The European Parliament voted today for a report, authored by a Labour MEP, that calls for EU action to fight racism and discrimination to promote a stronger, more inclusive and tolerant society.
The report builds on the common agreement (known as the Paris Declaration) reached by Europe's education ministers following the Charlie Hebdo and Danish attacks in 2015 that recognises joint efforts are needed by national governments in order to prevent and tackle marginalisation, intolerance, racism and extremism, and also to preserve a framework of equal opportunities for all.
Concrete recommendations for action at all governmental levels are made, including the increased use of culture in external actions and in the EU development agenda, highlighting the unique role arts, culture, inclusive learning and active citizenship can play in building strong, confident, resilient and cohesive communities for the future.
Julie Ward MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on culture and education, and author of the report, said:
"Recent events such as the refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks in Paris highlight the growing importance of the need for intercultural dialogue, and remind us Europe must tackle these common challenges and promote its fundamental values through mechanisms promoting positive person-to-person communication and exchange.
"Education and intercultural dialogue are crucial. Children are not born to hate, so tackling things from an early age is vital. We are sometimes afraid of 'otherness' and the best way to address this is to be in dialogue with people, to share different perspectives and practices.
"The populist and extreme right narrative promotes the idea that somebody else is always to blame for the world's problems. The conflation of migrants with refugees has resulted in a culture of fear. However, when people come together and talk honestly and share in each other's culture, they learn that we're all human beings with common aspirations and concerns.
"During the recent devastating floods in my North West region the much maligned Muslim community were amongst the first to offer practical aid and moral support to remote rural communities, countering the growing Islamophobia through spontaneous intercultural dialogue born out of true compassion."
The report has support from civil society, NGOs, agencies and practitioners.