The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has called on the European Union and the Member States to take a holistic approach to promoting diversity and inclusiveness in their societies and to step up legal and political efforts to tackle rising racism and xenophobia in Europe.

With the volume of attacks and hate speech directed at migrants and ethnic minorities on the rise, and with the current pandemic exacerbating the structural discrimination they face, the EU urgently needs to do more on this front, including by promoting diversity management.

The EESC set out its proposals on this matter in its opinion on Diversity management in the EU Member States, requested by the German EU presidency. In preparing its opinion, the EESC conducted case studies in four countries – Finland, France, Italy and Poland – representing four different parts of Europe. The results were presented in the opinion and its appendix.

The case studies revealed that migrant workers were concentrated in low-paid and precarious employment in all four countries, the most extreme situation being in Italy, followed by France, and with Poland trending in the same direction. Women of colour experience the highest rates of employment discrimination in all four countries, compared to white Europeans and men of the same ethnic groups. In all four countries, Roma remain the minority facing the highest degree of marginalisation.

The opinion was drafted by the EESC's former Polish member Adam Rogalewski and presented by Carlos Trindade, rapporteur-general, at the October plenary session.

"COVID-19 is exacerbating structural racism in Europe. Ethnic minorities and migrants not only face greater exposure to the disease but are at greater risk of associated inequalities from the economic and social fallout, and are less likely to be supported," Mr Trindade noted.

"Fighting structural racism across all institutions requires social justice for ethnic minorities and migrants," Mr Trindade stressed, adding that the EESC called on the EU and the Member States to increase their legal and political efforts to tackle racism and xenophobia.

In the opinion, the EESC argues that sound diversity management should focus on all aspects of the work and daily lives of migrants and ethnic minorities. This includes how they are treated in the workplace, their education and access to public services, their social rights and their integration into local communities. (ll)