European Interest

Fight against racism: end segregation in schools and halt xenophobia in media


MEPs ask for public policies on culture, media, education and sports to be used to uproot structural racism and promote the EU values of tolerance and inclusion.

In a resolution adopted on Tuesday by 495 votes to 109 and 92 abstentions, MEPs call for media to stop spreading stigmatising narratives that dehumanise members of particular ethnic or racial groups, for example by targeting migrants as the source of economic and social problems. They propose to stop EU and state funding for media outlets that are found by competent authorities to be promoting hate speech and xenophobia.

They also propose that all national audiovisual regulators should be provided with the powers to penalise programmes that promote racist content.

Revise school curricula, end segregation in schools and return cultural works

MEPs call for education curricula to be revised in order to combat bias and eradicate stereotypes that lead to discrimination today. The history of European minorities should be included in relevant studies. Authors, historians, scientists, artists and other figures from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds should be included in key educational materials, MEPs say.

MEPs demand the elimination of racial and ethnic segregation that still exists in the education systems of some EU countries. Teaching staff from racial and ethnic minority groups must have equal access to teaching jobs, they say.

Member states must also equip all teachers with the skills they need to promote inclusion and combat discrimination in the education system. Lifelong learning programmes should also be offered to civil servants and state security forces to eliminate racist and xenophobic behaviour.

They also encourage EU countries to establish programmes to return cultural works to either their countries of origin or other appropriate cultural institutions and ask the European Commission to facilitate dialogue to this end.

Zero tolerance to hate in sports

MEPs insist on a “zero-tolerance approach” to racism, hate speech, violence in sport and urge the Commission and member states to adopt effective penalties and support victims, as well as to protect athletes that denounce racism or speak out for diversity from retaliation. They want the Commission to develop guidelines to combat racism in sport at local, national and European levels and foster inclusion and respect.

“We need to actively work against racism, so that our daughters and sons no longer have to ask themselves whether they have a place in our societies. To build a better future, we have to know and understand our history,” said Rapporteur Salima Yenbou (Greens/EFA, FR). “That’s why it’s important for students to learn more about colonialism, slavery, genocide and all the ensuing phenomena”. She also called to “put an end to media that spread racist language about migrants and refugees, and contents that are intentionally or unintentionally racist”.

According to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, 45% of people of North African descent, 41% of Roma and 39% of people of Sub-Saharan African descent in Europe face discrimination based on their ethnic or immigration background.

According to the 2019 Eurobarometer, over half of Europeans believe that racial discrimination is widespread in their country, with “Being Roma” (61% of respondents), “Ethnic origin” (59%) and “Skin colour” (59%) being the top three grounds for discrimination identified by citizens.

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