The communities in Europe most vulnerable to discrimination and racism continue to be immigrants and other ethnic minorities, especially Black Africans and Roma. The newer migrants from within the European Economic Area (EEA) also experience hostility. The public perception of ethnic minorities in most countries remains a negative one: ethnic minorities, particularly immigrants or those with a migrant background, are often accused of stealing job opportunities, working for less pay, benefitting from social services, while they and Roma are further blamed for rising crime. Political parties are seen as complicit in promoting negative stereotypes of immigrants and stirring up racial tension to serve their own purposes. It is disturbing that neo- Nazism continues to hold sway in some countries and that in most countries the racist narrative still resonates with the general public.
The special focus section on Muslim communities in Europe, the first pan-European qualitative survey of this particular group,1 confirms that they are not a homogeneous group, but vary according to their ethnic and national origins as well as social class in the different national contexts. Statistical evidence of discrimination against Muslims is often uneven because not all countries collect such data. Nevertheless, Islamophobia is widespread and increasing prejudice towards Muslims is often greater than that experienced by other religious or ethnic minority groups. Islamophobia can take the form of opposition to, as well as protests against, the building of mosques, criminal damage to Islamic buildings and violence towards Muslims. Muslims continue to experience discrimination in all the collective areas covered in this report and Muslim women and girls are often affected the most by religious discrimination and hatred because of treatment towards them due to their attire. In some countries, wearing the full veil in public is prohibited.
There have been few significant legal developments in this reporting period. A worrying trend to emerge is the active scaling back of anti-discrimination measures which is largely, but not exclusively, a result of the economic crisis. There are concerns that public spending cuts have undermined further the effectiveness of anti-discrimination law and policy.
The period under review was an exceptional one for migration as a result of the Arab Spring, which was felt more acutely in Italy and Malta. Aside from the Arab Spring, irregular migration continues to be perceived as a chronic problem and a major route into the EU. The
response of most countries to irregular migration has been to criminalise and detain migrants, which is a major concern for NGOs. Despite this, a number of countries have adopted laws to implement Council Directive 2009/50/EC, allowing for ‘blue cards’ to ease the process of highly skilled migrants entering and moving within the EU to work and live.
Eight countries adopted integration polices and strategies during the reporting period and most countries have implemented and filed with the European Commission their National Roma Integration Strategies. Although NGOs have welcomed these integration strategies in general, they have also been critical about some countries’ lax descriptions for reporting, monitoring, funding and implementing these strategies.
Full report: racism in Europe