At the June Plenary session of the European Parliament this week where Members of the Parliament discussed anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said it was time we talked about racism openly and honestly, and that ‘we did more than listen' and ‘more than condemn'.
“As a society, we need to confront reality. We relentlessly need to fight racism and discrimination: visible discrimination, of course. But also more subtle racism and discrimination - our unconscious biases”, she said.
Von der Leyen called for joining forces at all levels to build a Europe that was more equal, more humane and more fair.
She pointed out to many difficult questions that need answering - from enduring racism and discrimination to xenophobia and under-representation.
“I want to get to the bottom of these questions”, she said, announcing that the Commission would hold a structured debate on racism in the College, and study its roots.
Von der Leyen also pointed out to anti-discrimination legislation, cooperation tools and networks, as well as funding that are underpinning European anti-discrimination policies.
“I am glad to live in a society that condemns racism. But we should not stop there”, von der Leyen was clear asking to ‘sound the alarm' and act immediately if we encountered it. Because awareness begins on small scale, she said. “Awareness includes examining oneself. And awareness includes questioning privileges we may take for granted, which are anything but.”
She concluded by recalling the motto of the European Union, ‘United in diversity' saying our task was to live up to these words, and to fulfil their meaning.