Saturday

10th Apr 2021

EU to have first-ever anti-racism coordinator

  • Demostrators take the streets of Brussels in June, following the brutal US police killing of George Floyd (Photo: EUobserver)

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced on Wednesday (16 September) the priorities for the EU's upcoming anti-racism action plan.

Earlier this year, the murder of George Floyd in the US brought into focus racial discrimination and police brutality also existing in Europe.

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

Now the commission wants to identify gaps in the bloc's 2000 Race Equality Directive, especially regarding policing and law enforcement.

"Hate is hate and no one should have to put up with it," von der Leyen said in her first State of the Union speech, adding that in the European Union "fighting racism will never be optional".

The head of the EU executive pledged to use the EU budget to tackle racial discrimination in areas such as education, employment, housing to healthcare - aiming to tackle "unconscious bias" in people, institutions and even in algorithms that regulate the internet.

Additionally, Brussels seeks to extend the list of EU crimes to add all forms of hate crime and hate speech based on race, religion, gender or sexuality.

And the commission will have its first-ever anti-racism coordinator, who will be in charge of keeping the issue at the top of the agenda.

The European Parliament's Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) welcome the commission's decision to "break the silence and contribute to recognising structural racism in the EU".

But MEP Peter Pollak, who is a member of ARDI, said that it is a "pity" that such an action plan is needed.

'Not enough'

Fellow ARDI MEP Hilde Vautmans said that the upcoming action plan should reflect Europe's "ambition to move beyond statements," containing clear and measurable goals, as well as concrete actions.

For her part, MEP Alice Kuhnke warned that "an action plan is nothing without concrete legislative proposals".

"The times of magnificent words are over. Every politician, parliament and government has to do its utmost to combat racism and other forms of discrimination," she told EUobserver.

Kuhnke said the anti-racism action plan must include a concrete strategy to unblock the directive on equal treatment, which has been stuck in the European Council since 2008 - leaving the bloc without an EU law on discrimination outside of the workplace.

While figures from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency show that one in every three citizen of African descent has suffered racist discrimination, only 15 out of 27 EU member states have specific strategies to combat racism and ethnic discrimination.

The new action plan will call on EU governments to put in place anti-racism action plans by the end of 2022.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Column

Meghan Markle, royal racism and the 'European Way of Life'

For years, the EU's "united in diversity" motto has allowed policymakers to claim that conversations on race, religion, colour and ethnicity are foreign to European culture. But a colour-blind Europe is a fairy tale.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us