Von der Leyen: Embrace Diversity in Anti-Racism Week

European Commission

Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Representatives of anti-racism organisations from all across Europe,

There is a poisonwithin our societies. It’s racism. It’s in our workplaces, in our streets, in our stadiums.Too often, it is in the speeches of some politicians, and it is in our institutions.

Racism makes the life of some people among us a constant struggle, against discrimination and prejudice. But it also hurts all of us, as communities. We have all heard the stories of talented and qualified people who cannot get a good job because of how they look, or because of their surname.

And this is a loss not just for them, but for all of us.

Diversity can be a great asset.Companies and scientists are more successful when they include diverse perspectives and experiences. When they use the strengths of all people who want to contribute.

The dignity of every single person who lives with us equally stands for the dignity of our great continent.

I want Europe to be better. I want Europe to be a place where there’s no place for racism.

At the beginning of this mandate we said: We must talk about racism in Europe. And we must act on it. And we have kept our word.

Today our Union has its first Action Plan against racism. We have appointed our first anti-racism coordinator. We have set out the first European strategy to fight anti-semitism and foster Jewish life in Europe, and a new European Roma Strategy. And we have appointed a new anti-Muslim hatred coordinator. We have also proposed to include hate crimes and hate speech in the list of EU crimes that must be sanctioned all across our Union.

Because using race and colour as a slur is not free speech. It is a criminal offence.

This is the broadest set of anti-racism actions in the history of our Union. It is a message to Europeans of all colours, faiths and backgrounds. You belong in Europe.This is your flag. This is your home.

But there is still a huge gap to fill between policy and reality. There is more to do in our institutions, to understand and fight structural racism. And there is more to do in every sector of our societies.

We must all call out on the daily episodes of racism. We must be ready to question ourselves, our biases, our privilege and prejudice. We must all be ready to change. And this requires daily work that we can only do together, joining forces across countries, across political divides.

And with those, like you who are here today, who are already making a difference inside our communities. You know the reality of racism better than anyone else. But you also know how people of different backgrounds contribute to the daily life of European communities, and make Europe a better place. You know that many Europeans live diversity as a daily reality. A reality where the only thing that matters is who you are.

I want Europe to be like them. Not in some distant future, but already today. Let’s us work together for an anti-racist Europe.

I wish you all a great EU Anti-Racism and Diversity Week.

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