The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reports that people of African descent are facing ever more racism in the EU

On 25 October 2023, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its  second “Being Black in the EU” report, which compiles the experiences of people of African descent in Europe. The first report in 2018 highlighted the deep-rooted and widespread racism in Europe against people of African descent. This second FRA report provides new data that reveals increasing discrimination and violence experienced by migrants and descendants of migrants of African descent (Sub-Saharan Africa) residing in 13 countries of the EU, including Spain.

The report stresses that the 5 years that separate this research and the first edition have been marked by the Black Lives Matter movement and the global mobilisation to tackle racism and promote racial justice.  Furthermore, progress has been made at institutional level with the European Commission adopting its  first EU Anti-Racism Action Plan 2020-2025. However, to quote the FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty, “it is shocking to see no improvement. Instead, people of African descent face ever more discrimination just because of the colour of their skin." The main conclusions are as follows:

  • Racial discrimination – 45% of respondents say they experienced racial discrimination in the 5 years before the survey, up on the 39% in the previous study. Moreover, discrimination remains invisible as only 9% of the victims report those incidents and very few reports are filed with an equality body. In Spain, only 4% of the people surveyed had reported or filed a complaint after having suffered a racist incident.  Furthermore, the lack of knowledge of the equality bodies or specialised support organisations is noteworthy.
  • Racist harassment – 30% say they experienced racist harassment, and most victims of racist violence suffer from psychological after-effects and fear they will be attacked again. Spain stands out for being among the countries with the lowest percentage of people concerned about the likelihood of suffering racist harassment or violence in public. 
  • Use of racial or ethnic profiling by the police - Over half of the people of African descent believe that their most recent police stop was a result of racial profiling. Spain, after Italy, is the country with the highest rates of racial profiling by the police.  
  • Employment - Many people of African descent have low-skilled jobs, and one out of every three have a temporary contract and lack job security. Spain has the lowest paid employment rates for people of African descent; particularly noteworthy is the pay gap between women and men (25 points); and for being the country with the highest percentage of temporary contracts (45%).  Furthermore, Spain and Sweden stand out for the poorest data regarding the number of young people (16-24 years old) surveyed who do not work, or study, or are in education; and the rate is nearly double the one for the general population. 
  • Rising inflation and cost of living have put more people of African descent at higher risk of poverty, compared to the general population. A third find it had to make ends meet. In Spain, nearly half the people surveyed struggled to make ends meet.

The Agency makes a series of recommendations in the report, which are aimed at EU countries in order to help to combat racism and discrimination effectively. Special mention should be made of the following.

  • Properly enforce anti-discrimination legislation as well as effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
  • Identify and record hate crimes, and consider bias motivation as an aggravating circumstance when determining penalties.
  • Collect equality data, including on ‘ethnic or racial origin’ to assess the situation and monitor progress.
  • Ensure that equality bodies have the necessary mandates and resources to tackle discrimination and support victims.
  • Adopt measures to prevent and eradicate discriminatory institutional practices and culture in policing, drawing on the FRA's Guide on Preventing Unlawful Profiling (2018).
  • Develop specific policies to address racism and racial discrimination in education, employment, housing and healthcare.

This year, the Ararteko has published its  “Discrimination and Anti-discrimination Public Policies in the Basque Autonomous Community study, in order to highlight the need for public policies to combat discrimination and racism in the Basque Country.  The Ararteko study concurs with the FRA report, as it stresses the difficulties to access housing for groups that experience discrimination and are at risk of residential segregation. Moreover, the recommendations of both studies stress the desirability of prioritising, among other matters,  measures to prevent, protect and remedy discriminatory behaviour, and additionally  administrative complaints or reporting incidents with judicial authorities; the need for information, advice and mentoring for people likely to experience discrimination and for victims of discriminatory or racist incidents; the importance of preparing specific measures for people to identify people; and, finally, of highlighting the need for  analyses to design public policies and compiling desegregated data on equality.