The first Advisory Group meeting was held in Podgorica on 14 December 2022, within the second phase of the joint European Union and the Council of Europe programme ROMACTED - Promotion of good governance and empowerment of Roma at the local level. It gathered around 35 representatives of the partner municipalities, central level stakeholders - organisations and institutions, as well as the ROMACTED Support Team. The meeting aimed to discuss the progress to date and planned activities within the ROMACTED II programme, as well as to jointly analyse the prerequisites for improving cooperation to implement the process of social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians more efficiently in Montenegro.
Since September 2021, Community Action Groups have been established in all eight ROMACTED municipalities, which gather 75 Roma and Egyptian community members, out of which 36 are women. Good cooperation was established with the local institutions, which delegated their representatives to participate in the Institutional Working Groups formed in seven municipalities and gathered 77 members. A platform for cooperation and constructive dialogue between community members and institutions was created through the functioning of Municipal Taskforce Groups, which were established by the end of November 2022 in five ROMACTED municipalities and in with the participation of 25 community representatives, half of whom were women. Activities by ROMACTED facilitators and consultants were very intense, as evidenced by the fact that 141 local interventions were implemented, which included community mobilisation, training on various topics, coordination meetings, and other activities with local authorities.
A significant contribution was made to capacity building. Thus, 61 representatives of local authorities and 93 members of the Roma and Egyptian community underwent workshops and training on various topics, the most important of which are participatory strategic planning, and Roma and Egyptian Responsive Budgeting at the local level.
Through the discussion on improving cooperation at different levels, especially between local and central, the participants of the meeting gave suggestions on how to improve it and make it more functional. Thus, it was concluded that it is necessary to better plan and network activities, so there is no overlap in work. As most communities in ROMACTED municipalities face similar problems (electricity, informal settlements, organising transportation to school and kindergarten for children, etc.), a proposal was made to launch an initiative at the central level to work on their solution.
The last session was dedicated to Roma and Egyptian Responsive Budgeting at the local level. A consultant hired by the Council of Europe presented the draft Guidelines created on this topic to the attendees and, through the discussion, received inputs useful for the finalisation of the document, which is planned for the end of the year. Other plans related to the further development of this component of the Programme were also presented.
The work carried out under ROMACTED Programme is part of the Council of Europe’s Strategic Action Plan for the Roma and Traveller Inclusion (2020 - 2025), more precisely under strategic priority 2 - Supporting democratic participation and promoting public trust and accountability. The activities related to other priorities will be carried out in the next two years of the Programme.