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When different levels of government are involved in implementing a policy or strategy, organising the funding can be challenging. A multi-level partnership helps ensure that funds are allocated adequately and spent well.
Social Cohesion Plan for cities and towns in Wallonia (Belgium)
The Social Cohesion Plan for cities and towns in Wallonia aims to support municipalities committed to promoting social cohesion. The Plan is strongly based on effective partnerships and networks. The partnerships often involve a transfer of funds to one or more organisations (associations, institutions or services) that implement actions in the plan. The partnerships are coordinated via a “Commission for local support” (Commission d’accompagnement). This Commission ensures the smooth running of the Social Cohesion Plan.
A 2010 report shows that participation of partners in the Social Cohesion Plan has substantially increased. The Commission for local support, which meets on average twice a year, is a participatory tool that boosts local projects. More than half of the municipalities have been involved in the Commission with sub-committees created to focus on different thematic areas. As a result of the discussions within these participatory committees, around €4 million have been allocated to key partner associations.
Source: Interview Patrick Charlier, Centre pour l’Égalité des Chances et la Lutte Contre la Racisme 2011, Brussels, Belgium.
Bottom-up processes can prove to be the solution for proper and effective budget allocation for fundamental rights activities. Continuous involvement of regional and local authorities can ensure better planning of budget spending and result in the successful implementation of fundamental rights initiatives. Regional and local authorities are also in a better position to promote synergies within already existing resources.
Local and regional needs
Sometimes the general terms and conditions of funding schemes do not match local and regional needs. The effectiveness of national funding schemes is clearly enhanced if there are mechanisms in place to adapt them to local or regional contexts.
The Flemish government established 13 local and accessible Discrimination Complaint Offices (Meldpunten Discriminatie) throughout Flanders to implement the regional Flemish Decree on Equal Opportunities and Non-Discrimination of 2008. The centres are funded solely by the regional government.
Source: Interview Marian Vandenbossche, Advisor, Gelijke Kansen in Vlaanderen, 2012, Brussels, Belgium
Local/regional level funding schemes
There may be possibilities to include fundamental rights activities in the budget schemes of local or regional authorities. When there is no earmarked municipal budget for fundamental rights, an effort to combine municipal and regional funding streams can help finance fundamental rights initiatives. For example, the projects in Sweden that participated in the research had all received funding from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR).
There may also be national bodies that can finance fundamental rights activities. For example, some national human rights institutions have dedicated grants for education and training programmes.
There are EU budgets for co-financing programmes and projects related to fundamental rights. The European Commission also makes direct financial contributions in the form of grants to projects or organisations which help implement EU programmes or policies.
EU funds have strict eligibility criteria and reporting obligations that should be carefully considered before applying. The stated objectives of EU funds also need to be studied. Specific links to fundamental rights issues, such as discrimination, can be found in many funding areas of the EU. These include the fields of employment, social affairs and inclusion, or in regional and urban policy.
EU funds in the field of justice and home affairs
The European Commission website has a listing of current EU funding in the field of justice. This includes a new programme on fundamental rights and citizenship. Access to the programme is open to private or public organisations and institutions (national, regional or local authorities, university departments and research centres) working in one of the fields covered by the objectives. There is also EU funding in the field of home affairs, which includes an Integration Fund, Return Fund and a Refugee Fund, for instance.
EU structural funds
For regional and local authorities, the EU’s structural funds can be an important source to finance activities related to fundamental rights. The overarching objectives underpinning EU structural funds include promoting more and better jobs, supporting the integration and participation of disadvantaged groups, and developing an inclusive society accessible to all.
Find out more about the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.
Funding for Roma integration
Several initiatives are supporting local authorities to plan and implement strategies for Roma inclusion and apply for national or EU funding. These include providing them with expertise and opportunities to learn from each other and share experiences: The Open Society Foundation’s Mayors Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma Inclusion Network (MERI) brings together municipalities from Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and at a later stage from Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia and the Czech Republic, to exchange good practice, establish services for Roma and support the use of EU funds by local communities.