EU Parliament Calls for Action Against Racism

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The resolution was overwhelmingly approved by 535 MEPs in a vote at the European parliament on Tuesday. Photograph by Vincent Kessler/Reuters.

The European parliament has called for action to tackle the “structural racism” facing millions of Europeans of African descent in an unprecedented resolution that was overwhelmingly approved by MEPs.

The resolution calls on European Union member states to develop national anti-racism strategies to deal with discrimination in education, health, housing, policing, the justice system and politics.

Although non-binding, campaign groups hailed the resolution as a watershed moment because it was the first time the parliament has focused specifically on the discrimination facing by an estimated 15 million people of African descent.

The text was approved by 535 MEPs, with 80 votes against and 44 abstentions. The resolution was crafted by the British Labor MEP Claude Moraes and is based on the experiences of Italian socialist MEP Cécile Kyenge, who experienced a torrent of racist abuse when she was Italy’s first Black government minister.

It calls on the European commission to fund programs to support people of African descent in the EU’s next seven-year budget and set up a dedicated team to focus on “Afrophobia”.

It also calls on member states to declassify their colonial archives and consider “some form of reparations” for crimes of the colonial era, including public apologies and the restitution of artefacts from museums. “Some member states have taken steps towards meaningful and effective redress for past injustices and crimes against humanity—bearing in mind their lasting impacts in the present,” the resolution states. The EU institutions and other member states are called on to follow this example.

“Histories of injustices against Africans and people of African Descent—including enslavement, forced labor, racial apartheid, massacre, and genocides in the context of European colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade—remain largely unrecognized and unaccounted for at an institutional level in EU member states,” the text states.

It also calls for the EU institutions to adopt “a workforce diversity and inclusion strategy” to redress the underrepresentation of Black and minority ethnic officials. The EU civil service has been heavily influenced by French bureaucratic tradition, which means data on race, ethnicity or religion is deemed contrary to equality.

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