Remarks by Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Dalli at the press conference on the EU anti-racism action plan

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC) i, gepubliceerd op vrijdag 18 september 2020.

Speaking points for the press conference on the EU anti-racism Action Plan

Vice-President Jourová

18 September 2020

Good afternoon.

Today I am pleased to stand in front of you with my fellow Commissioner Helena Dalli.

And to tell you that we are stepping up our work to fight racism in the European Union.

As President Von der Leyen underlined to you, we know that progress to fight racism and hate in Europe is not good enough.

We have reached a moment of reckoning.

We have seen the anger culminate in global protests across the world, including in Europe.

Not for the first time, and likely not the last.

But we hope with time, and more effort, we can change the tide in Europe.

The Action Plan we are proposing today is a step in this direction.

First, this is not the first time we are addressing racism in the EU.

Discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin is prohibited in the EU.

We have a legal framework in place;

A Racial Equality Directive;

Legislation to combat hate speech;

To support employment equality,

And to protect the victims of crime.

We will conduct a thorough fitness check if this framework is sufficient for today's reality. And we will very strictly enforce it.

In this context, we will also propose a new law that will ensure that the equality bodies, which were established to protect us from discrimination, have clear roles, can efficiently play their role and are independent.

We will improve our dialogue with members from the communities and we will set up a new structure for coordination with stakeholders.

We'll appoint for the first time an anti-racism coordinator who will closely liaise with people from minority groups and interact with our partners.

And we will call a big anti-Racism Summit next year.

But yes, we also need to look closer to home.

This is my third point: diversity in the Commission is not good enough.

Diversity in the European Institutions is not good enough.

We will address it by adapting our recruiting policies to provide more opportunities in EU institutions.

Lastly, as we recognise where we, as European policy-makers - need to do more, we want Member States to do the same.

With national action plans against racism and against racial discrimination.

And we want business to play their part and show leadership in driving diversity in the business sector.

By agreeing to do more and setting out how you will do more, we can measure progress and determine where we still need to act.

Thank you for listening today.

It is time we stopped talking about why we need to act.

It is time to act.

Speaking points for the press conference on the EU anti-racism Action Plan

Commissioner Dalli

18 September 2020

Good afternoon,

Nobody is born racist. It is not a characteristic, which we are born with. So it is a question of nurture, and not nature. And this action plan, together with the legislation which is already in place, is aimed to reverse this. To reverse what we have nurtured in our children, in our societies. We have to unlearn what we have learnt.

I am really thankful to the President for creating the space, for the adoption of this action plan, because we really have a lot of work to do.

I am not saying it is easy to unlearn how to behave; how we have learnt how to behave. One of the biggest hurdles I see, and which we are addressing in this action plan, are the stereotypes. For instance, we more or less have a picture in mind of what a “delinquent” looks like. But if you are a police officer this will create problems for others, as we have seen. Perception becomes reality, because we act upon that perception. It is that perception of others that makes us racist.

That is why racism, we insist here, needs to be addressed in national curriculums. We start with micro aggression, unconscious bias. When you see 2 year olds, they haven't become racist yet. But once they become part of society, once they grow older and are in school, once they listen to their parents and friends saying - they become racist. So national curriculum is of the essence. We must start at the very roots of the problem.

I can say that concerns shared by European citizens, as represented by civil society and by MEPs, are reflected in this action plan. We were very close and connected to these European Union societies, when we were compiling this action plan. Because it is about our citizens. We therefore listened to our citizens and this this action plan is representative of what we learnt from them. This is an anti-racism action plan and I stress “anti-racism” - and it is in the title “EU anti-racism action plan” - because saying that we are not racist is not enough.

We have to be actively anti-racist. Not just be complacent and say, whenever the discussion crops up, we say “I am not a racist”. No, we must be “anti-racist”, not just “not a racist”.

As Vice-President Jourová pointed out, charity begins at home, so we must have greater diversity of employees in this institution, which will better reflect European diversity. The action plan is addressing this. When we speak about racism, it is not something we think is happening in our societies or that we have a hunch about it. No, there are various studies which point to the state of play.

In fact, the Fundamental Rights Agency surveys show us, major discrepancies on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin persist in the European Union, with racial and ethnic minorities reporting high levels of discrimination.

I would say again, this despite the good legislation that we have already in place.

This is why, this action plan contains a number of far reaching measures intended to address the daily discriminations that racial and ethnic minorities experience and also change our collective attitude from a passive to an active one.

We need to collectively become anti-racist.

We need a societal shift.

We need to address micro aggressions, like we need to address structural racism and discrimination.

The action plan makes clear that we will do our utmost to ensure the full and correct implementation of existing legislation.

We will expand the legislation on equality bodies to ensure their independence and give them stronger tools for intervention.

We need to ensure that policing is fair and no discriminatory profiling takes place.

We also need to address under-reporting of hate incidents, and address security gaps.

We will tackle the challenges posed by new technologies such as those relative to artificial intelligence.

We will also intervene in the different spheres of life, whether it is employment, education, health or housing.

In order to challenge structural racism and do our utmost to eliminate it, we will combat stereotypes and raise awareness about history.

We will continue to gather data on the experience of discrimination on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin, and expand our research base as necessary.

We will support action at the national, regional and local level.

National action plans tackling racism and xenophobia are of the essence.

I will therefore work with all Member States to ensure that they all have one - that they all have an action plan.

We will also support cities and municipalities, and will launch an annual designation of European Capital of Inclusion and Diversity.

We have set up a Task Force for Equality to mainstream equality across all of the European Commission's outputs.

We will recruit a Coordinator for Anti-Racism and hold a Summit Against Racism to coincide with the coming year's International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

We are also taking an introspective look within the Commission services and will be working to ensure that our staff is reflective of society in its diversity.

We will therefore introduce positive action measures to address current gaps.

These are only some of the key measures contained in the action plan to deliver on our promise to leave no-one behind.

I thank you.