Programme agreement signed for the Local Development programme in Romania

The programme agreement for the Romanian Local Development was signed on 19 June 2018.

Key information about the programme

  • The programme is operated by: The Romanian Social Development Fund (RSDF)
  • The Donor Programme Partner in this programme is: Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS)
  • The International Partner Organisation in this programme is: Council of Europe (CoE)
  • The programme's objective is: Strengthened social and economic cohesion
  • The programme funding (excluding co-financing) amounts to €70 million and is funded through the EEA Grants (€25 million) and Norway Grants (€45 million). 

Why is the programme needed?

Social and economic cohesion are key to reducing poverty and promoting equality in society. A cohesive society values diversity and is inclusive of all citizens, regardless of sex, race, ethnic or social origin, language, age, or disability. This programme responds to the need to promote increased social and economic cohesion in Romania by addressing local development, poverty reduction and enhanced inclusion of Roma communities.

Poverty and inequality remain high in Romania, with increasing regional disparities and numerous economic and social challenges. The European Commission has noted a declining labour force and an education system that “does not sufficiently prepare people for employment and better social integration.” There is still a high number of early school leavers and a high number of young people not in education, employment or training. Roma are the largest minority in Europe, and according to the Council of Europe an estimated 1.85 million Roma live in Romania (8.32% of the population). Many face barriers to social inclusion, in access to education, employment, healthcare and housing, as well as facing discrimination, racism and antigypsyism. Many are living at risk of poverty and in severe material deprivation.

While significant investments are being made in Romania through national and European Union funds, some strategic areas are not covered. This provides an opportunity for the EEA and Norway Grants to help support the achievement of national strategy goals in combatting poverty and social exclusion and in contributing to Roma inclusion, provision of quality education, children’s rights and youth policy, and in supporting administrative capacity to achieve local development. It also allows the Grants to help the Romanian government in the implementation of national strategies in these policy areas and to honour its commitments towards national, European and international standards.  

What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries?

The programme will contribute to strengthening social and economic cohesion through several targeted outcomes:

  • Enhanced inclusion and empowerment of Roma
  • Enhanced social inclusion of children and youth
  • Strengthened capacity of the educational system to ensure inclusive and quality education
  • Increased use of social services by disadvantaged groups
  • Increased knowledge of central and local government to enact good governance principles
  • Increased implementation of the recommendations by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued after 2015

The programme is implemented through 4 pre-defined projects on integration through sport, inclusion of children and youth at risk, improving local public administration, and capacity building of public governance. In addition, calls for proposals will address local development, poverty reduction, Roma inclusion, children and youth at risk, human rights. Two small grants schemes will support Roma inclusion and local development.

The main target beneficiaries include: persons belonging to vulnerable groups and communities in disadvantaged situations, Roma populations at risk of poverty and social exclusion, children and youth at risk (including children with disabilities, special educational needs, detainees, etc.), families, professionals, other community members, civil society, and public administration staff, county and local councillors.

Concerning Roma inclusion and empowerment, the programme aims to improve the living standards and educational opportunities for Roma communities through empowerment measures and the provision of education, employment, healthcare and housing services. Focus will also be on providing integrated and sectoral approaches and promoting community participation.

The programme contributes to a more inclusive education for children and youth at risk through the reduction of early-school leaving.  For example, activities will provide support services to 7,000 children, train 1,400 teachers, and reach out to 2,400 parents and youth and build the capacity of social workers in at least 20 youth centres.

To build local capacity and to internalise the principles of good governance at the level of public authorities and institutions, the programme will provide also training, mentoring and coaching activities to 3,500 public administration staff and politicians, covering 1,100 municipalities.

The programme also contributes in the development of the central and local administration knowledge to implement good governance principles and the recommendations issued by the European Court of Human Rights for Romania, including recommendations on children’s rights, detainees’ rights, minority rights, rights of persons with disabilities and women’s rights. The programme will also establish mechanisms to protect the rights of people belonging to minorities and measures to combat discrimination at national level.

How will the programme strengthen bilateral relations?

The programme aims to further strengthen bilateral relations between Romania and the Donor States. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) supports the programme by advising on the bilateral dimension and donor partnership projects, while also providing input on aspects related to local development and good governance. KS also supports a pre-defined project on improving access and quality of services to citizens. Donor partnership will be facilitated through matchmaking events and activities in conjunction with the launch of calls for proposals. These partnerships can result in mutually beneficial activities and long-lasting cooperation between involved partners.

Availability of funding through open calls

Funding will be made available through open call for proposals. Calls will be launched on an annual basis between 2018-2020.

Tentative timeline for calls:

  • Call for proposal – Roma inclusion call “Enhanced inclusion and empowerment of Roma” – Quarter 4, 2019
  • Call for proposal- Local development call “Increased use of social services by disadvantaged groups” – Quarter 4, 2019
  • Small grant scheme- Priority intervention call “Enhanced inclusion and empowerment of Roma” - March 2020
  • Call for proposal- Human rights call “Increased implementation of the recommendations by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued after 2015” - April 2020

Two calls and one small grants scheme were launched in 2018:

  • Restricted Call for proposal “Increased use of social services by disadvantaged groups” launched on 6 December 2018
  • Small grants scheme “Increased use of social services by disadvantaged groups” Launched on 4 February 2019
  • Call for proposal “Children and Youth at Risk” Launched on 12 December 2018

Bilateral call:

In January 2019, RSDF launched Call 1 for proposals for bilateral initiatives aiming to identify partners for donor partnership projects, the development of such partnerships and bilateral projects under the Local Development Programme.

Download the full programme agreement for more detailed information about the programme.

More information can also be found on the Programme Operator’s website and the Donor Programme Partners’ websites: KS , CoE