30th Sep 2022

Anti-racism NGOs say intercultural dialogue money not well spent

European anti-racism NGOs have criticised the European Commission for giving money to activities during the European year of intercultural dialogue to EU governments, rather than to those who work directly to help minority communities.

"If the European Commission wanted multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue, it should have given at least half of the money to NGOs who interact with the very people they want to create a dialogue with," Bashy Quraishy, president of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) told Euobserver.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The organisation groups over 600 NGOs working to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in all 27 EU member states.

According to the Indian-born, Pakistani-raised Dane, if each country chooses to spend the EU money according to its own definition of 'intercultural dialogue', the targetted minorities stand little chance of being involved in dialogue with the majority communities.

He targetted his home country Denmark for criticism: "The Danish government does not believe in interculturalism, they believe in Danish culture. The government did not invite a single local NGO to discuss the activities for the year," said Mr Quraishy.

Nonetheless, he praised the European Commission for its initiative, underlining that any focus on the sensitive issue of multiculturalism is valuable and that Brussels has been much bolder than member states on this issue.

However, EU policy makers should have required governments to spend the money according to an agreed definition of the words 'multiculturalism' and 'intercultural dialogue' before handing out the cash, he continued.

"The commission should have said: 'By interculturalism we mean that majorities with all their resources and money interact with minorities who do not have those things'. Ask them [the minorities] what kind of activities they want in the 'intercultural dialogue' programme. Their picture is completely different from that of the governments," Mr Quraishy said.

"My biggest concern is that this kind of year, like last year, which was the year of 'equal opportunities', becomes a symbolic gesture; talking and exchanging smiles and pleasant words," he concluded.

A small cake to share

The European year of intercultural dialogue has a budget of €10 million, plus money from EU capitals, to be spent on seven flagship multi-European projects and 27 national projects involving culture, education, youth, sport and citizenship.

It aims to encourage understanding, tolerance, solidarity and a sense of common destiny among people of all origins and cultures in Europe.

Out of the €10 million grant from Brussels, 40 percent is dedicated to campaigning and other public relations work for the year. Another third is directly invested in co-financing trans-country projects, leaving only €2.4 million, split between European capitals, to be freely allocated.

"There is incredibly little money to share after you have divided it amongst 27 member states to begin with," a Brussels culture attaché involved in the year's planning said, explaining that the administrative burden in splitting such small sums between not only governments but also NGOs would simply not be worth while.

"It seems reasonable that the commission gives the money to governments to handle, considering they are also supposed to counter with money from their own state coffers to finance the different projects," the attaché continued.

He said several countries had been sceptical of spending such large amounts on media campaigns and other PR work, and would rather have seen the money invested directly into concrete activities around the theme of intercultural dialogue.

"There was a divide between countries who wanted to spend more on 'emblematic projects' to raise profile, and those who wanted to allocate more money among governments and projects," he explained.

EU launches campaign for intercultural dialogue

To foster better understanding and communication between the diverse crowd that makes up European citizens, Brussels has launched a media campaign about its forthcoming "Year of intercultural Dialogue."


Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy

EUobserver spoke with several business figures and all confirmed they voted for Georgia Meloni's Brothers of Italy because it promised stability, less bureaucracy and tax cuts. Matteo Salvini's anti-EU rhetoric scared them, while they trust Meloni has "more common sense".

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  2. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  3. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  4. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  5. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  6. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other
  7. Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?
  8. The European shipping giants plying Putin's fossil-fuels trade

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us