EU legislation and policies to address racial and ethnic discrimination

Briefing 03-05-2022

Racial and ethnic minorities face discrimination and its consequences on a daily basis. The exact scale of the problem is hard to gauge due to a lack of data and general under-reporting of racist incidents. The coronavirus pandemic has seen a major increase in reports of racist and xenophobic incidents, and the crisis it triggered has had a disproportionately large negative effect on racial and ethnic minority groups, in the form of 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. EU citizens also acknowledge this problem: 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 the inequalities it engenders, the European Commission has put forward a number of equality strategies and actions. One such action, the second European summit against racism, was held on 21 March 2022. The European Parliament, meanwhile, has long been demanding an end to racial discrimination. In recent resolutions, the Parliament has called for putting an end to structural racism, discrimination, racial profiling and police brutality; for asserting the right to protest peacefully; and for boosting the role of culture, education, media and sport in the fight against racism. This updates a briefing from March 2021.