EU-MIDIS II: White Europe’s tacit approval and silence of ethnic discrimination

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Should we be surprised by a new EU-MIDIS II report that concludes that discrimination of people of Sub-Sharan African origin suffered the most discrimination in Luxembourg and Finland (50% and 45%, respectively)?  Matters aren’t that rosy elsewhere either. People with North African backgrounds endured the most discrimination in the Netherlands (49%), and the Roma reported the most discrimination in countries like Greece and Portugal (48% and 47%, respectively).

Contrarily, the report revealed that the lowest rates of discrimination by respondents were people of Russian origin living in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (7%, 6%, and 4%, respectively).

Finland has published in the past quite a few comprehensive studies about different ethnic and national groups like the Somalis. The EU-MIDIS II findings, however, are by no means a surprise.

Read the full report here.

Touko Aalto, the chairperson of the Greens, is the only politician in Finland who commented on the EU-MIDIS II report.

“Today there’s been news about the latest EU report, which claims that is is one of the most prejudiced countries in Europe,” Aalto wrote on his Facebook wall. “The non-discrimination ombudsman [Kirsi Pimiä] commented that the [EU-MIDIS II] report is a clear indication that there is a lot of racism in Finland.”

Even if we know that racism is a social ill that affects a lot of migrants and minorities, especially from Sub-Saharan Africa, the big question is what is the government going to do, if anything? At this moment, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government has had a dismal record on racism.

Jean Marc Alngue, NGO Liikkukaa – Sports for All project manager and a native of Chad, said that the EU-MIDIS report ringed a bell.

“If you want to be a part of Finnish society, you have to go through a lot of different steps,” he said. “For some, like Sub-Saharan Africans, those steps are tainted with prejudice. I believe that there is a lot of structural racism in Finland that must be challenged. Even if we speak a lot about equality in Finland, the truth is that there is inequality.”

Other EU countries where Sub-Saharan nationals experienced high rates of discrimination were Austria (42%) and Denmark (42%), with the lowest reported in Portugal (17%) and the United Kingdom (15%).


“In the 12 months preceding the survey, women of Sub-Saharan African descent experienced higher levels of discrimination than men of the same background in Denmark (women: 45 %, men: 40 %), Finland (women: 48 %, men: 43 %), France (women: 31 %, men: 26 %), and Italy (women: 29 %, men: 19 %). By contrast, the 12-month discrimination rate for men of Sub-Saharan African descent is twice as high as that for women in Austria (men: 49 %, women: 21 %), and is also higher in Luxembourg (men: 54 %, women: 45 %), Portugal (men: 20 %, women: 14 %) and Sweden (men: 39 %, women: 36 %).By contrast, in Finland, more first-generation than second-generation respondents from this group felt discriminated against because of their ethnic or immigrant background (including skin colour and religion) in the 12 months before the survey (46 % vs 40 %).”

The report noted that respondents who feel discriminated against tended to report more often to the police in Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. However, the report revealed that only 21% of the respondents in Finland had heard of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and 38% the Ombudsman for Equality.

The report found that a minority of Sub-Saharan Africans who live in Finland felt uncomfortable about having a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender neighbor.

Read the full EU-MIDIS II report here.