European Interest

European Parliament: “The need to actively fight racism is becoming more acute”

Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on marginalised communities and minorities in both the EU and the US.

Structural racism, systemic discrimination and racial injustice are worldwide issues and we must stand firmly together against them all, say MEPs

On Tuesday, Members of Parliament’s Civil Liberties CommitteeSubcommittee on Human Rights and the delegation for relations with the United States discussed ways to combat racism and systemic discrimination, and how to promote racial justice on both sides of the Atlantic, with Members of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, other Members of the United States Congress, European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, as well as with invited civil society representatives and academics.

Europe not immune to racism

Many participants underlined that, while racism and racial injustice in the US have recently been laid bare by lethal police violence on multiple occasions, Europe is certainly not immune to either xenophobia or systemic discrimination.

During the meeting, both US and European speakers issued stark reminders that racial justice goes way beyond policing and criminal justice reform, and highlighted how racism is systemic and pervasive in our everyday institutions, whether it concerns access to the housing market, education, jobs and even our health systems.

This is illustrated by the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on marginalised communities and minorities in both the EU and the US, and the anti-Asian rhetoric regarding the origin of the virus and much else.

Others underlined how racism and discrimination are worldwide issues and politicians and elected representatives on both sides must stand firmly together against them.

During the meeting, European Commissioner Helena Dalli also presented the new EU Action Plan on combating racism and hate, while stressing that the EU is deeply committed to fighting racism, discrimination and xenophobia, wherever it occurs, at home or beyond.

joint declaration was issued after the meeting.


The invited speakers included US Congress Members Gwen Moore (Helsinki Commissioner), Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader), Karen Bass (Chair, Congressional Black Caucus), Joe Wilson (Co-Chair, Congressional European Union Caucus and Ranking Member, U.S. Helsinki Commission) Gregory Meeks (Co-Chair, Congressional European Union Caucus), William Keating and Adam Kinzinger (Chair and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy and the Environment), Jim Costa (Chair, U.S. Delegation, Transatlantic Legislators Dialogue) as well as French historian Pap Ndiaye, Hilary Shelton (Director, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Washington Bureau) and many more.

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