EU Roma Week 2019: SDGs are closely linked to the needs of Roma communities


The fourth EU Roma Week took place from 18-21 March 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. The week was jointly orgnaised by several Members of the European Parliament as well as, the EU Commission and the UN Human Rights Office in Brussels and civil society organisations.

Some of the Roma Week events included:

A panel discussion on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a tool to support the fight against anti-Gypsyism and how to use the 2030 Agenda for Roma inclusion.

The conference on ‘Creating trust through uncovering and recognising the truth: Advancing recognition and remedy for anti-Gypsyism’.

Complementing this was the ERGO Network Discussion paper ‘ROMA INCLUDED: Can the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contribute to combatting anti-Gypsyism?’, which seeks to trigger the debate on what opportunities SDGs can provide for advancing the inclusion of Roma and for countering anti-Gypsyism. The paper highlights that the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’) are highly relevant for Roma as young Roma often leave school before finishing upper secondary or vocational education (especially women) and do not have access to early childhood education and care. Therefore, the emphasis of this Goal in regards to Roma ethnicity should be put on gender and youth, and key issues such as, lack of literacy and numerical skills. The paper concludes that SDGs should have a prominent place in the new EU Roma Framework post-2020, both as policy goals and means of measurement.

ETUCE member organisations have been raising the issues of early school leaving and segregation among Roma students for many years. In the view of achieving SDGs not only on education but also on eliminating poverty, employment, and other key targets, ETUCE demands from the EU member states to ensure that Roma children receive high-quality teaching, with a focus on early-childhood education, to prioritise measures to combat anti-Gypsyism in education, and to prevent labour discrimination and lower employment prospects which result in poorer jobs with less job security, benefits and pay.