The Roma Decade Project

Twelve countries, including several Balkan states, have signed up to the European Roma Decade 2005-2015 initiative. Halfway through the decade, has any real progress been made?

Twelve countries, including several Balkan states, have signed up to the European Roma Decade 2005-2015 initiative. Halfway through the decade, Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence alumni ask if any real progress has been made.

The plight of Europe's Roma population is once again in the headlines as the European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding gives member states until the end of 2011 to draft their national plans in accordance within the EU Strategy for Roma integration and inclusion.

The appalling living conditions endured by many of Europe’s Roma has become the subject of renewed attention since, exactly midway through the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005 – 2015, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, oversaw the controversial mass expulsion of thousands of Roma to their home countries – mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

While the debate rages as to whether France is now in breach of its EU obligations regarding freedom of movement of individuals of member-states and whether they have unfairly targeted Roma, large numbers of Roma continue to live in abject poverty across Europe.

Roma continue to suffer acute poverty, poor housing and much reduced access to healthcare and education.

Alumni of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence  are investigating how much money has been put aside, how it has been spent and why it seems the various Roma communities are destined to remain on the margins of European society.

Bucharest-based Adrian Mogos, Zagreb-based Barbara Matejcic and Nikoleta Popkostadinova, who divides her time between Sofia and Amsterdam, will all contribute analysis and feature articles to a special site dedicated to the progress made during the ‘Roma Decade’.

The project was given the green light after the participants successfully pitched story proposals to BIRN editors during the first alumni meeting held in Montenegro in 2010.

This project is one of the first to be commissioned by the Alumni Initiative, a new programme developed under the umbrella of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

Programme partners - Robert Bosch Stiftung, Erste Stiftung and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – established the Alumni Initiative to strengthen profession cooperation between fellows of the Journalistic Excellence programme.

Through the Alumni Initiative, journalists will receive material and financial awards to conduct cross-border research in the Balkan and EU region.

Alumni commissioned to take part in this initiative are expected to deliver journalism of the highest professional standard, promote journalistic excellence and showcase the talent and ambition of programme fellows at home and internationally.

Meet the Journalists


Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Nikoleta Popkostadinova from Sofia, Bulgaria, is a freelance journalist specializing in social affairs.  She has worked as a reporter for the Bulgarian weekly Capital and Transitions Online, and as an editor for the monthly magazine Vice


Barbara Matejcic

Barbara Matejcic from Zagreb, Croatia, is a freelance journalist specialising in social issues

/en/file/show/Adrian Mogos.jpg

Adrian Mogos

Adrian Mogoș is a freelancer and a member of the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.


Mircea Dan Opris

Mircea Dan Opris is a Romanian investigative reporter and photographer for the national daily newspaper Jurnalul National

Alumni Stories

14 Dec 2011 / 11:17

Roma Funds Squandered in Romania

Adrian Mogoş

As Brussels pressures Bucharest to improve living conditions for its Roma population, thousands of euros paid by the EU and Romanian government to do just that appears to have been wasted on inflated salaries and exorbitant rents and expenses, BIRN can reveal.

08 Aug 2011 / 12:12

All Eyes on EU’s Roma Framework

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

In the wake of last year’s expulsions from France, the EU’s Roma framework has promised to take a tougher line on monitoring member states’ efforts to integrate marginalised minorities. Not everyone is convinced.

11 Jul 2011 / 14:34

EU Commissioner: Roma Exclusion ‘Getting Worse’

Compiled by Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Living conditions for Europe’s Roma are worsening and all European states, including western ones, are responsible for changing that, says László Andor, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

08 Jul 2011 / 13:38

Little to Celebrate Halfway through Europe’s ‘Roma Decade’

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Despite high expectations, the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 initiative is yet to make its mark and significantly improve the lot of Roma communities, say activists and campaigners.

19 Apr 2011 / 09:56

French Payouts Tempt More Roma Immigrants

Adrian Mogos

The village of Berini lies 20 km south of the city of Timişoara in western Romania. The first historical record of the village, whose name means lamb in English, dates back to the 14th century.

18 Apr 2011 / 11:11

‘Roma Decade’ Passes Bulgarian Roma By

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Nobody ever bothered building access roads to Block 20, an infamous housing estate in the south-eastern Bulgarian town of Yambol. Asphalt, electricity, running water and sewage pipes were abstract concepts for residents. Even windows were a rare luxury.