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Action plan against racism

1) OBJECTIVE

Building on the achievements of the European Year against Racism (1997) [Resolution of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 23 July 1996 - Official Journal C 237 of 15.08.1996]to establish a coherent framework for combating racism at European level and to prepare the ground for future and more ambitious action within the framework of the new Treaty provisions on non-discrimination.

2) COMMUNITY MEASURES

Commission Communication of 25 March 1998 concerning an action plan against racism.

3) CONTENTS

The continuing presence of racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism presents a major challenge to our societies: according to a 1997 Eurobarometer opinion poll, 33 % of those interviewed openly described themselves as "quite racist" or "very racist". While the fight against racism is first and foremost a responsibility for the Member States, the transnational dimension of the phenomenon justifies a response at European level.

The European Year against Racism (1997) sparked off a broad range of initiatives at all levels, established a European platform of anti-racism non-governmental organisations and launched major information and communication campaigns. Moreover, public opinion expressed clear support for strengthening the role of the European institutions in the fight against racism.

In any case, the Commission had already, in its communication of 13 December 1995 [COM(95) 653 final], underlined its determination to take action to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-semetism. In 1995 a series of resolutions were adopted at Community level in order to introduce different levels of responsibility into this combat:

  • Resolution of 5 October 1995 on the fight against racism and xenophobia in the fields of employment and social affairs [Official Journal C 296, 10.11.1995];
  • Resolution of the Council of 23 October 1995 on the response of educational systems to the problems of racism and xenophobia [Official Journal C 312, 23.11.1995];
  • European Parliament Resolution of 27 April 1995 on racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism [Official Journal C 126, 22.05.1995];
  • European Parliament Resolution of 26 October 1995 on racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism [Official Journal C 308, 20.11.1995].

Great strides forward were also made on a political level:

  • the Treaty of Amsterdam now includes a general non-discrimination clause which will make it possible for the Council, after ratification of the Treaty, "to take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation" on the basis of proposals by the Commission;
  • a European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia was created in June 1997; it will set up and coordinate a European Racism and Xenophobia Network (RAXEN).

The action plan proposes to bring together in a partnership all the players involved in the fight against racism in the European Union:

  • the Member States, which are responsible for combating racism, by strengthening the exchange of experience between them;
  • non-governmental organisations, which play a crucial role in ensuring that the fight against racism remains on the political agenda;
  • the social partners, who have a major part to play in preventing racial tensions at the workplace and ensuring equal opportunities in employment generally;
  • local authorities, whose closeness to the citizen gives them a key role to play in trying out innovative approaches;
  • the media, which have responsibility for both providing information that highlights the dangers of racism and ensuring that the information provided is free from stereotyping and prejudice;
  • sports bodies and personalities.

The action plan against racism consists of four main strands.

- Paving the way for legislative initiatives: the aim is to continue the non-discriminatory application of Community legislation and to present a legislative proposal to combat racial discrimination;

- Mainstreaming the fight against racism: the sectors which could make a particularly useful contribution are employment strategy, the Structural Funds, education, training and youth, the information society, justice and home affairs, communication, audiovisual and culture, public procurement, research and external relations. The Commission will continue to apply the principles of non-discrimination in its own policies and internal practices; an inter-service group will be established as a tool for promoting the fight against racism as a mainstreaming principle across its policies;

- Developing and exchanging new models, by granting funding to projects and initiatives focusing on the following areas: racism in the workplace, racism in everyday life, the role of the media, racism in sport and combating racism through sport, legal measures to combat racism. The Commission will endeavour to promote contacts and exchanges between projects at European level;

- Strengthening information and communication work, by continuing to use the logo of the European Year against Racism, promoting the television spot, developing the Internet site on the EUROPA server, disseminating publications on anti-racism work and creating an innovation prize for anti-racism projects. The Commission also intends to cooperate with the media to spread anti-racism messages and to promote positive messages about diversity.

A report setting out the progress made in the fight against racism at European level will be published by the end of 1999.

4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

Not required

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the above)

6) REFERENCES

Commission Communication COM(98) 183 final
Not published in the Official Journal

7) FOLLOW-UP WORK

8) COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

Last updated: 10.10.2005
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