A Union of equality: EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025

EESC opinion: A Union of equality: EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025

Key points


  • welcomes the EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025 put forward by the European Commission and hopes it will help both the EU and Member State institutions to renew their efforts in combating racism and other forms of structural discrimination;
  • underlines that the Plan is relevant and timely. Indeed the unfolding of the COVID-19 epidemiological crisis has created new challenges with regard to inclusion and promotion of diversity. In times of crisis, discriminatory attitudes and actions tend to become more prevalent;
  • emphasises that even prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the situation of minorities and vulnerable groups in the EU was deteriorating. Anti-migrant attitudes became more widespread, pushed forward by electorally driven leaders and parties instigating anti-Muslim, anti-African and anti-Asian sentiments. Historical minorities such as the Roma increasingly became targets of racially motivated hatred. The Jewish population in Europe became less and less safe;
  • stresses that, while the Plan brings together all available instruments, at times it seems to lack ambition and historical depth, and its approach is too prudent, while the situation on the ground is deteriorating fast;
  • emphasises that action to combat discrimination, racism, xenophobia and other types of intolerance at European level is a clear responsibility enshrined in the founding documents of the EU. It is not optional;
  • supports the drafting of new legislation to strengthen the role of national equality bodies;
  • encourages the Council to adopt the Commission's 2008 proposal for the implementation of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
  • calls for a comprehensive assessment of the implementation of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law;
  • calls for a stronger emphasis to be placed on the organised spread of hate speech, including in the online space, and on dealing with it accordingly;
  • reminds that in the last decade we have seen a significant number of groups and organisations openly assuming ideas, symbols and actions originating in European interwar fascism, and calls for this new mobilisation to be dealt with accordingly, not only through legislative and punitive actions, but also through direct and decisive actions addressing the root causes of right-wing radicalisation;
  • underlines that the historical roots of racism should be subject to renewed interest and action, especially in the area of education. New curricula and new textbooks should be developed and training programmes for teachers and educators should be organised with EU support;
  • joins the Commission in encouraging all Member States to develop and adopt national action plans against racism and racial discrimination.