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EP session: debate on racial justice in the EU, or "right-wing sentiment" and the Polish-Ukrainian border

Published: 10.11.2022

Ordo Iuris

A report on "racial justice, non-discrimination and anti-racism in the EU" was presented in the European Parliament this morning. The draft resolution on the issue refers, among other things, to the alleged discrimination against people of different skin color allegedly taking place on the Polish-Ukrainian border. During the debate, it was emphasized that racism is allegedly institutional in some EU countries, not to mention the problems of assimilation of immigrants and the scale of crime associated with this process.

The problem of racism in the eyes of leftist politicians

The draft resolution, prepared by Swedish Euro-educated Evin Incir, reads that the initiative finds its justifications, among other things, "whereas racist, xenophobic and homo/transphobic movements and extremist ideologies, particularly far-right sentiments, are on the rise and continue to pose a serious threat to democratic societies in the EU and to the security of racial groups" (lit. F of the draft), and "whereas a number of cases of double standards and discrimination at EU borders on the basis of skin color, including more recently against some people fleeing the war in Ukraine, underscore the need to ensure equal treatment at EU borders" (letter J). Incir even points out that "women of different races are significantly overrepresented among those who prostitute themselves, which is both a consequence and a perpetuation of racism and sexism" (letter K).

On the occasion of the elections in France, Sweden and Italy, the EP has already repeatedly raised the issue of the "dangers" posed by the existence of views different from those represented by the majority of MEPs. The Institute reported on this in comments published after the debates.

Refugees discriminated against at the border?

Also unsurprising is the draft's reference to the fake news of alleged racial discrimination at the Polish-Ukrainian border during the period of the most intense movement after the February escalation of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Paragraph 13 of the draft reads that the EP "is concerned about reports of discriminatory and racist incidents at the borders against non-white skin color and minorities, such as Roma, and reminds member states of the right of every person to seek asylum and to be treated with respect under international law; reiterates that migration control and border control cannot be prioritized over the safety, rights and lives of people (...)." The draft's authors seem to forget that border control is not a value in itself, but serves precisely to protect the security, rights and lives of a country's population, while international and asylum law is based on specific procedures, which Poland in the case of both the Belarusian and Ukrainian borders follows.

However, it is difficult to find a logical justification for the thesis related to prostitution in view of the concept promoted by some EU countries according to which "sex work" is a job like any other. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, and is regulated by the Labor Code in Belgium as of June 2022.

Interestingly, the Incir report also states that some women are victims of "forced sterilization, contraception and abortion, which are harmful practices and forms of gender-based violence rooted in eugenic beliefs" (letter N). Such words from the mouth of a MEP belonging to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) are a rarity and - most likely - a certain lack of reflection in an otherwise correct diagnosis of the problem. This problem, however, does not apply only to women from discriminated minorities and not only to forced abortions, but to any abortion.

Real and imaginary problems

The debate that followed the report abounded in general assertions about the need to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination and the need to develop and introduce an action plan to concretize the methods and goals of this fight. What emerges from the MEPs' statements is a picture of European countries where racism is structural and even institutional. The most active participants in the debate chose not to mention the scale of crime or the unwillingness of some migrants to assimilate. The statements indicated that any inequality is solely the result of deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes. It was also pointed out that perpetrators of racial discrimination try to portray themselves as victims. 

It is worth noting the voice of French MEP Gilles Lebreton (ID), who pointed out that racism and discrimination should be fought against, while strongly criticizing the text of the proposed resolution, which "is a mixture of everything: structural racism, intersectional discrimination, negative stereotypes, linked to racial issues in the media and even structural 'skewing' of judicial decisions." Patryk Jaki (EKR) pointed out that when discussing discrimination and racism, it is worth leaning into the racism that takes place in the EU, such as in the context of the alleged lack of rule of law in Poland and the EU's explanations that it is due to "inferior culture and inferior traditions." He also spoke of financial discrimination against the entire Polish nation - motivated, in fact, solely by the EU's disagreement with the democratic choices made by Poles. Belgian MEP Assita Kanko (EKR) also began her speech by approving of some paragraphs of the draft resolution, while pointing out that the text contains many provisions for EU action within the framework of the competencies granted to member states. Belgian Tom Vandendriessche (ID), on the other hand, objected to the approach based on the assumption that any injustice affecting people of non-white skin color is conditioned and caused by the actions of "white" people. In his view, it is precisely such an assumption that is racist.

The debate ended with a speech by Cyrus Engerer (S&D) from Malta, who, after listening to several recent speeches, including those by Patryk Yaki, said that "it is unheard of what hatred pours from some speeches." In his view, racism should be removed "also here in the EP," which, in the context of the beginning of his statement, can be read as support for measures to exclude "right-wing" voices from the European debate. The statement is a kind of bracket for the debate, which MEP Juan Lopez Aguilar (S&D) used at the very beginning to once again talk about the "disturbing" and "growing" discourse of the "far right" in the EP - but he did not indicate what really concerns him.

The vote on the draft resolution will most likely take place at the next EP plenary session. We will report on the results of the vote.

Anna Kubacka - analyst at the Ordo Iuris Center for International Law

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