Racism: a plague to be cured but where is doctor EU?

The EU has abdicated its responsibilities in the fight against racism


13 December 1995: Commission Communication on Racism, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism; 15 July 1996: Joint Action to Combat Racism and Xenophobia; 1997 European Year Against Racism; 2 June 1997: Establishment of the EUMC; 25 March 1998: Action Plan Against Racism; October 1999: Tampere Council summit: “European Council calls for the fight against racism and xenophobia to be stepped up”; 29 November 2001: Council proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia; December 2001: Laeken Declaration “Racism is on the rise”.


These key dates have marked the EU’s genuine political commitment to combat racism and xenophobia and highlighted the dynamic development of a coherent EU policy to combat racism and xenophobia.


2002-2004: What has happened since the Laeken summit? The EUMC and civil society continued to draw the attention of the general public and governments to the fact that racism is on the rise. Racist and xenophobic crimes continue to be reported daily. In fact, political parties openly developing a political programme based on racist and xenophobic propaganda have even become members of a number of government coalitions in Europe.


Paradoxically this evidence is totally ignored by European decision-makers who, since the Laeken Declaration, have steadily marginalised any EU action against racism on their political agenda by no longer condemning racism in the European Council Presidency conclusions. Discussions in the Convention on the Future of Europe about keeping the EU’s competence in justice and home affairs on combating racism and xenophobia have been extremely difficult. We are witnessing a total blockage in political negotiations regarding the proposed Framework Decision to combat racist and xenophobic crime. In fact, the agendas of both the Irish and Dutch Presidencies do not plan any action on this initiative, nor any alternative actions against racism in 2004. Finally, to complete this negative picture, the Council unexpectedly decided in December 2003 to “broaden” the mandate of the EUMC to become a general human rights agency.


Do European Decision-makers think that there is no racism anymore? Or do they think they’ve done their bit? Or worse: does that INDICATE to Europeans that it is ok to be racist?


The European Network against Racism, a Europe-wide network of more than 600 NGOs active in the field of combating racism and racial discrimination, denounces the collapse of the European Union’s commitment to combating racism.


The two Equality Directives are milestones in the EU’s policy to combat racism but are not an end-objective as such. A lot still needs to be done and the Council must assume its responsibilities to implement the Tampere objective to step up the fight against racism and xenophobia. Negotiations with a view to adopting the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia need to be restarted. Presidencies have the duty to keep the item high on their political agenda.


The EUMC was one of the major outcomes of the European Year Against Racism. It enhances the visibility of the European commitment to combat racism and xenophobia and, through its RAXEN network, it produces very valuable research and recommendations for the development of both EU and national policies to combat racism and xenophobia. By changing the focus of the EUMC, the issue of anti-racism is once again marginalised. Safeguards need to be given to preserve the resources, the focus and the visibility of the Centre’s actions against racism. “People have the right to expect the Union to address the threat to their freedom and legal rights posed by serious crime.”(Extract Tampere Conclusions)…AND RACISM IS A SERIOUS CRIME!





Contact for information: Anoush der Boghossian, Communication Officer, T-, F-,