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  • Writer's picturePierrette Herzberger-Fofana

What place for diversity in the future of the European Union?

Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana is a German-Malian politician of Alliance 90/The Greens and member of the European Parliament.

Diversity within the European Union

Diversity is an essential element of the European Union's identity, being present even in its motto: "united in diversity".

This motto shows that unity can exist in diversity. However, we note that the reality is quite different.

Indeed, diversity, when it is not simply limited to gender parity, be it in governance at national or European level, should appear in all areas.

There is a notable lack of representation of minorities in our institutions, which do not reflect the daily reality of people living in Europe. It is therefore necessary to change this state of affairs in order to achieve a more open, more diverse and more inclusive society in Europe. "A Europe for all".

The European Parliament's ARDI Intergroup on Anti-Racism and Diversity was one of the initiatives most involved in the development of the EU's first anti-racism policy document, the“Anti-Racism Action Plan (2020-25)”. However, it would seem that the implementation of an anti-racism policy is proving difficult, as there is a lack of political will and public recognition of the problem. We thus need to focus our efforts at the national and continental level so that member states take ownership of this action plan and implement it in their own countries.

The Commission has outlined guidelines for member states to follow. We would like to see ethnic minority communities included in the process of developing anti-racism policies. They must be involved in order to improve in the implementation of the action plan. Their active participation could be a major asset that would foster the emergence of real leadership from members of all communities and cultural groups of diverse origins, and could lead to real solidarity. The appointment of the new European Union Anti-Racism Coordinator is a major step forward, and is the result of both our demands and long advocacy efforts with the President of the Commission and Commissioner Helena Dalli. We are delighted to see that our demands yielded results.

What about gender diversity ?

One of the main focuses of our gender equality work is intersectional feminism.

Intersectionality refers to the situation of people who experience multiple forms of discrimination simultaneously. The invisibility of minority women in today's socio-political landscape requires further discussion. These women in particular are victim of intersectional inequalities, social exclusion, racism, sexism, and access to resources, and social services.

In addition, they have been particularly affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are subject to intersectional discrimination in areas such as employment, education, access to housing, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Minority women with professional qualifications rarely have the opportunity to hone their skills through employment that matches their intellectual level or qualifications. We insist that they be allowed to move up the social ladder. To do this, they should be given the chance to train in the fields of their choice.

The Commission's strategy on gender equality has clearly underlined the need for an intersectional approach in policy making.

Inclusion of citizens in the decision-making process

In the ARDI (Anti-Racism and Diversity) Intergroup, we are the voice of our communities. That is why we work in agreement with different non-governmental organisations and use our position to address issues on the ground that affect the most marginalised people in society.

It is necessary to respond proactively to diversity in all its complexity. That is why we have asked all the actors of the conference to allow for the participation of all people, including those from specific cultural and ethnic minorities, and to ensure that they are equally represented.

The debate on racism is a debate that impacts all parts of society. It is not just limited to those who experience it. We must promote a dialogue on all forms of racism if we are to eradicate it.

The main concern of civil society organisations is that the Conference on the Future of Europe will lead to further marginalisation of citizens who are already excluded from the whole process.

Furthermore, no quotas have been set to facilitate adequate representation of under-represented groups such as visible minorities and those claiming a protected characteristic, whether sexual orientation, religion, disabilities, as well as the elderly, and single-parent families. The same is true of migrants who do not hold a European passport and non-binary people. All of them seem to be excluded from the workshops.

It is only through civil society actions that their voice can be heard. This is why we wonder if the Commission will support civil society organisations, especially those that are silenced by governments and struggle for survival.

The implementation of the EU's anti-racism agenda remains one of our priorities. Together with civil society actors, we are working to create the conditions for the implementation of the EU action plan. It is indeed essential for us that our work has a positive impact on the citizens of Europe.

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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