The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, delivered her annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday (16 September).
Under the theme “Building the world we want to live in: A Union of vitality in a world of fragility”, she set out her vision and priorities for the year ahead on issues ranging from the economy, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and migration to countering racism in the EU.
President von der Leyen announced that the Commission will soon present a European anti-racism action plan, “To build a truly anti-racist Union – that goes from condemnation to action”.
“As part of this, we will propose to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech – whether because of race, religion, gender or sexuality.”
She announced that the European Commission will also appoint the first-ever Anti-Racism Coordinator to keep its commitment to a discrimination-free Europe “at the top of our agenda and to work directly with people, civil society and institutions”.
Moreover, the Commission will also put forward a strategy to strengthen LGBTQI rights in the EU.
President von der Leyen stated the commitment to fight racism and discrimination thus:
“Hate is hate – and no one should have to put up with it.
“We will strengthen our racial equality laws where there are gaps.
“We will use our budget to address discrimination in areas such as employment, housing or healthcare.
“We will get tougher on enforcement when implementation lags behind.
Because in this Union, fighting racism will never be optional.
“We will improve education and knowledge on the historical, cultural causes of racism.
“We will tackle unconscious bias that exists in people, institutions and even in algorithms.”
Protests across European cities, following the murder of George Floyd in the US, brought into focus racial discrimination and police brutality in Europe. And civil society and ethnic minority groups have been calling on the EU to address the issue of racism and discrimination through concrete policy measures.