The first in-person meeting of the Belgian organizations – members of Roma Civil Monitor, took place on April 1, 2022 on the premises of Mundo B, in Brussels. The meeting was organised by the Phiren Amenca International Network as a coordinator for the Roma Civil Monitor in Belgium. Since the beginning of the year, 5 Belgian civil society organizations have expressed a written wish to join the Roma Civil Montior for Belgium: Kham vzw and Balkan LGBTQ from Brussels, CAW Antwerp, REU Jekhipe – Sint Niklaas, and ESMA-Carrefour des cultures, Charleroi.
The main goal of the meeting was to acquaint the members of the civil monitoring with the main tasks of the project until 2025, as well as to make a study for the needs of civil society organizations. A presentation on “Capacity Building” was given by Ms. Isabela Mihalache, a Policy Officer and RCM Coordinator at the European Roma Grassroots Organisations – ERGO Network. Afterwards, Dr. Biser Alekov, an independent expert and chairman of Kham, shared his plans to compile the first report of the Citizens’ Monitor for Belgium.
It became clear from the meeting that the Kingdom of Belgium has not yet submitted its renewed Roma strategy to the European Commission and this delay will have an effect on the preparation of the relevant citizens’ report for Belgium. The first civil Roma monitoring report for Belgium is expected to be ready in the autumn. In the afternoon part of the meeting there was a discussion about the needs of civil society in Belgium and in particular how to draw up an effective capacity-building plan.
Those present said it was difficult to have a dialogue at national level, as all policies were highly decentralized between the Walloon and Flemish governments and the Brussels-Capital Region. However, the representatives of the organizations agreed to cooperate and agreed on several key topics to serve for capacity building. In addition, a clear desire was expressed for dialogue with the newly appointed Roma contact point for Belgium.