Diversity, equality and inclusiveness: time for the EU to act

As part of our new series exploring how to build ‘A Europe of Equals', MEPs explain how they want the EU to recognise the diversity of European society and introduce a new directive to ensure equal opportunities for all
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By MEP Views

18 May 2022

UNITY IN DIVERSITY

Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, Co-President of Parliament’s ARDI Intergroup, highlights the lack of racial diversity in the EU institutions and wants to see targeted measures to achieve better representation.

The under-representation of minorities in the workplace within the EU is a sad reality and does not reflect the diversity of people living in Europe. This shows that discrimination has many faces and is manifested by institutional racism. Certainly, everyone talks about diversity, but the reality is that few practice it. There is a lack of political will aimed at recruiting a representative workforce.

 

 

We should not see differences as a weakness, but as a strength. Differences can indeed help to unite people, especially when they have a common goal

Moreover, there is little racial diversity among the staff of the European institutions. Yet when employees from diverse backgrounds are united in a common goal, it has the benefit of increasing collaboration and engagement. We should not see differences as a weakness, but as a strength. Differences can indeed help to unite people, especially when they have a common goal. It is therefore essential that all EU institutions develop targeted, effective, and coordinated measures to achieve better representation of people from various cultural and ethnic minorities. We could consider here a quota, even if the mention of the word irritates certain politicians. Diversity is an essential element of the European Union's indentity, with its motto being: “united in diversity”. This motto shows that unity can and must exist in diversity.


A RIGHT TO WORK

Access to labour markets shouldn’t be a possibility for just a few, but a right for all EU citizens no matter their background or colour, says Evin Incir, Co-President of the ARDI Intergroup.

Racism and discrimination are some of the most sever forms of violence against our fundamental rights. We spend big parts of our adult life at our workplace. It’s the foundation of an emancipated life and paves the way for inclusive societies. Therefore, it’s essential that access to the labour market is not only a possibility for a few, but a right of for all citizens.

As an immigrant and a person of colour, who grew up in one of the suburbs of the Swedish city of Gothenburg, I was surrounded by a reality that I hope my future children will be protected from

As an immigrant and a person of colour, who grew up in one of the suburbs of the Swedish city of Gothenburg, I was surrounded by a reality that I hope my future children will be protected from. I grew up with my parents and my friends’ parents, battling to find their way into the labour market, as well as the housing market. Some succeeded, and some gave up after years of struggle. The stories my parents brought home formed my trust in society, or, should I say, my lack of trust. The struggle for equality and truly inclusive democratic societies has since then been my driving force to take my share of responsibility to change the world. Racism and discrimination were an everyday reality during my childhood, and today it still undermines all our societies in our union.


MEANINGFUL INCLUSION

Though Europe has become more diverse, Peter Pollack, Vice-President of the ARDI Intergroup, says more effort is needed to build a common understanding between different groups.

In recent years, we have made some progress in embracing diversity in our societies, but there is still a long way to go. The EU has become more and more a heterogeneous project, comprising people of different cultures, religions, races, ethnicities, and other backgrounds.

All of them deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and an equal opportunity. We should therefore bear in mind that pursuing diversity must go hand in hand with meaningful inclusion. Both require a lot of effort in building a common understanding. This is the only way to become truly 'united in diversity', as the EU motto states.


STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY

Samira Rafaela, Co-President of the ARDI Intergroup, calls for EU policies to be more diverse-sensitive and to reflect intersectionality.

We are not only stronger together, but our economies thrive and our societies flourish when we fully embrace this diversity. There are meaningful, ground-breaking developments currently taking place in the European Parliament. We have finally started considering intersectionality in our legislative work.

Policy has too long been made with only one type of European in mind

This will seriously impact the lives of all our citizens and their diverse communities. Policy has too long been made with only one type of European in mind. And we need to do more. If we want to make diversity-sensitive policies, this Parliament needs to become more diverse as well. We need to encourage genuine representation and make space for a new generation of politicians who adequately reflect the mosaic of Europe and our societies. This is our collective responsibility, and this will strengthen our democratic institutions and our mandate. The European Union is here for all its citizens.


NEW EQUALITIES DIRECTIVE NEEDED

With only one EU directive protecting equal employment, Mónica Silvana González, Co-President of the ARDI Intergroup, believes it’s time for new legislation that would guarantee equal opportunities in all aspects of society.

If the question is how the EU should achieve a more equal society, the answer definitely is a new directive covering all issues. Currently the EU has a directive only covering equal employment opportunities, but not one that guarantees equal opportunities in all aspects of society. The Council blocked a directive ten years ago in 2012, meaning it is no longer valid anymore.

We must work on a completely new piece of legislation to make sure that no one is left behind

Therefore, we should start over again to create a new one that is suitable for our current society. We must work on a completely new piece of legislation to make sure that no one is left behind. In this sense, we must consider intersectionality. The EU’s slogan is 'united in diversity', and intersectionality is diversity. With the new directive, we should push to achieve equality for those who face various forms of discrimination, and we should drive it from the European Parliament, the house of European democracy.


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