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CEJI at the Consultation Meeting on an EU Action Plan Against Racism


Read below the intervention delivered by CEJI Director Robin Sclafani on July 20, 2020 during the Consultation Meeting with Vice-President Věra Jourová and Commissioner Helena Dalli.

An EU Action plan against racism must be holistic, including the many different fields mentioned already here today, such as criminal justice and employment, and recognizing the specificities of different communities affected by racism. But it is crucial not to forget some qualitative elements which will be key to the success of efforts to design and implement new policies in any field.

The first of these, already mentioned, but not to be underestimated, are frameworks of cooperation.  More than consultations, more than outreach, frameworks of cooperation imply long-term engagement between public authorities and civil society organisations. For example, in the hate crime field where such frameworks exist, there is more reporting by victims and better victim support services. Only by working together can trust be built, strategies designed, and new policies implemented, with the people who will be most affected by them. [1]

Speaking of people, we cannot forget that they are crucial to the implementation of policies, and they will need training on how to do that. Such training should not only cover the practicalities linked to anti-racism expectations, but it should also make people aware of personal and institutional implicit biases. If this does not happen, then assumptions that perpetuate inequalities will continue to manifest and the road to inclusion will be longer and tougher.

This same principle of implicit biases holds true also for EU institutions. It is too easy to place the burden of change on Member States, when it is all too clear that there is a lot of work still to be done in-house. Whereas the European Commission has been proud of its anonymized approach to the testing of future employees, also known as “blinding” in the anti-bias field, there is increasing evidence that blinding is limited in how much it can achieve, especially when it comes to racialized communities. Staff diversification must actually take into account individuals’ backgrounds and experiences in order to better reflect the communities they serve.[2]

Finally, we must not forget that we are talking about a cultural change here. We are embracing the reality of Europe’s diversity, where white is not supreme, where Europeans come in all colours and our society is stronger, more creative, more innovative, more prosperous, because we welcome and harness this plurality. Despite all our best efforts, we will not achieve this vision if we do not invest in our education systems. From early childhood through universities, formal, non-formal and informal education, we must re-think the content, the methods and the allocation of resources so that a new European cultural norm is established where diversity, inclusion and equality are lived realities.

[1] The CEJI coordinated project, Facing all the Facts, developed online training courses for law enforcement, policy-makers and civil society organisations on hate crime with modules focusing on specific bias motivations. In addition, a thorough investigation was made into national cooperation mechanisms amongst hate crime stakeholders. The results of this research, including national systems maps, are available here: https://www.facingfacts.eu/connecting-on-hate-crime/

[2] CEJI recently led a successful 1 ½ days pilot training on unconscious bias vis a vis “race”, religion and ethnicity for EC staff involved in human resource management. CEJI has also delivered a 2 day training on anti-Muslim hatred/islamophobia and 4x  1 ½ days of training on antisemitism for EC staff, all contracted via DG Justice. CEJI’s track-record on anti-bias training dates back 25 years in Europe with positive external evaluations and award-winning programmes.