Roma Fellowship Program in Bulgaria:
The United States Embassy in Sofia in conjunction with Open Society Institute - Sofia is happy to announce a round of applications for four internship positions in the Embassy in the summer of 2013.
The Roma Fellowship Program is open to Roma Bulgarians who are either enrolled at a university or have recently graduated. Depending on their specific choice of career, academic interests, and skills, the fellows will be placed in one of four sections in the Embassy for a period of ten weeks, starting at the end of June.
Combating Hate Speech Online
The EEA and Norway Grants have entered into a strategic partnership with the Council of Europe to promote tolerance and fundamental rights. Activities countering hatred are encouraged through the EEA NGO programmes.
During the last few years we have registered continued and renewed violations of fundamental rights, including physical and verbal attacks on minority groups, migrants, and on organisations defending human rights in Europe.
To address these concerns, the EEA and Norway Grants have joined forces with the Council of Europe and support the No Hate Speech Movement. This campaign against hate speech online starts on 22 March 2013 and will run through to 2014.
Is There a Threat of Bulgarian Migration Influx to the UK?
Bulgaria and Romania entered international news in the past month as British politicians and popular media started to worry about influx of Bulgarian migrants after 2014. After January 1, 2014 Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will have full access to the labor market in the UK after the last transition periods barring them would have expired.
However, the concerns, heated debates and alleged fear were rarely, if at all, backed up by numbers and data. In order to fill in the gap of informed debate, OSI-Sofia has compiled highlights from its several studies on Bulgaria’s migration trends conducted over the years.
First Open Call for Proposals under the NGO Programme in Bulgaria launched
Programme operator OSI – Sofia in partnership with Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation announces the First Open Call for Proposals for the NGO Programme for Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism 2009 – 2014.
Eligible applicants will have two months to develop and submit project proposals in the following thematic areas: "Democracy, human rights and good governance", "Social inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups", "Sustainable development and protection of the environment", "Capacity building for NGOs". The text of the call and the detailed Guidelines for Applicants are published on the website of the Programme.
Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?
The crisis has set in motion fundamental changes in Europe and the markings are already visible as registered by the findings of the new European Catch-Up Index, exposing and deepening divergences in Europe but at the same time creating new patterns of convergence and models of a "multispeed Europe".
The report "Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe?" is based on the second edition of the Catch-Up Index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries – the EU member states, the candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance, measured by 47 indicators, with scores from 100-0 (highest to lowest) and rankings from 1-35 (highest to lowest).
Bulgaria in the New European Catch-Up Index
Six years after its accession into the EU, Bulgaria continues to substantially lag behind in the process of catching-up with the more developed countries in Europe according to the new report on the findings of the new European Catch-Up Index. Bulgaria is at the bottom of the overall ranking among the EU member states as well as in the four categories of the index: Economy, Democracy, Quality of Life and Governance. In some indicators of Quality of Life, the country falls behind neighboring countries such as Serbia and Montenegro, which are still candidate countries.
The report "Aftershocks: What Did the Crisis Do to Europe", released in January 2013, is based on the second edition of the Catch-Up Index, which measures and ranks the performance of 35 countries.
Workshop for Promotion of Partnership between
About 150 representatives of Bulgarian non-governmental organizations, together with representatives of 12 NGOs from Norway, took part in the bilateral workshop organized by the Open Society Institute in partnership with the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation. The workshop was conducted as part of the Annual Meeting for Sharing Good Practices on Partnership Development between Bulgarian NGOs and Organizations from the Donor States (Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland).
The participants in the workshop discussed possibilities for joint projects within the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. In the form of an open space discussion, they focused on possible partnerships under the four thematic areas of the Programme: Democracy, human rights and good governance; Social inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups; Sustainable development and protection of the environment; Capacity building for NGOs.
Minister Donchev: The State Has an Interest in an Active Civil Sector
"The state's deep interest lies in having a strong civil sector. The state could in no way do its best without an active control exerted by the third sector." This is what the EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev stated at the official launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. Minister Donchev reminded that the funding from the donor states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) during the current programme period was increased almost six times as compared to the previous period. "I believe that by means of this funding we will bring more energy into the civil sector", he added.
"The NGO Programme will adhere to the authentic agenda of the civil sector and will not impose on it any alternative agendas", Georgi Stoychev, Executive Director of the Open Society Institute stated on his part.
Official Launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria
Representatives of more than 400 non-governmental organizations registered for participation in the official launch of the NGO Programme in Bulgaria under the EEA Financial Mechanism. The total value of the Programme is 11 790 000 EUR provided by the donor states Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The funds will be used to support non-governmental organizations with the aim of promoting environment enabling their work, strengthening their capacity, and enhancing their contribution to the attainment of social justice, democracy and sustainable development.
The Programme Operator – the Open Society Institute – Sofia in partnership with Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation – has planned the organization of three open calls for project proposals in four thematic areas.
Bulgaria pioneers new approach to ranking universities
"Lessons from abroad: Bulgaria pioneers new approach to ranking universities". Under this title NBC News published a report by The Hechinger Report, devoted to higher education in Bulgaria and Ranking system of universities in the country.
"I think this is the most transparent and clearly structured university ranking system I’ve ever come across," said the late Cyrus Reed, former provost of the American University in Bulgaria. "It’s really a major step forward." According to Reed, the system as miles beyond the popular U.S. News & World Report rankings, because "in this case, they tell you exactly how they got it and they let you manipulate it yourself."
The NGO programme for Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism
The NGO programme for Bulgaria under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area 2009-2014 will be officially presented on September 12, 2012. This will take place in the Council of Ministers in the framework of the official opening of programmes for Bulgaria under the EEA and Norway Financial Mechanisms.
Worth ˆ 11.8 million provided by the donor-states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, the NGO Programme is one of the first approved programmes for Bulgaria. Funds have been earmarked to provide flexible and accessible funding to eligible NGOs, with the aim to foster an enabling environment for the sector, strengthen its capacity and enhance its contribution to social justice, democracy and sustainable development. At least 10 % of the total allocation to the programme will be allocated to children and youth driven organisations and/or activities targeting children and youth.
International terrorism hits Bulgaria
Bulgaria suffered its first international terrorist attack after a bus of Israeli tourists was bombed on July 18th, 2012, with a carnage leaving 7 dead and more than 30 wounded;
In the afternoon of July 18, 2012, Bulgaria suffered its first act of international terrorism. There was an explosion at 5:30 pm near a bus with Israeli tourists at the Burgas airport, shortly after their plane from Tel Aviv landed at 4:50 pm. The group was heading for a Black Sea resort. Seven people died and thirty two injured. The victims were 5 Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver (himself coming from a Bulgarian Muslim community) and the alleged perpetrator.
AFP: Bulgaria, Romania Romas better integrated in Spain - study
Roma from Bulgaria and Romania, often isolated in their own countries, integrate well in Spain and to a lesser degree in Italy, a new study showed Thursday, praising Spain's successful policies.
The report by the Open Society institute found that 53 percent of Bulgarian Romas who had emigrated to Spain were employed, whereas at home the majority were jobless.
"Tolerance and sustainable integration policies, notably in Spain, lead to the successful integration of Romas," Georgy Stoichev, head of Open Society's Bulgarian branch, told a press conference Thursday, quoted by AFP.
Coping with the Global Economic Crisis:
The 2009/2010 global economic crisis hit Bulgarian families mainly through the labor market, increasing unemployment and reducing working hours and wages for a large segment of the population. While the crisis led to a significant drop of GDP in 2009, Bulgaria was able to mitigate the most severe impact of the crisis on the standard of living of families, thanks to an adequate social protection policy. These are some of the conclusions in the World Bank latest report "Bulgaria: Household Welfare during the 2010 Recession and Recovery" presented today.
State of the Union: Findings of the European Catch-Up Index
The economic and financial crisis of Europe, as serious as it is, is not the ultimate or even the defining threat to the European project – it is only one of its faces, according to a new report by the Open Society Institute – Sofia.
The report is based on the newly released Catch-Up Index that measures the performance of 35 countries – the EU member states, the candidate and potential candidate countries across four categories: Economy, Quality of Life, Democracy and Governance. Each category is measured by 47 indicators using standardized scores from 0 to 100 (lowest to highest), allowing for further observations and analysis to be made.