Open letter to European Commission President von der Leyen: EU Anti-Racism Summit recommendations

Brussels, 17 February 2021 – ENAR, EQUINOX, and 80+ organisations across Europe co-signed this open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with our recommendations ahead of the Anti-Racism EU Summit.

Open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

We call on the European Commission to seriously consider our recommendations

Dear President von der Leyen,

We, the undersigned, are writing as organisations working on social and racial justice in Europe to put forward our recommendations ahead of the first EU Summit on Anti-Racism on 19th March 2021.

Following the global uprisings in support of Black Lives Matter and the denouncement of racist violence and police brutality, we were pleased to witness a much-awaited urgency and commitment from European Union leaders to address racism in all forms in Europe. It is vital that this moment is seized and there is a sustained commitment from European leaders to address structural racism in Europe and uphold the ethos of the EU motto, “united in diversity.”

We urge the organisers of the upcoming EU Summit on Anti-Racism to ensure that issues of structural and institutional racism frame the discussions and lead to strong policies and actions. As such, we recommend the following steps be taken by the European Commission and Portuguese Presidency to the EU in the lead up to the EU Summit:

1. Ensure sustained and meaningful participation of racialised groups and anti-racist civil society

The success of the upcoming summit will depend on the extent to which EU leaders adequately and meaningfully engage with those directly affected by racism in Europe. As the primary experts on the structures and manifestations of racism, we must be actively included in the development of the upcoming agenda, priorities and outcomes, and as speakers at the EU summit to ensure that these processes meet the needs of our communities effectively. Policies and procedures developed about us must directly include us and especially the underrepresented members of our communities such as LGBTIQ communities, women, persons with disabilities, persons without documents, and religious minorities. This is increasingly urgent considering the under-representation of racial and ethnic minorities amongst EU policymakers.

2. Focus on the institutional and structural dimensions of racism in Europe

As a key milestone in the successful implementation of the EU Anti-Racism Action Plan (ARAP), we believe that the agenda of the upcoming summit should explicitly include discussions about the root causes of racism in Europe, to lay the ground for future meaningful actions to address these. As such, we strongly recommend the EU Anti-Racism Summit focuses on:

The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racialised communities. We have seen that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted those already marginalised in broader society. COVID-19 has widened inequalities and we believe that the summit presents an opportunity to discuss the structural and institutional causes of these inequalities.

Discriminatory laws and policies. For too long, governments and institutions have promoted laws and policies that increase racism and socio-economic inequality. We need to understand how these laws and policies are connected to historical oppression and how they prevent real justice and equality.

Violence and accountability by state actors/agencies. The core feature of the current political moment is how our societies respond to historical and ongoing incidents of discrimination and violence by state agencies such as law enforcement against our communities. This includes outlining concrete steps for accountability and justice.

Recognition and redress for histories of injustice against racialised people. A key feature of the European racial justice movement has been to call for recognition and meaningful redress for histories of enslavement, genocide and colonialism and how they lead to structural inequalities today. As many EU countries have still not advanced meaningful processes for redress, this issue must be addressed if we are committed to tackling rising racism and inequalities in our society.

3. Secure public commitments to address structural racism, including concrete support to anti-racist human rights defenders in Europe

Lastly, we believe that it is vital that the EU summit leads to concrete commitments to secure a successful implementation of the ARAP and lead to positive outcomes for racialised communities in Europe, including:

  • A. Summit conclusions outlining Member States’ support to the implementation of the ARAP and National Action Plans against Racism;
  • B. Advisory body of representatives of racialised communities and racial justice leaders working with the EU on the implementation of the ARAP and ensure the meaningful participation of civil society organisations and other stakeholders in the design and implementation of future EU laws and policies;
  • C. Commitment to further national efforts to collect equality data disaggregated by race to track and measure improvement on political, social and economic indicators;
  • D. Specific funding priorities and monitoring to ensure EU funds (including COVID-19 recovery funds) promote racial justice and improve the socio-economic conditions of racialised communities.

We look forward to your response as to how such recommendations will be included in the upcoming EU Summit on Anti-Racism.



European Network Against Racism is the pan-European network combining racial equality advocacy with building a strong network of anti-racist organisations across Europe. We ensure that laws and policies address racism and reflect the experiences of racialised people.

Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice is a people of colour-led initiative working to advance rights and justice for all people in Europe. We work in solidarity with a coalition of racial and social justice leaders and organisations to influence European Union law and policy.


1. Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland
2. Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform (ADEPT)
3. Àltera
4. Anti-Racist Forum ry
5. ANTIGONE – Information and Documentation Centre on Racism, Ecology, Peace and Non Violence
6. Apna Haq
7. Arciragazzi Portici ‘Utopia Attanasio’ APS
8. Asociación Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos- AMDEH
9. Asociación Nacional Presencia Gitana
11. Center for Intersectional Justice
12. Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
13. Centre for Peace Studies
14. Centre for peace, nonviolence and human rights-osijek
15. Changemakers Lab
16. Churches´Commission for Migrants in Europe CCME
17. Collective Against Islamophobia in Belgium
18. Diaconia ECCB – Centre of Relief and Development
19. Estonian Human Rights Centre
20. European Anti-Poverty Network
21. European Disability Forum
22. European Network for People of African Descent (ENPAD)
23. European Network of Women of African Descent (ENWAD)
24. European Network On Religion and Belief
25. European Race and Imagery Foundation
26. European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network
27. European Youth Forum
28. Faces of Migration project
29. Fair Trials
30. Fem-R
31. Filipino Women’s Council
33. Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO)
34. Greek Forum of Migrants
35. Greek Forum of Refugees
36. Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
37. Hand in Hand Against Racism
38. HumanRights360
39. ICMC Europe
40. ILGA-Europe
42. Inequalities Research Network
43. Inicijativa mladih za ljudska prava
44. Institute Circle
45. Instituto de Asuntos Culturales, España
46. International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR)
47. KISA- Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism
48. Le CRAN (Conseil représentatif des associations noires)
49. Legal Centre Lesvos
50. Lithuanian Centre for Human Rights
51. Mångkulturellt centrum
52. Maruf
53. Migrant Tales
54. Mobile Info Team
55. Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI)
56. Network for Children’s Rights
57. Open Society European Policy Institute
58. Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
59. Povod, Institute for culture and development of international relations in culture
60. PPAD (Plateforme pour préventions, actions et lutte contre toutes les formes de vulnérabilités et de discriminations)
61. Rasmus ry – Association Against Racism and Xenophobia
62. Red Española de Inmigracion y Ayuda al Refugiado
63. Refugee Legal Support (RLS)
64. Refugee Rights Europe
65. Refugees International
66. Rehabilitation Center for Stress and Trauma
67. Revibra Europe
68. Roma Community Centre
69. Romano Kher
70. SHARE Network
71. SIEMPRE – Support Networking for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Belgium.
72. Solidarity Overseas Service Malta (SOS Malta)
73. SOS Racisme Danmark
74. Stichting Ocan
75. Symbiosis-School of Political Studies in Greece, Council of Europe Network of Schools
76. Teskedsorden
77. The Czech Helsinki Committee
78. The Pan African Movement for Justice
79. Transgender Europe (TGEU)
80. Trans United Europe/ BPOC Trans network
81. Velferdsalliansen EAPN Norway
82. European Forum of Muslim Women (EFOMW)
83. New Women Connectors
84. Forum per cambiare l’ordine delle cose

Download the letter in pdf format

Attached documents


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