Have member states of the European Union made progress this last year in the protection of minority groups?
It would seem that the answer to this question is not particularly straightforward if you read the EU’s Fundamental Rights Report 2019.
Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency presents a fairly gloomy picture across Europe:
“Fundamental rights alarm bells are ringing across the EU as inequalities, harassment and prejudices continue to grow. … We need robust responses outlining how rights benefit us all and provide the answers to the inequalities that are holding us back from a fair and just society where everyone can prosper.”
Across the EU, there are Governments in power (Hungary and Italy particularly) which promote strongly anti-immigrant messages. Until recently, the far-right Freedom Party was part of the coalition government of former Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Austria. In France, Germany and Spain, we have witnessed rising levels of support for far right parties such as the Front National, AfD and Vox respectively.
Other European countries have witnessed similar trends and did well in the recent European Parliament elections in May 2019.
We are not immune from such trends in the UK with many people being suspicious of the motivations of the Brexit Party and UKIP (despite denials to the contrary by the leaderships of these organisations that they are not far right movements).
In essence, the conclusions of the Fundamental Rights Report 2019 are as follows:
- The levels of racial discrimination and harassment across the EU remain stubbornly high e.g. Black, Jewish and Roma people continue to report discrimination and harassment in their daily lives;
- A significant percentage of Europeans (40%) consider immigration to be a problem and these individuals over-estimate the levels of (actual or true) immigration to the EU;
- The number of children in poverty has decreased, but at 25% this figure is a still a cause for concern with certain groups (Roma children) being particularly affected.
A link to the Fundamental Rights Report 2019 can be found below:
Copyright Seán J Crossan, 10 June 2019