On 6 December, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) revealed new findings about the situation of immigrants and minorities in the EU. The findings were presented at a high-level conference in Brussels and discussed with over 200 participants, including representatives of the European Commission, member states, cities, equality bodies, minority groups and employers.
The findings, resulting from a large survey (MIDIS II) with over 25,000 people with ethnic minority or immigrant backgrounds from all 28 EU member states, tell a chilling story of widespread discrimination across the EU. They paint a gloomy image of the situation of fundamental rights in the EU and give a wake-up call to the EU and member states.
- Immigrants and minority ethnic groups face widespread discrimination across the EU, which is a recurring and structural problem. Four out of 10 respondents (38%) felt discriminated against in the last five years and one in four (24%) experienced this in the last year. Almost a third of all respondents who looked for a job encountered discrimination. The main ground for discrimination is ethnic or immigrant background. 16% experienced discrimination when accessing public services in the last year and 22% over the past 5 years.
- Experiences of discrimination remain mostly unreported, due to fear or unawareness of rights or where to report. Only 12% of people who reported experiences of discrimination filed a complaint, showing that people do not feel safe to come forward to report discrimination. On the other hand, over 70% were not aware of any organisation that offers support or advice to discrimination victims.
- Despite facing many barriers to social inclusion, migrants and minorities feel strongly attached to the country they live in. The main barriers to social inclusion that immigrants and minority ethnic groups face across the EU member states are discrimination, lack of basic competences (e.g. language and/or education level) and barriers resulting from their legal status. Despite these barriers, the vast majority (77%) feel strongly attached to the country they live in and 67% strongly identify with it.
- When it comes to trust in public institutions, trust is local (municipal) authorities is highest among all target groups and countries. In many cases, the level of trust in local authorities is higher than that of the general population. Local authorities are closer to the citizens and engaged in their social integration and therefore trust is an important part of their work with the communities. High levels of trust were also shown in police and legal systems. However, trust declines among those who experienced discrimination, harassment or violence.
Commissioner Vera Jourova gave a keynote speech in which she deplored the high number of victims of discrimination and acknowledged that the tools currently at disposal have not delivered the expected results. She identified three areas to work on: a more determined political response, a better legal response and a stronger civil society and media response. She called on member states to adopt strong anti-discrimination laws and enforce them. The Commissioner stated that she will reopen the debate on the proposal for a horizontal directive on equal treatment in spring 2018. She said: “our success depends on our ability to combat deeply rooted prejudice. The challenge of discrimination and racism remain, but we must work together for a more equal society and combat racism and intolerance in Europe.”
Three panel debates were held with representatives of minority groups, duty bearers and policy makers. The main take-aways from the panel debates were:
- It is not enough to pass a national anti-discrimination law, but the law needs to be properly enforced. We also need an equal treatment directive to tackle discrimination horizontally, including on the labour market.
- The countries with the strongest anti-discrimination laws have the highest rates of reporting by discrimination victims.
- The most effective way to break prejudices and combat the politics of hate and fear is to bring people from different groups together and enable them to discuss and understand each other.
- We need a change in narrative to shed light on positive contributions by migrants and minorities to our societies and connect them to our European values.
- What to do next? Use the tools we have, monitor compliance by member states, extend anti-discrimination legislation where we need to, use funding for training on prevention of discrimination and, most importantly, work towards political leadership of this issue.
EUROCITIES joined the dialogue and voiced the key role of cities in migrant integration and Roma inclusion. Gdansk, one of the members in our CITIES Grow project, gave a strong example of how a city can put in place an integration policy despite the anti-immigrant discourse at national level.
Find out more here: http://bit.ly/2jNG6fk