The European Commission has appointed a former professional basketball player, Michaela Moua, as its first-ever Anti-Racism Co-ordinator, adding that the newly created post was in line with its anti-racism action plan.
Ms Moua, a Finnish national of African origin, said she was “extremely excited about this opportunity to achieve real justice” in her reaction to the appointment, which was announced on Monday. She said she was keen to “be in Brussels and get started” in her new role.
The 44-year-old Moua will liaise closely with communities of minority racial and ethnic backgrounds in the EU and “relay their concerns” to the Commission
The anti-racism coordinator “will interact with Member States, the European Parliament, civil society and academia to strengthen policy responses in the field of anti-racism,” a Commission spokesman has been quoted as saying.
“She will join forces with other Commission services to implement the Commission’s policy on preventing and combating racism.”
Reacting to the appointment, Karen Taylor, chair of the Brussels-based European Network against Racism board, said, “We are happy to see the former vice chair of Anti-Racist Forum Finland, one of our member organisations, being appointed as the coordinator.”
“Though there are still many challenges ahead to tackle racism in Europe, we are confident in her [Moua’s] abilities to successfully implement the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan and address systemic oppressions in Europe, and look forward to working with her closely in this new capacity,” Ms Taylor, who is also the policy and advocacy director at the Berlin-based Black empowerment group Each One Teach One, added.
A statement by 72 civil society organisations also welcomed the appointment but said Moua “needs a clear mandate and civil society participation to deliver on the Anti-Racism Action Plan.”
It goes on, “Strong political engagement from the Commission and Member States’ political leadership will lead to concrete initiatives that will help deliver racial justice in Europe.”
Michaela Moua, daughter of a Finn mother and an Ivorian father, was born on 18 August 1976 in Helsinki. She began her career of professional basketballer at the age of 16 and played for clubs across Europe – in Italy, Switzerland, Hungary and Croatia. She ended her professional career in 2011 and has then worked for various non-governmental organisations that fight racism and discrimination in Finland, such as the Helsinki Human Rights Foundation. For the last few years, she has worked at the Ministry of Justice in Finland as a senior official of the anti-discrimination office.