human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Call for EU action to make SDGs a reality

A strategy on Sustainable Europe 2030 is urgent

As members of SDG Watch Europe and in response to the November 2020, European Commission’s Staff Working Document: “Delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – A comprehensive approach”, Caritas Europa stresses the importance for the Commission to take a fresh look at Agenda 2030 following the COVID-19 crisis and to relaunch the economy. It is vital not to resort to business as usual and the status quo prior to crisis.

We welcome the Commission’s reaffirmed commitment “to refocus the European Semester on integrating the SDGs”. However, the Staff Working Document merely provides an overview of existing initiatives. After five years since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted, we want to see real action on how to achieve them. What we need now is a roadmap, with concrete initiatives, action plans and an SDG implementation strategy with new ideas, clear political objectives, decision-making and adequate funding. This is vital given the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Europe and the world, and  given the need for a healthy recovery. We are convinced a strategised implementation of SDGs can contribute greatly to this.

SDG Watch Europe, therefore, calls upon on the European Commission to do the following:

  • Present a comprehensive strategy for a Sustainable Europe 2030, accompanied by a clear and policy coherent implementation plan. This strategy needs objectives, binding targets, measurable indicators, activities and a timeline to provide a clear way to operationalise EU engagement towards the SDGs.
  • Elaborate on how the EC will ensure accountability, responsibility and a whole of government approach on SDGs’ implementation. Set up clear coordination mechanisms within the College and the different Directorate Generals (DGs) of the European Commission. Integrate the SDGs formally into the different DGs’ work plans.
  • Link the Eurostat indicator set and report to a political process with a response from the EC on how it will adjust its action to reach the SDGs that are not progressing. Ensure meaningful participation and inclusion of civil society in the development of the indicator report.
  • Revitalise civil society and local authorities’ engagement on the SDGs by establishing a permanent, inclusive and truly participative civil society and stakeholder platform that has a broad definition of sustainability including all economic, social and environmental issues embedded in the SDGs.
  • Publish the internal reviews on SDG implementation. Make ex-ante assessments mandatory to each new initiative and revise or withdraw it following the precautionary principle when one initiative does not pass the sustainability impact assessment, .
  • Place the SDGs at the core of the European Semester cycle with 5 to 10 headline indicators that address the EU’s main sustainability challenges and establish an annual and multi-annual SDG monitoring and reporting cycle as a meaningful European Semester Cycle.

joint statement


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