MEPs face Europe’s past & present in vote on tackling racism
The European Parliament has declared support for the Black Lives Matter movement and recognised the slave trade as a crime against humanity in a resolution approved today.
The Left group in the European Parliament brought this debate to the plenary, leading to a detailed resolution tackling police brutality and systemic racism against black people and people of colour in Europe – despite attempts by the right-wing EPP group to water down the text.
Given President Trump’s open incitement against protesters and xenophobic statements, this expression of solidarity and internationalism seeks to add pressure on the US administration to address racial injustice in issues like police violence, mass incarceration and the persecution of black trans women.
The resolution calls for an EU Code of Police Ethics, demands that the Commission develop a comprehensive strategy against racism and discrimination, and calls on EU governments to immediately conclude negotiations for the Horizontal Directive on non-discrimination, which has been blocked since 2008.
It also condemns racial profiling and calls on member states to apply criminal law on certain forms of racism and xenophobia, and to promote anti-discrimination policy in all areas.
MEP Younous Omarjee (France Insoumise) welcomed the adoption of his proposal for recognition of the slave trade as a crime against humanity:
“The eight chilling minutes of the assassination of George Floyd mobilised hundreds of thousands of people around the world to fight structural racism and police violence. We stand with this movement, and the victims of racism and police violence so that a concrete result can be achieved from their demands for respect and equality.
“If we’d look lucidly at our own history, we’d see that these events stem from centuries of oppression against black people in the United States and inequality in Europe. Let us keep in mind that our European history oscillated like a pendulum between barbarism and civilisation. It was in Europe, despite Reason and the Enlightenment, that the worst theories of race hierarchy were born, to justify conquests, slavery, colonisation and the Holocaust.
“If we want to eradicate this evil, there is a whole mentality that we must continue to deconstruct. A whole system of economic violence, which makes racial and social inequalities overlap, must be combated.”
MEP Clare Daly (Independents for Change, Ireland) was pleased with the adoption of a strong resolution, which contains many of the policies the Left has defended:
“Words are one thing, but what we really need is action – action in terms of Europe addressing its colonial past and making reparations; action in terms of tackling the structural and systemic racism that runs through all European societies and institutions; action to dismantle all the deeply racist structures of Fortress Europe. The Black Lives Matter protests that have swept the world since the death of George Floyd have moved the debate decisively forward – there’s never been a better time to seize the initiative on this, to force action and really serious, fundamental change.”
GUE/NGL Co-President Martin Schirdewan said this resolution leaves no doubt that the fight against racism must be a priority:
“There is no place for racism in our society, as the European Parliament has shown with this positive vote. This GUE/NGL-initiated resolution demonstrates the importance of the fight against everyday racism and structural racism and sends a clear message against arbitrary police violence,” Schirdewan concluded.