Support means empowerment. This key statement applies to the implementation of the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) in both Germany and Sweden.
On 29 and 30 October, members of the Swedish FEAD managing authority met with their counterparts for a bilateral meeting at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Berlin. The aim of the meeting was to raise public awareness, hold an exchange of ideas on the implementation of the funds in both EU Member States and present the interim results after the first funding rounds. Representatives from the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the FEAD monitoring committee also took part in the discussions. The event focussed particularly on dealing with discrimination.
Lukas Welz of the Hildegard Lagrenne Foundation presented examples showing that people with a Roma background in particular often experience discrimination and exclusion.
Anti-discrimination trainer Christoph Leucht presented the FEAD's plan and its approach to combating discrimination. His anti-discrimination workshops in the FEAD aim to raise awareness of the issue of discrimination and how to deal with it both among those who implement projects and among public institutions and to ensure that the topic is on their agenda.
Discrimination begins with unquestioned stereotypes explained Christoph Leucht, adding that recognising and changing this was an important objective of the anti-discrimination workshops. He stated:
People who come to us from other EU Member States are often well educated and generally integrated into the very different sectors of our labour market. He went on to say that those particularly affected by poverty and exclusion, while shaping the public image, represent a minority. He showed participants what discrimination feels like and what approaches can be taken to avoid it.
Germany and Sweden are among the four EU Member States that have chosen the Operational Programme II in the national implementation of the EU Fund. This means that people at risk of or affected by poverty and exclusion are not given material support, but are empowered to improve their living conditions through counselling and support. On the second day, during a visit to the MOBI-Berlin project, the participants experienced concrete implementation at the project level and talked with counsellors about the challenges and successes of day-to-day work.