Annual report 2007 - Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU

Unequal treatment continues in employment, housing and education, according to data collected by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). Figures for racist crime in 2005 and 2006 are up in a number of EU countries. While there are more signs that the EU's anti-discrimination legislation is having a positive impact, victims of discrimination still lack knowledge of the new rules.

Information collected by the Agency in 2006 points to ethnic discrimination and inequalities in employment, education and housing. In a significant number of EU countries, research describes widespread experiences of discrimination amongst migrants and the Roma in housing, as well as limitations in their right to equal access to education, and higher vulnerability to unemployment. An increase in recorded racist crimes has been noted in 8 of the 11 EU Member States that have collected adequate data on racist violence and crime over a period of several years. Yet, differences and gaps in recording systems make it impossible to compare numbers between countries.

The FRA report does, however, offer encouraging examples of good practice in some Member States. FRA notes that the EU's legislation on racial equality is gradually stimulating positive change. There is more awareness as regards discrimination, and the need to combat it, among politicians, the media and the public. In some Member States there were for the first time landmark court decisions against discrimination in access to employment. New political and civil society initiatives have been taken to combat discrimination in and through education. Noting, however, the gaps in achieving the right to equal opportunities for everyone in the EU, the Agency called on governments to ensure adequate protection against discrimination.

FRA presented its "Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU" at the European Parliament on 27 August 2007. Speaking to the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Anastasia Crickley, the Chairperson of the FRA Management Board, said: "There is progress with regard to putting in place racial equality legislation in most EU countries. Yet, FRA's report proves that we cannot be complacent. There is ample evidence that racist violence and discrimination persist and in fact are on the increase in parts of the EU. It is important that the new Agency for Fundamental Rights continues to provide the EU with reliable data on the development of racism and discrimination, along with advice on how to develop evidence-based policies to combat such phenomena."