CEB launches EU-funded project to support Roma inclusion

15 July 2021

PARIS - The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) launched an EU-funded pilot project to generate new inclusion models for disadvantaged Roma in the Slovak Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria. 

The pilot project, entitled “Housing and Empowerment of Roma” (HERO), is a €2.8 million initiative funded by the European Parliament and overseen by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN). The latter has entrusted the CEB with the project’s implementation.

HERO will support access to housing and gainful employment for vulnerable Roma families, particularly for those who reside in unregulated settlements. The support will include housing microloans and training and mentoring for life and work skills. About 240 families living in the three countries are expected to benefit from the project. In addition, the project will improve the participating municipalities’ awareness and capacity to improve the lives of marginalised Roma and mitigate housing exclusion.

Elena Flores, the Deputy Director General of DG ECFIN, said: “The Commission is determined to implement this pilot action as part of its broader social impact activities. Inclusive outcomes and equality of opportunity are central to the InvestEU programme and a resilient recovery in Europe. While innovative financial instruments are newer as tools to promote the socio-economic inclusion of marginalised Roma communities, they may hold some of the answers. HERO is about using the power of microfinance to stimulate a local development process for inclusion. It is about helping some of Europe’s most vulnerable citizens to become the agents and “heroes” of their own lives. We are pleased to collaborate with the Council of Europe Development Bank on this new pilot action to help us develop new investment models that could be scaled-up under mainstream programmes at EU and national levels.”

Rolf Wenzel, Governor of the CEB, said: “A significant number of Roma in Europe are disproportionally affected by unemployment, poverty, inadequate housing, and poor health standards. We are yet to have a comprehensive overview of the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable population groups but empirical evidence shows that the situation has only become worse. The CEB is therefore pleased to be able to further its contribution to Roma population advancement with the help of the European Parliament and the European Commission.”  

HERO local activities began today, with a call for implementing partners in the three countries. Interested parties can find more details here.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 42 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable, AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook stable and AAA* with Scope Ratings, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.