The Mayors Making the Most of EU Funds for Roma Inclusion Network (MERI) aims to promote the social inclusion and integration of Roma through best practice-sharing and learning across European countries, and bring to the forefront local level achievements. In addition, through building local municipal capacities, the MERI network plans to attract more EU funds to the local level. The philosophy behind the network is to create a space for local authorities to exchange on their Roma inclusion programs, to promote a learning venue and a visibility platform for municipalities which ultimately implement national strategies for Roma integration.
The MERI network plans to also invite municipalities from all EU countries which deal with inclusion and Roma as well as with EU funds and how they might be channelled for Roma integration programs. The purpose is to create a Europe-wide platform where possibilities for cooperation, joint programs for EU support and exchanges for solving challenging issues will be opened up and strengthened. The platform will be a learning and an advocacy opportunity at the same time.
The MERI network will be a Europe-wide network of municipalities which will host members from the following countries:
- Countries where MtM has developed projects in the last three years through its Project Generation Facilities (PGF) - Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic;
- The countries of the Western Balkans, where MtM is now establishing its partnerships – Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania
In the above countries, MERI will support capacity building and technical assistance programs at local levels through grants and expertise and assist members to organize exchanges with other members of MERI.
- Any interested municipalities and mayors from any EU-member country involved in inclusion and Roma issues and would like to join the network. These municipalities will have networking and informational access to the other MERI members, will be able to develop twinning programmes with them, will have access to a dedicated website, be invited to regional and annual events and will be eligible for awards for commitment and achievement on inclusion and Roma programs.
- MERI will cooperate with other European initiatives such as the URBACT Roma-Net project and the Visegrad Mayors for Roma Inclusion Forum, as well as with the Council of Europe Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion and the Eurocities Roma Inclusion Task Force to develop exchanges, trainings and joint technical assistance programmes.