Regardless of ethnic origin, religion or belief, everyone living in the Union has a fundamental right to be treated equally, to be respected and to be protected from violence. This contribution paper to the Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights provides evidence of the fact that such respect is lacking, and suggests ways in which governments can ensure they fulfil their duty to safeguard this right for everyone living in the EU.
The European Union continues to witness challenges to its core principles and values, through violence motivated by hate and intolerance, through terrorist attacks against soft targets such as the media and cultural or religious facilities, and through the discrimination and exclusion of those regarded as ‘different’ because of what they believe in or where they come from.
The EU has adopted legislation to tackle discrimination, hate speech and hate crime, and it has funded many large and smallscale transnational projects. Many Member States have also taken similar action. However, much more can be done at local level, particularly in school settings, with law enforcement, social partners and the media.
The fight against discrimination, racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as efforts to respect and protect fundamental rights must be an ongoing effort in the face of new challenges.
This effort requires political will, efficient operational coordination and sharing of expertise and experience among all those involved, from EU bodies, through national, regional and local authorities, law enforcement agencies, the criminal justice system, educational authorities, statutory human rights and equality bodies, to service providers and civil society organisations.