The first European Anti-Racism Summit, organised on 19 March, was co-hosted by the European Commission, the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Anti-Racism and Diversity (ARDI) Intergroup of the European Parliament. It addressed the implementation of the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 (hereinafter “the Action Plan”), adopted by the European Commission in September 2020 and that establishes a series of measures to tackle racism and racial discrimination covering a wide range of policy areas.
Antigypsyism is acknowledged as a particular form of racism in the Action Plan and was largely addressed at the Summit. All too often, racial or ethnic origin is used as a ground to discriminate- the COVID-19 pandemic has been one example where blame has been unjustly directed at people with a minority racial or ethnic background. Roma people also suffer from intolerance. The Action Plan acknowledges that racism comes in different forms and looks at it not only when it manifests as individual episodes of hate crime or discrimination but also in its structural forms.
The Summit and the Action Plan show that the fight against racism is on the EU and national political agendas. The fight against racism is also part of the future National Strategies for Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
European Anti-Racism Summit
The primary objective of the high-level Summit was to send a strong signal against racism at the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and to lay the groundwork for future cooperation on developing concrete conditions for implementation of the EU antiracism agenda. To this end, it brought together representatives of the EU institutions, Member States, equality bodies, civil society and international organisations and numerous key stakeholders.
The Summit was introduced by several testimonies of representatives of civil society and activists who shared their stories and identify what are the most urgent actions to be taken on different levels – local, regional and national as well as European. Two high-level panel discussions followed:
- The European Anti-Racism Action Plan – from words to action
Discussions focused on the causes and forms of structural racism in the European Union as well as effective solutions. For example, in order to tackle structural racism, the Anti-Racism Action Plan calls upon all national governments to develop and adopt national anti-racism action plans by the end of 2022. Other measures proposed by the Action Plan include addressing racial and ethnic stereotypes in cooperation with the media, engagement in remembrance activities, as an important part of encouraging inclusion and common understanding or ensuring a consistent approach on equality data collection, in particular as regards data disaggregated by racial or ethnic origin.
- Tackling racism and racial discrimination through legislation
Discussions in this panel was two pronged with a focus on:
- The existing legislation in combating racial discrimination (including the Racial Equality Directive (2000/43/EC) and the 2008 Council Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia) as well as on the effective enforcement of the European legal framework aiming to ensure that individual rights and obligations are respected in practice; and
- The exploration of future legislation augmenting the powers of equality bodies to affirm the right to anti-discrimination and possible legislation in the area of law enforcement
Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency of the European Commission, in the closing remarks, summarised some of the ideas of the Summit, stating that “the most effective approach to address structural racism is the one which combines targeted measures and equality mainstreaming into all EU and national policies, legislation, indeed properly enforced, and funding programmes. Intersectional perspective is also needed to deepen the understanding of structural racism and to make the responses more effective”.
The Summit was followed by a launch event for the new Subgroup on the national implementation of the EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025 in charge of designing guiding principles to set the best conditions for the implementation of action plans by the end of this year.
Mobilisation of EU Funds
EU Funds, including European Cohesion Funds, are crucial for the implementation of the Anti-Racism Action Plan and equality objectives at a whole. The next multi-annual financial framework (MFF) provides a number of important opportunities to support non-discrimination and people with a minority racial or ethnic background through EU funding. In the 2021-2027 programming period, EU funds will support Member States’ efforts to promote social inclusion by ensuring equal opportunities for all and tackling discrimination. EU funds will promote infrastructure development and equal access to the labour market, health- and social care, housing and high quality, non-segregated and inclusive services in education and training, for all, in particular for disadvantaged groups.
Other funds will also contribute to support investments that promote equality and inclusion. As part of Next Generation EU, the new Recovery and Resilience Facility will support investments and reforms essential to a lasting recovery and foster economic and social resilience and social cohesion. This support will give possibilities to Member States to foster the inclusion of vulnerable groups, including Roma and other people with a minority racial or ethnic background.
As most of the EU budget is implemented by Member States, they have a key role in designing targeted policies and maximising the use of funding programmes to support those affected by racism and discrimination. Member States are invited to address these needs in using funds under the MFF and Next Generation EU.
The Commission will aim to ensure that country-specific challenges in the area of inclusion and discrimination are properly addressed in the forthcoming partnership agreements and common agricultural policy plans, and that measures promoting equality and inclusion are implemented via operational programmes. This is also supported by the enabling conditions applicable to specific EU funds in 2021- 2027 proposed by the Commission aiming to ensure respect for fundamental rights, including non-discrimination as well as Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
- European Anti-Racism Summit 2021
- EU Anti-racism Action Plan 2020-2025
- Basic legislation on non-discrimination and hate crimes