On 16 September 2020, on the occasion of her State of the Union Address, President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new EU Anti-Racism Action Plan that sets out a series of concrete measures for the next 5 years.
The Commission will ensure a tougher enforcement of relevant EU law and will not “shy away” from further strengthening the legal framework, as mentioned by Commission’s Vice-President Vera Jourova at a press conference today where they launched the Action Plan. It came as a surprise to most anti-racist actors in the EU that the Action Plan mentions that this could happen in particular in the areas not yet covered by the non-discrimination legislation, such as law enforcement. Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup believes that the review of existing legislation such as Racial Equality Directive and Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia, with clear aims, i.e. proposing new legislation to close the gaps and launching new infringement procedures, finally shows a true commitment.
Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, said: “We must all strive for our societies to be anti-racist. With this action plan, we acknowledge that racism is not only perpetrated by individuals but is also structural. Therefore, we need to address it at all levels of governance to turn the tide“.
Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup welcomes the fact that for the first time, the EU addresses structural racism in the European Union true an EU-wide policy.
There are a number of positive proposals in the action plan, many of them also reflect the proposals shared by the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup Bureau Members during several meetings held with President von der Leyen and Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli earlier this year:
- The Commission will organise a summit against racism with the involvement of EU Institutions, Member States, civil society, equality bodies and grassroots organisations;
- The Commission will appoint a coordinator for anti-racism;
- The European Commission will take concrete steps to significantly improve the representativeness of Commission staff through measures targeting recruitment and selection;
- Ensure that the legislative framework on AI will specifically address the risk of bias and discrimination built into AI systems;
- Combat racism and discrimination in other areas, such as access to education;
- The Commission encourages Member States to implement EU policies and legislation including by adopting national action plans against racism, and to regularly report on the implementation.
ARDI members are committed and will answer positively to the Commission invitation to the European Parliament to “regularly discuss and support the implementation of the Action Plan”.
MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana said, “I am very pleased that our call for an Anti-Racism Coordinator has been answered. I feel that we are moving closer towards ‘a truly anti-racist union’ and we must keep this momentum to ensure that we reach our common goal.”
ARDI Co-President Samira Rafaela defines the European Commission launch of the action plan against racism as “an important and underestimated signal from this European institution”: “I am proud of the commitment of, among other things, the anti-racism and diversity intergroup and the European Parliament that have committed themselves to raising awareness around structural racism in Europe. Sometimes it’s tiring to keep repeating it all the time, but I have to honestly admit that the launch of this plan gives me more hope and a little more reassurance. It’s time to go through now. Member States must bear their responsibility. Civil society and local representatives must be closely involved. But our own EU institutions also need to become more diverse and inclusive. All things the European Commission will be betting on and much more.”
“Today is a historical moment for Europe. This is the first time the EU is truly developing a framework to live up to its motto ‘United in diversity'”, points out ARDI Vice-President Hilde Vautmans.