|First visit of European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice to the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)
On 22 June 2006 European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice today the EU’s Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia in Vienna, underlining its important role in the EU’s fight against racism and thanking the staff for their work over the last eight years. Vice-President Frattini also participated in the EU seminar on combating racism and xenophobia, held under the auspices of the Austrian Presidency of the EU and co-organised by the Commission and the EUMC.
Meeting with the Chairperson of the EUMC Management Board Anastasia Crickley, with EUMC Director Beate Winkler and the agency’s 37 staff members, Vice-President Frattini underlined the important role of the EUMC as provider of data and information on racism and xenophobia, and hence in the EU’s fight against racism.
Vice-President Frattini: “The European Union, which by its very nature aims to deepen solidarity and unity between peoples, must be – and is - at the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism and discrimination. This is why the EU established the EUMC as a specialised centre of competence with the task to monitor racism and xenophobia across the EU, and to formulate opinions on how to combat these phenomena. The EUMC has made a very strong contribution and provided the Union with a better understanding of how far we have come in reaching our standards and values relating to equality and respect.”
Vice-President Frattini added: “The EUMC’s important work on racism and xenophobia will remain a key priority after its transformation into the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency.”
Anastasia Crickley said: “Racism remains a major challenge for Europe. The collective experiences of fighting racism collated by the EUMC provide a sound basis for the development of practical and workable anti-racism strategies. Crucial for the EUMC, and for the future Fundamental Rights Agency is the integration of the independent voice of civil society. Their message is clear: An inclusive Europe based on justice and equality requires strong legislation, the political will essential for its implementation, and full participation by civil society voices.”
Beate Winkler: “Over the eight years of its existence, the EUMC has built up a lot of knowledge and capacity in tackling intolerance. This expertise is particularly important now as we see an upsurge of racist incidents in some parts of Europe. We therefore urge politicians to make the combat against racism a priority. We call on EU Governments to give it a clear political signal by strengthening the EU’s common legal framework through a Council Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia.”
As Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice, Vice-President Frattini is responsible for the EU’s action against racism and xenophobia. In this function he attended the EU Seminar on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, which took place on 20-22 June in Vienna. The Seminar sought to reopen the discussion on the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on Racism and Xenophobia, which would ensure that racist and xenophobic behaviour is punishable as a criminal offence in all EU Member States.