Racism, xenophobia and related intolerance

Barriers persist in implementing effectively European Union (EU) legislation that prohibits and penalises manifestations of racism, xenophobia and ethnic discrimination. The sixth year of the economic crisis and turbulent developments in the Middle East and North Africa are raising concerns and considerations for migration and integration policies in the EU.

Meanwhile, Europeans are increasingly responsive to parties and movements with xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim agendas. Migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and members of ethnic and religious minorities suffer manifestations of violent hatred and continuous discrimination in many areas of social life. Moreover, the increasing use of internet and social media proliferates some political rhetoric and racist hate speech.

FRA conclusions

In 2014 across the EU, members of minority ethnic groups, including migrants and refugees, continue to face discrimination in access to key areas of social life, such as employment, education, health and services, including housing.

  • EU Member States should intensify efforts to implement the Racial Equality Directive fully and effectively, in particular concerning the reporting of discrimination incidents to national equality bodies to combat discrimination more effectively.

Underreporting of incidents of discrimination experienced by migrant and ethnic groups persists. Article 10 of the Racial Equality Directive requires Member States to inform persons concerned of their rights to non-discrimination.

  • EU Member States should intensify awareness-raising activities targeting such persons effectively, including among bodies that can help to disseminate information such as national equality bodies, NGOs, trade unions and employers.

In 2014, incidents of racist, antisemitic and xenophobic hate crime and hate speech persist. Continuous victimisation of members of minority ethnic groups can contribute to feelings of social exclusion and alienation of entire communities, and incite radicalisation.

  • EU Member States should proceed with the full and correct transposition and effective implementation of the Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia. In addition, Member States are encouraged to adopt and implement policies and measures aiming at combating racism and hate crime, as well as deradicalisation programmes.

The internet remains a critical tool for spreading hate speech.

  • A number of EU Member States have taken steps to counter hate speech online in 2014. To prevent the misuse of the internet as an area where hate speech can be committed with impunity, EU Member States should assess if the police and public prosecutors’ offices are sufficiently staffed and equipped to investigate and prosecute hate crime on the internet, to address cyber hate as far as necessary to meet Member States’ responsibilities and standards of due diligence.

Persistent gaps exist in data collection when it comes to recording of hate crimes, even though several EU Member States have made efforts to improve the recording and prosecuting of hate crimes in 2014.

  • EU Member States are encouraged to provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with specialist training that will enable them to effectively identify, investigate and prosecute crimes committed with a discriminatory motive. Such specialist training would improve their understanding of the rights and needs of victims of hate crimes, and ensure that such victims are offered assistance and support in compliance with the provisions of the Victims’ Directive.

In several EU Member States there were incidents involving discriminatory misconduct and discriminatory ethnic profiling by law enforcement officials in 2014.

  • This can undermine trust in law enforcement officials. EU Member States should consider providing specialist training to law enforcement officials, adopting codes of conduct for the prevention of racism, and consider approaches, such as community policing, that can strengthen community relations and trust in the police’s ability to respond sensitively to the rights and needs of victims.