ARDI launch: Together against racism
On 26th January the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI) was launched with an event on the theme “Together against racism.” The event was hosted by the members of the ARDI Bureau and guest speakers included Mr Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights as well as Ms Sarah Isal, Chair of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).
At the launch, ARDI Co-President Cécile Kashetu Kyenge introduced ARDI’s bureau for the European Parliament mandate 2014-2019 as well its political priorities and working groups. Ms Kyenge also explained that the European Parliament showed its commitment to fighting racism by selecting ARDI as one of the 28 Intergroups and that this has been reinforced by ARDI having MEPs from almost all political groups who have come together to promote racial equality, counter racism, and educate about non-discrimination in the work of the European Parliament.
During the different panels, speakers stressed that racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.
A significant part of the discussion focused on the particular gravity of the current situation in light of the terrorist attacks in 2015 and the so called “refugee crisis.” Many of the speakers alluded to the fact that these events have created new opportunities for xenophobic and racist groups (some political parties) to push their racist and xenophobic agenda.
A key theme throughout the event was the need for a strong political leadership and a holistic approach including Member States, EU institutions, agencies and civil society organisations to fighting racism and xenophobia.
First Vice-President of the European Union Commission Frans Timmermans said: “I really welcome ARDI. To truly tackle racism, we all need to speak out and confront uncomfortable truths. The group has an important role to play in promoting diversity and fighting dehumanisation.”
EU Fundamental Rights Agency Director Michael O’Flaherty said: “Racism remains persistent in our societies. This is particularly worrying as Europe grapples with the issues related to its growing diversity and migrants. The response by politicians can play a key role in combatting racism. That is why the launch of the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup in the European Parliament is so important.”