With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for racial and ethnic minorities.
If you are of a different race or ethnic background than most people in the country where you live, you might worry that you will face discrimination when you look for a job or that your child will be treated unfairly at school. However, the EU is founded on respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities, and is looking after your interests, even if you don’t have EU citizenship.
EU law prohibits discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin in most walks of life: employment, education and vocational training, social protection, and access to goods and services, including housing. This means that you should not be treated less favourably or put at a disadvantage because of your racial or ethnic background. When discrimination occurs, there are mechanisms in place to make it easier for you to seek justice. EU countries are obliged to ensure that judicial and administrative procedures are available to everyone. EU law also makes it easier for you to bring your case to court.
Harassment based on race or ethnicity, and incitement to discrimination or hatred, including online hate speech, are strongly prohibited under EU law. Thanks to the EU, offences against people based on race or ethnic origin are punishable under criminal law and victims of crime are ensured minimum standards in all EU countries.
The EU also funds projects to help minorities, collects field data, and helps countries to exchange best practices.
- European Commission, website ‘Combating racism and xenophobia’, https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/racism-and-xenophobia/combating-racism-and-xenophobia_en
- EPRS publication ‘EU measures against discrimination’, 2017, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/603887/EPRS_ATA(2017)603887_EN.pdf
- Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=LEGISSUM:l33114&from=EN&isLegissum=true