On 16 September 2020, during her State of the Union address, President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Progress in the fight against racism and hatred is fragile — hard to come by, but very easy to lose. So now is the time to make changes. To build a truly anti-racist Union — condemning racism, but also taking action. And the Commission is proposing an action plan to begin implementing this goal."

In her 2020 State of the Union address, President von der Leyen announced a new EU action plan against racism, which sets out a series of measures for the next five years. Among other things, the Commission will ensure that Member States fully implement the relevant EU legislation and will further strengthen the legal framework if necessary. This could be particularly the case in sectors not yet covered by anti-discrimination legislation, such as law enforcement. The Commission also calls on Member States to maximize the use of all the tools at their disposal, in particular the funding available under the next long-term EU budget and the Next Generation EU instrument. The action plan brings together actors at all levels to fight racism more effectively in Europe, including through the adoption of national action plans against racism.

Ms. Viera Yurova, Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency, said: “We have reached a moment of awareness. The protests sent a clear message — change must happen now. It won't be easy, but it has to be done. We will work more intensively for this purpose. We will not hesitate to strengthen the legislation if necessary. The Commission itself will adapt its recruitment policy to better reflect European society."

Ms. Helena Daly, Equality Commissioner, said: “There is no place for racial discrimination and racism of any kind in democratic societies. We must all strive to make our societies anti-racist. With this action plan, we recognize that racism is not only perpetrated by individuals, but is also structural. Therefore, we must confront him at all levels of government to reverse the situation. For this reason, we address, among others, issues related to law enforcement, social attitudes, stereotypes and economic concerns; and we encourage Member States to adopt corresponding action plans against racism."

Need for further action: coordination, awareness raising and enforcement of national and EU law

The EU Action Plan against Racism 2020-2025 sets out a series of actions to tackle racism through EU law and other means — in cooperation with Member States, including national law enforcement authorities, the media and the civil society; leveraging existing and future EU tools; and examining the Commission's own human resources.

Among other things, the action plan calls for:

·         Better enforcement of EU law — The EU has a strong legal framework to combat discrimination, racism and xenophobia, but there is a clear need to reassess this framework and identify any gaps that need to be filled. In 2021, the Commission will report on the implementation of the Racial Equality Directive and follow up with potential legislation by 2022. The Commission will also ensure the full and correct transposition and implementation of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia, including through infringement procedures.

·         Closer coordination— The Commission will appoint an anti-racism coordinator and start a regular dialogue with stakeholders, which will meet at least twice a year. The coordinator will work with people belonging to minority racial or ethnic groups and interact with Member States, the European Parliament, civil society, academia and the Commission to strengthen policy measures in the field of combating racism.

· Fair policing and protection — with the support of EU agencies such as the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), Member States are encouraged to step up their efforts to prevent discriminatory attitudes among law enforcement authorities and to strengthen the credibility of law enforcement work against hate crimes.

·         Enhanced action at national level— Member States are encouraged to adopt national action plans against racism and racial discrimination by the end of 2022. By the end of 2021, the Commission, in cooperation with national experts, will put together the basic principles for drawing up effective national action plans and will submit a first progress report by the end of 2023.

·         Increasing the diversity of EU staff— The Commission will take steps to significantly improve the representativeness of Commission staff through measures aimed at recruitment and selection. The other EU institutions are urged to take similar measures.

Other measures listed in the action plan include: raising awareness and addressing racial and ethnic stereotyping through the media, education, culture and sport; and improving the collection of disaggregated data by ethnic or racial origin. The Commission will also launch an annual designation of European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity and organize an anti-racism summit in spring 2021.

Next steps

The implementation of the actions presented in the action plan will be monitored, progress will be reported and actions will be adjusted where necessary.

The Commission calls on the European Parliament to debate on a regular basis and support the implementation of the action plan and the Council to adopt conclusions on Member States' actions to prevent and combat racism.


Discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin is prohibited in the EU. However, this discrimination still exists in our society and more than half of Europeans believe that discrimination is widespread in their country. According to the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), 45% of people of North African origin, 41% of Roma and 39% of people of sub-Saharan African origin have experienced this type of discrimination. 11% of Jews feel discriminated against because of being Jewish.

The EU has a legal framework, including the Racial Equality Directive and the Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia. Recent events demonstrating the existence of racial tensions have raised concerns that legal protections against racial, religious or ethnic discrimination are not being effectively implemented. This is also linked to concerns regarding the relationship between law enforcement agencies and minorities.

Following President von der Leyen's speech calling for further action, the College of Commissioners held a structured debate on 24 June on "Fighting racism and greater diversity and equality in the European Union". At the time, the President emphasized that this was the beginning of the discussion and the taking of concrete actions, including an action plan.

SOURCE: official website of the EUROPEAN UNION