BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission pledged on Friday to take tougher action against member states failing to fully implement EU anti-racism laws, in a move reflecting global outrage at police violence against African Americans in the United States.
Launching its first anti-racism action plan, the Commission said the initiative allows so-called infringement actions, a process that can involve the Commission taking an offending country to the EU Court of Justice.
“We know that progress to fight racism and hate in Europe is not good enough,” Vera Jourova, the EU Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, told reporters in Brussels. “The protests sent a clear message – change must happen now.”
It is a “moment of reckoning” for Europeans, where racism can no longer be ignored, she said.
The May 25 death of black American George Floyd in police custody has led to weeks of protests in the United States against racism and policy brutality, and prompted more European citizens to challenge discrimination in society.
Under the plan, the 27 EU nations would face closer scrutiny, investigations and possible infringement procedures if the European measures are not correctly applied.
The Commission has also called for a “new approach on equality data collection” to get a better picture of discrimination in Europe and to push the bloc to collect data about racial or ethnic origin.
The EU Commission also plans to review its existing rules to guarantee they are strict enough and possibly present new legal measures in the next five years.
EU institutions, including the Commission and European Central Bank, have themselves come under fire from critics for being excessively white and sometimes racist.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in June that she was aware of the lack of black staff and commissioners in the bloc’s executive.
(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine, Editing by William Maclean)