National governments in Europe can greatly enhance the implementation of their National Roma Integration Strategies and social inclusion more broadly. One proven way of doing this is by providing assistance to local authorities and organizations to access and implement projects financed by European Structural and Investment Funds.
The Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma Program of the Open Society Foundations has worked for more than five years with local communities to leverage EU funds for social inclusion projects targeting Roma, as well as other disadvantaged communities. This paper summarizes the experiences and methodologies employed by the program, bearing in mind that national authorities—particularly in new member states benefiting from Structural Funds—might be keen to replicate a similar model to advance their own social inclusion goals.
National governments can establish similar support mechanisms for local communities in order to intensify local spending of EU funds for social inclusion. This assistance is most relevant for EU Member States with sizeable Roma communities including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.