Unia reacts to the report on discrimination by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)

6 December 2017
Grounds of discrimination: RacismReligious or philosophical beliefs

Out of all survey-respondents of North African and Turkish origin who experienced discrimination in the past year in Belgium, 20% said it had occurred on the job market, while the European average on this point is 12%. This figure was brought to Unia’s attention in the Second EU-MIDIS report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). ‘However, the participants in the study in Belgium have a higher rate of awareness of the possibility to file a discrimination complaint with an organisation such as Unia, than respondents in other countries.’

‘The report indicates that 48% of the respondents living in Belgium are aware of the option for victims of discrimination to contact Unia, a proportion that is above the European average (38%). ‘Which is necessary, because judging from the figures in this report, there is still much work to be done here,’ said Unia director Els Keytsman.

Need for practical tests

‘Missing out on job opportunities because of one's background is unacceptable. Of those surveyed, a full 40% report having experienced this in the past five years. We believe that targeted practical tests could play a major role in addressing the problem. We would therefore like to see these practical tests explicitly incorporated into the antidiscrimination legislation. Having a legal framework would prevent the so-called witch-hunt atmosphere that some fear the practical tests would ignite. This framework would allow practical tests to be conducted if there are objective indications of discrimination. A job is not only about work. It’s also about belonging and contributing to society,’ added Keytsman.

More harassment in Belgium

‘A painful difference between the Belgian respondent and the average European respondent is also found in the experience of harassment based on ethnicity or migration background. The European average on this point is 24%. In Belgium the percentage is in fact 32%,’ according to Keytsman.

Strong connection

But Unia has also found some more positive news in the FRA study. For example, over 73% of the participants report feeling strong ties to Belgium, while the European average is only 67%. ‘A sense of connection is an important element for feeling like a true citizen,’ Keytsman concluded.

About the report

The FRA report was based on interviews with 25,515 people from the 28 EU member states. The FRA based the results for Belgium on 1,339 interviews, with all of the respondents being first and second-generation immigrants with North African or Turkish roots.

Click here for the full report.

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