EU legislation and policies to fight racial and ethnic discrimination

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Series Details PE 690.525
Publication Date March 2021
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Racial and ethnic minorities face discrimination and its consequences on a daily basis. The exact scale of the problem is hard to gauge owing to a lack of data and general under-reporting of racist incidents. The pandemic has seen a major increase in reports of racist and xenophobic incidents, however, while racial and ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, with higher death and infection rates.

Although since 2000 the European Union (EU) has introduced legislation to combat racial and xenophobic discrimination, the problem persists, with the need for new measures recently highlighted by the global Black Lives Matter protests. A number of studies also point to the cost of racial discrimination not only for the individuals concerned but also for society as a whole. For instance, a 2018 EPRS report argued that the loss in earnings caused by racial and ethnic discrimination for both individuals and societies amounts to billions of euros annually. The problem is also acknowledged by EU citizens: a 2019 survey found that over half of Europeans believe racial or ethnic discrimination to be widespread in their country.

To address racial discrimination and its underlying inequalities, the European Commission has put forward a number of equality strategies and actions. The first European Summit against Racism was held on 19 March 2021. The European Parliament, meanwhile, has long been demanding an end to racial discrimination. In recent resolutions, Parliament has called for an end to structural racism and discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality, and for the right to protest peacefully.

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