In a recent Guardian article Sarah Chander, Advocacy Officer at the European Network Against Racism, said that she was worried that “the future of Europe is white”.
Migration has made Europe more diverse, but representation in European Union (EU) institutions has not become so.
Here in the United Kingdom (UK), the vote to leave the EU has radically reformed our relationship with the EU and forced us to grapple with our own national identity.
Three in four black voters and two in three Asian voters chose Remain – but that does not give us any indication of their motivations.
The ‘Vote Leave’ campaign was outwardly xenophobic, using anxiety about migration and ‘cultural change’ as thinly veiled proxies for race.
The Leave campaign utilised racist rhetoric and imagery to stoke fears about immigration, the now infamous “breaking point” poster that Nigel Farage the epitome example.
The campaign has given increased social sanction and space for hate crime and prejudice to thrive.
A report by The Runnymede Trust in 2015 found that ethnic minorities felt ambivalent about the benefits of the EU.
They appear less likely to take advantage of free movement; i.e. very few move about for work and (arguably) feel less ‘solidarity’ or ‘shared identity’ with others in Europe.
Some view Europe in explicitly ethnic or racial terms, identifying ‘Fortress Europe’ as a way of keeping out non-white immigrants while allowing significant levels of European migration.
Our research found that the benefits of freedom of movement, do not resonate as strongly with black, Asian and ethnic minority Britons.
Firstly, some European member states have worse relations and more ethnic inequality than the UK.
Member states like Hungary, Italy or Austria, have a politically powerful far right. It may not be as attractive for minorities to move there.
Further, it freedm of movement is also a right that is less accessible to people on low-incomes or without a second language.
The Europe I want takes seriously the respect of minority rights, affirming article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which lists the common values upon which the Union is founded.
This would require all Member States to be held to account on their treatment of minorities, including Western European states that are quick to criticise others while reneging on their own commitments to minority communities.
It would enable and facilitate citizens to access their rights, such as freedom of movement, by sponsoring language learning in low-income areas and expanding the Erasmus programme.
It would encourage an active citizenship that gave space for multiple identities. It would have a fair, progressive and distributive immigration system with the non-EU states.
Beyond the bureaucracy of Brussels, it would communicate its benefits in a way that makes sense, highlighting how it improves local communities.
Then we might begin to rebuild faith in the project.
“Happy 6th anniversary to New Europeans! To another 6 years and beyond, pushing for rights, solidarity and non-discrimination across Europe and beyond.”
About the author:
Kimberly McIntosh is a senior policy officer at the Runnymede Trust
New Europeans is a pan-European civil rights organisation based in Brussels and London.
We are a membership association which champions the rights or EU citizens and works for a Europe of the citizens, a Europe of equality and social justice, anchored in human rights. We are members of the European Civic Forum and the Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Europe. In 2019 we won the Schwarzkopf Europe Award.
New Europeans was launched on 18 June 2013.
To celebrate our sixth anniversary we asked six young writers to write a blog about the #EuropeWeWant
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