Discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity is prohibited in the European Union. The September 2020 Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions sets out the Union’s anti-racism strategy for 2020-2025.
The document states that discrimination persists in our society and, therefore, it is not enough to be against racism; we have to be active against it. It explains that racism damages society in different ways. Most directly, it means that many people living in Europe face discrimination, affecting their human dignity, their life opportunities, their prosperity and their well-being, and often also their personal safety.
The communication states that the EU is built on diversity and on fostering a society of pluralism, tolerance and non-discrimination.
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights has conducted a wide range of surveys pointing to high levels of discrimination in the EU. The surveys have also identified the areas of life where racial discrimination is felt most strongly. The survey data show that racial considerations influence the likelihood of being stopped by the police. Of the 14 % of the people surveyed who said the police had stopped them in the last year, 40 % perceived that the action was taken because of their ethnic origin or immigrant background.
The survey also pointed to the fact that hate-motivated violence and harassment often remain unreported. Among people of African descent, the 64 % of victims of racist violence did not report the incidents to the police or any other organisation or service.
The Commission will undertake a comprehensive assessment of the existing legal framework to determine how to improve implementation, whether it remains fit for purpose, and whether there are gaps to be filled.
The Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law aims to ensure that serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties throughout the EU.
The Commission will:
- Report on the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive in 2021.
- Present, by 2022, any legislation required to address shortcomings, including to strengthen the role and independence of equality bodies.
- Ensure a full and correct transposition and implementation of the Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia across the EU.
The Commission encourages the Member States to:
- Ensure that EU law is fully transposed and properly applied in Member States.
- Swiftly reach an agreement on the 2008 Commission proposal to implement equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.