency of the NRIS would be minimal.
During the concluding session Deyan Kolev presented a set of suggestions for establishing robust M&E of the NRIS. The suggestions covered 3 fields: methodological, administrative and financial framework. They addressed European institutions and Member states institutions.
Philippe Hatt, head of Unit for Bulgaria and Romania at DG EMPL stressed that the role of civil society is undisputable. The Commission is permanently facilitating the engagement of all stakeholders in the process of Roma integration and this will be done also for ensuring NRIS M&E.
At the end Deyan Kolev announced that the organizers will wait in 2 weeks for comments to the Recommendations as well as to the reports presented during the hearing.