Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey - Main results FRA Opinions

Discrimination and awareness of rights

The EU-MIDIS II results underscore that having adopted non-discrimination legislation is not enough. Measures to combat discrimination in all areas of life need to be effective and inclusive for all, in particular for groups most at risk of abuse – such as ethnic minorities, persons of different skin colour or religion, immigrants and their children.

Discrimination is experienced differently by women and men, the young and the old, and by immigrants and descendants of immigrants. For example, on average, the second generation indicates higher levels of religious discrimination than the first generation of immigrants: one out of five second-generation respondents (20 %) felt discriminated against because of their religion or religious beliefs, compared to one out of eight first-generation immigrants (12 %). This shows that characteristics such as gender, age or socialisation patterns (first and second generation) also affect discrimination experiences and need to be taken into account when designing legal and policy responses.

The Europe 2020 strategy is the EU's agenda for growth and jobs for the current decade. It emphasises smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as a way to overcome the structural weaknesses in Europe's economy, improve its competitiveness and productivity and underpin a sustainable social market economy. Reducing the number of people threatened by poverty or social exclusion by 20 million is one of the five targets of this agenda. This is of particular importance for Roma, who are overrepresented among those affected by poverty and social exclusion. The Europe 2020 strategy also identified better integration of migrants as contributing towards reaching its headline target to increase the employment rate of the population aged 20–64 to 75 %, which would also foster cohesive societies and help to balance the effects of ageing populations.

Given the share of immigrants and ethnic minorities among today’s working age populations in EU Member States, these findings are particularly useful when designing policies aiming to increase the labour market participation of immigrants and minorities who can make a substantial contribution to reaching Europe 2020’s employment target.

EU-MIDIS I revealed that only a small proportion of respondents (18 %) reported incidents of discrimination they had experienced in the 12 months preceding that survey. EU-MIDIS II results show that the situation has not improved. To the contrary: only 12 % of respondents who felt discriminated against reported the most recent incident. This shows that measures taken to date by the EU and its Member States have not improved reporting rates. As a result, incidents of discrimination remain largely unreported and therefore invisible to institutions – such as bodies for the promotion of equal treatment – that have a legal obligation to respond to discrimination complaints.

Women report such incidents more often (14 %) than men (11 %). Respondents who did report discrimination incidents mostly addressed their employer (36 %) or trade unions (13 %) with respect to work-related incidents. Meanwhile, 17 % of respondents reported incidents related to entering a night club or a bar to the police. Only 4 % of all respondents who reported a discrimination incident with respect to any area filed a complaint or reported the incident to an equality body. This is not surprising given that most respondents are not aware that such bodies exist in their country. EU-MIDIS I showed that most respondents were not aware of any organisation that offers support or advice to discrimination victims. Similarly, in EU-MIDIS II, the majority of respondents (71 %) were also not aware of any such organisation, and 62 % did not even recognise the name of any equality body in their country.

Harassment and violence motivated by hatred

The overwhelming majority (90 %) of respondents who were asked about the most recently experienced incident of hate-motivated harassment indicated that they did not report the incident – either to the police or to another organisation or service. Of those who did report such incidents, 36 % reported them to the police, 53 % to another organisation/service, and 10 % to both the police and another organisation/service. Only 13 respondents reported hate-motivated harassment to an equality body, human rights institution or ombudsperson (out of 8,709 respondents who provided details of the most recent incident they had experienced).

Compared with incidents of hate-motivated harassment, respondents who experienced hate-motivated physical attacks were more likely to report these incidents. Overall, 28 % reported the most recent incident of hate-motivated violence in the five years before the survey to the police or to another organisation or service. Incidents of violence were most often reported to the police, while harassment was usually reported to some other organisation or service – for example, somebody at the place where it occurred.

When asked why they decided not to report an incident of hate-motivated violence, respondents most often noted that they were not convinced that anything would happen or change as a result of reporting (41 %). Other common reasons for not reporting included wanting to deal with the problem oneself or with the help of family and friends (21 %), and the perception that the incident was minor and therefore not worth reporting (16 %). Furthermore, 11 % mentioned not trusting the police or being afraid of the police.

These results point to a risk that measures such as individual victims’ needs assessments, as provided for in the Victims’ Rights Directive, would benefit only the very small minority of victims who do report incidents. While some victims of hate-motivated incidents may find other meaningful ways of coping with the experience – such as relying on assistance from family and friends – some of them might have chosen to seek legal redress if they had access to more information about their rights and existing support mechanisms. When crime is not reported to authorities, this in most cases also means that the incidents are never officially investigated and perpetrators are not prosecuted. The finding that many victims do not report victimisation to the authorities is consistent with findings of other victimisation surveys and FRA’s research on specific groups, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, Jewish people, and women.

EU Member States should ensure that any violent incident involving law enforcement is investigated independently through fully independent and functional complaints mechanisms.

Police stops and treatment by the police

Overall, 14 % of respondents were stopped by the police in the 12 months preceding the survey (including stops in a private vehicle, stop-and-search incidents on the street, or in public transport). Of those stopped, 40 % believe that the most recent stop was because of their immigrant or ethnic minority background. Respondents with Asian and South Asian, North African, and Sub-Saharan African backgrounds, as well as Roma, more frequently say that they were stopped by the police because of their immigrant or ethnic minority background. None of the respondents from the Russian minorities indicated that they were stopped by the police because of their minority background. On average, the police stopped young persons with immigrant backgrounds more often than older persons, and men more often than women, across most target groups surveyed. Among Roma, the rates of police stops are quite similar across different age groups. Roma women and men also believe to the same extent that the most recent police stop was because of their minority background. These results indicate that discriminatory police practices affect certain immigrant and ethnic minority groups more than others, confirming similar findings in EU-MIDIS I.

Law enforcement has a duty to treat everyone respectfully, addressing the needs and rights of all victims. Discriminatory ethnic profiling – police stops based solely or mainly on an individual’s personal characteristics rather than on their behaviour – is unlawful. It can also damage community relations and undermine trust in, and public cooperation with, law enforcement. EU-MIDIS II results show that most respondents generally trust the police and say that they were respectfully treated during the most recent police stop. However, the reporting rates for hate crime incidents remain very low, which could indicate a lack of confidence in law enforcement’s ability to tackle hate crime incidents effectively.

Living together in the EU: citizenship, participation, trust and tolerance

Having a secure residence status and particularly acquiring citizenship can promote integration and strengthen individuals’ sense of attachment to their country of residence. Having an insecure residence status can be particularly problematic for vulnerable groups, such as victims of violence. This is recognised, for example, in the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which addresses the need for victims of domestic violence – who are often dependent on their spouses – to obtain secure residence status (Article 59). Victims without a secure residence status may also be more reluctant to contact or report to the competent authorities in case of discrimination, harassment or hate-motivated violence.

The results show that immigrants often indicate higher levels of trust in national and European institutions than the general population does. However, the results vary considerably across countries and target groups. Overall, trust in local authorities, the police and the legal system is particularly high, though lower among the second generation in most countries. As previously noted, the survey findings indicate that experiences of discrimination and hate crime victimisation have a strong negative impact on respondents’ levels of trust in public institutions and their feelings of belonging to, and identifying with, the country they live in. Both acquiring citizenship of the country of residence and being treated equally strengthen individuals’ identification with their country of residence, and so ultimately bolster social cohesion.

EU-MIDIS II shows that respondents’ educational level and their proficiency in at least one of the national languages of the country they live in are positively related to their position in the labour market. This is especially true for the second generation. Access to education and employment are critical elements for successful integration. According to the Common Basic Principles for immigrant integration, basic knowledge of the host society’s language, history, and institutions is indispensable to integration, and efforts in education are critical to preparing immigrants – and particularly their descendants – to be more successful and more active participants in society. However, the data also suggest that a large proportion of respondents cannot read in the respective national language. In the EU-28, on average, 74 % of the population aged 15 to 64 had completed at least upper secondary education in 2016. Meanwhile, only 61 % of EU-MIDIS II respondents aged 16 to 64 reported having completed at least upper secondary education.