UKREN blog

Tuesday 7 July 2015

European Network Against Racism - last year’s results and what next

ENAR held its General Assembly, attended by some 60 member organisations from across Europe, at the end of June. 

The context for the meeting of an organisation that stands against racism and discrimination and works towards equality, solidarity and well-being for all in Europe, is a stark one. In the past year we have seen European Parliament elections in which electorates voted for more right-wing parties, anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hate crime and speech has increased (Met Police figures show an increase in racial or religious hate incidents in 2014 by 28% in London alone), immigration has been a political and social debate with scenes of desperate migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Yet against that backdrop, the ENAR secretariat and its members have influenced thinking on some significant issues. Firstly on equality data collection. Here in the UK one can access data on key issues such as employment, educational attainment, access to healthcare and housing that is broken down by ethnicity and race. But many other EU countries do not publish such data. Why is this important to race equality? Without data, NGOs and governments do not have the proof that structural racism and discrimination exists, so that they can tackle it. ENAR’s advocacy work resulted in the European Commission agreeing to make recommendations on equality data collection and to publicly examine the practice in each member state. 

Next achievement was on advocating for action to tackle specific forms of racism targeting Black people, Roma, Muslims and Jewish people. Whether you use the terms Afrophobia, anti-Gypsyism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism or not, there has been an increase in targeted racist incidents across Europe, particularly in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo and ISIS murders. Some excellent research by the Tell MAMA project showed a direct correlation between increases in anti-Muslim hate in the UK and terrorist incidents in other countries. ENAR has secured commitments from some prominent MEPs to combat this targeted racism and positioned itself as a stakeholder able to build partnerships and bridges between communities. During the General Assembly I had the honour to meet Cecile Kashetu Kyenge, an Italian MEP who has been the object of vicious racist hate speech attacks.

Responding to racist crime and hate speech was another major area of ENAR’s work. Tackling hate speech by politicians in the lead up to European elections, and research across Europe on racist violence that led to a major report being published in April 2015, were all notable achievements.

Last achievement to pull out is ENAR’s role in re-establishing the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup in the European Parliament, a forum for MEPs plus NGOs to work together on anti-racism issues. 

What next? The Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup is putting together its work plan at the moment. From that it should be possible to identify ways in which ENAR and UKREN members can inform and influence MEPs. ENAR is also drafting strategies to fight specific forms of racism - against Black Europeans and people of African descent, Roma, Muslims and Jewish communities. These were discussed at the General Assembly within the member-led workshops, so that pan-Europe experience could be incorporated. There will be further ways to influence these emerging strategies over the course of the year.

Alan Anstead

UKREN Coordinator

7 July 2015

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