- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Racial violence and ethnic discrimination in housing, education, employment and law pose major problems throughout the 25-nation European Union, according to a new report released yesterday by the bloc’s racism-monitoring agency.

Tracking the scope of the problem is difficult because many European nations fail to provide even basic data on racial violence and other forms of discrimination, according to the latest annual survey by the Vienna, Austria-based European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia.

“Certain immigrant and ethnic-minority groups continue to be particularly vulnerable to racist and xenophobic victimization — both at the hands of the general public and at the hands of public officials,” the report said.

Vulnerable groups include “asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants, Roma, Jews and Muslims.”

“In spite of some heartening examples of good practice, I stand here today unable to say that there has been a substantial improvement with regard to racism and xenophobia in the EU member states,” Chairwoman Anastasia Crickley told reporters in Vienna.

Long-standing problems of dealing with minorities across Europe have been greatly exacerbated in recent years by an influx of Muslim migrant workers across the continent. The presence of large Muslim communities, often in poor, segregated enclaves, has produced political, economic and cultural clashes.

The monitoring center said it is difficult to judge the effectiveness of anti-racial programs because many EU states fail to collect adequate data. Some states, such as France, actively resist collecting such data, refusing to classify their citizens by race or ethnic origin.

Only two EU states — Britain and Finland — have full-scale tracking programs to monitor racially based crime. Five countries — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain — did not furnish any statistics on racist crime to the monitoring committee.

In general, the report said, the better a country’s reporting system, the more likely it is to report higher levels of racist violence and crime.

Similar information gaps exist in gauging the extent of ethnic and racial discrimination in such fields as education and housing.

The report also found that segregation persists in EU classrooms and neighborhoods.

Migrant and minority groups “are overrepresented in poor-quality accommodations, often concentrated in relatively segregated geographical areas,” the report concluded. “This often reflects not only a lack of access to resources, but also active discrimination on the part of gatekeepers.”

While anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents have generated headlines in recent years, the report found that Europe’s Gypsies, also known as Roma, continue to be the target of active and passive discrimination.

“In a number of countries, immigrants and Roma live in poorer and more precarious dwellings than the national average,” according to the report. “Immigrant and Roma households are likely to face more discrimination in the housing market than the indigenous population.”

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