Dear First Vice-President Frans Timmermans,
I am approaching you in your role as First Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for fundamental rights in regards to the lack of engagement by the European Commission on the topic of Afrophobia. This last manifested in the lack of engagement of the response of Commissioner Věra Jourová to decline patronage for the People of African Descent Week in the European Parliament (upcoming 13-17th May 2018). I would also like to express my concern and disappointment regarding the omission of the majority of paragraphs on Afrophobia in Commissioner Jourová’s speech at the last European Commission High Level Group on Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. The leadership shown by Commissioner Jourova, responsible for minority groups, in response to growing Afrophobia is worrying given the rise of far right, racist/xenophobic and populist parties as well as terrorist attacks like the one in my own country targeting People of African Descent.
It is estimated that there are 15 million Black Europeans and People of African Descent in Europe. Black Europeans and People of African descent are one of the largest and youngest, growing minorities in Europe.
Afrophobia or Anti-Black racism is a specific form of racism that refers to any act of violence or discrimination, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and leading to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African descent. This is documented in the results of the Second EU MIDIS study by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, in which it is noted that people of African Descent are amongst the most discriminated in Europe. An upcoming report by the FRA entitled ‘Being Black in the EU’ will further document this situation.
Across various indicators such as education, health, criminal justice and employment, Black Europeans and People of African Descent are often the most discriminated against, yet there is a lack of a public and policy debate on their specific situation. Discrimination in employment is prevalent and structural barriers persist at every stage preventing Black Europeans and People of African Descent from gaining employment that matches their skills and experience. They are also particularly exposed to police violence, racial profiling, as well as racist violence and abuse from other members of the public.
There is currently no specific EU policy to combat racism and discrimination against Black Europeans and People of African Descent. There is no coordinator to combat Afrophobia or unit for Black Europeans and People of African Descent in comparison to the European Commission Coordinators on anti-Muslim hatred and anti-Semitism as well as a specific unit for Roma. I would like to reiterate my closing statement from my intervention at the High Level Group where I said, “Equality for some is not equality for all.” The European Commission should be pursing an ambitious anti-racism and discrimination strategy that ensures protection and support for all communities in vulnerable situations. Different forms of racism may manifest differently and have different causes and roots but they deserve equal attention from the European Commission. I am not asking for special measures for Black Europeans and People of African Descent, rather I am asking that Black Europeans and People of African Descent as well as other groups are granted the same level of respect, attention and protections that are in place for Muslims, Jews and Roma.
Therefore, I call on you as the First Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for fundamental rights to take action regarding my requests and address concerns relating to Commissioner Jourová that I outlined at the beginning. Specifically, I ask that you ensure the patronage and presence of a European Commissioner at the upcoming People of African Descent Week in the European Parliament.
I would be happy to discuss this issue of concern with you and would like to request a meeting with you and civil society experts to discuss the European Commission’s efforts to tackle racism, discrimination and other forms of intolerance and in particular Afrophobia.