8 April 2015


The Advisory Council on Youth of the Council of Europe[1], representing young people in the member states of the Council Europe, takes the opportunity of International Roma Day to send its best wishes to all Roma. On this day, we celebrate Romani culture and heritage and value their contribution to our societies.

Our celebrations are accompanied by grave concerns regarding the difficult situations faced by many Roma in Europe today, including many young people. Young Roma people have been facing a wide range of discrimination that continually hinders their access to rights and their participation in society. Antigypsyism as a specific form of racism towards the Roma people has been the main factor of enabling these conditions and preventing the young people from learning and developing their potential.

European Roma people are considered to be younger than the EU average. As shown in a EU study on the Roma community and health coordinated by Fundacion Secretariado Gitano, while the people of 15-29 age make up to 19.29 per cent of the population, among Roma this number is 26.73 per cent and in several countries even above 30 per cent.  Therefore it is crucial that we all take appropriate actions for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and racism towards this considerable portion of European young people.

The youth sector of the Council of Europe has associated young Roma to its policy and work for intercultural dialogue and human rights education for more than a decade. In the past few years, the Council of Europe has initiated the Roma Youth Action Plan with a focus of addressing the challenges of young Roma in Europe in relation to their empowerment, participation, and multiple realities of discrimination.

We call upon European regional and local authorities and youth structures to support the efforts of young Roma to improve European youth and Roma policies, and to initiate pilot programmes and initiatives by creating spaces, means and tools for participation of young Roma as full citizens.

We encourage the European Youth Forum and National Youth Councils to further explore possibilities of enabling Roma youth participation in their activities and structures in order to truly reflect the needs of all young people at European and national level.  

The Advisory Council on Youth remains committed to supporting the full participation and integration of Roma youth in Council of Europe member states.

On behalf of the Advisory Council on Youth

Paulo Pinheiro,


[1] The Advisory Council on Youth is part of the co-management structure of the youth sector of the Council of Europe and is made up of representatives of youth NGOs and networks that provide opinions and input on all youth sector activities. Together with the government representatives responsible for youth matters (The European Steering Committee for Youth) they come together in a co-decision body (The Joint Council on Youth) where the youth sector’s priorities, objectives and budget are established.