Letter: Measures against racism in the European Community

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The Independent Online
Sir: Jacques Delors' assurance ('EC 'will extend role to race relations' ', 29 April) that 'much of what the Commission does within its designated working areas more or less directly affects the fight against racism and xenophobia' is welcome as far as it goes. It also draws attention to the limits of the EC treaties with regard to this key human rights issue. Discrimination on grounds of nationality or gender is forbidden under EC law, but not racial discrimination.

This is a topic of legitimate concern. Many unpleasant instances have been reported of non-white UK citizens and others having experienced discrimination, harassment or violence while travelling in other EC countries, whether to take advantage of EC freedom of movement provisions or simply as tourists.

Legislation banning such discrimination and providing for measures to promote good relations between people of different races and ethnic groups is urgently needed. Yet, as the European Commissioner Vasso Papandreou informed the European Parliament last October, no suitable legal base exists in the present treaties, nor indeed in Maastricht.

This omission must be corrected in the next round of treaty revisions in 1996, on which we are told work has already started in the Foreign Office and the Cabinet Office. With our experience of race relations legislation, the United Kingdom is well placed to take the initiative.

Yours sincerely,



International Relations Committee

European Movement UK

London, SW1

29 April