Will the European Parliament take measures to combat racism?
With one in ten Members of the European Parliament belonging to parties that promote racist or xenophobic policies, and hate speech becoming part of political discourse (42 incidents of hate speech recorded during the election campaign), NGOs led by the European Network Against Racism believe it is important that MEPs establish a forum to counter and combat racism.
Some 100 NGOs from across Europe have called on MEPs to form an Intergroup on Anti-Racism and Diversity. This call is being supported by a number of MEPs including British ones. Intergroups are informal forums set up by MEPs to discuss issues of shared interest and to influence the European Parliament’s legislative and policy work. The power of an intergroup resides in using cross-party support to drive parliamentary work, and provides an opportunity for MEPs to engage with civil society on important issues.
A vote on which Intergroups should be formed by the European Parliament takes place next week. Will MEPs take the initiative to combat racism? The UK Race and Europe Network on behalf of its 160 member organisations strongly urges MEPs to vote for such an Intergroup. It will enable a cross-Europe solution to growing race hate, from Greece to Ireland and all EU Member States in between. We also urge people who believe in a racism-free society to email your MEP. Contact details of MEPs are here: http://www.europarl.org.uk/en/your_meps.html.
So far Sajjad Karim MEP, Afzal Khan MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Linda McAvan MEP, Claude Moraes MEP and Julie Ward MEP have agreed to the creation of an Intergroup on Anti-Racism and Diversity. The key dates for the Intergroup are 26 November, when political groups decide on their priorities and 26 November - 11 December, when there will be negotiation between political groups on which Intergroups will be established.
Let’s hope the outcome is a positive one.
Ratna Lachman, Vice-Chair, UK Race and Europe Network
Alan Anstead, Coordinator, UK Race and Europe Network