Posts Tagged ‘affirmative action’

The diversity deficit in the European parliament is undermining its legitimacy

11/06/2012, 05:00:24 PM

by Robbie Scot

Before the Labour party begins selecting candidates for the European elections in 2014 a serious effort needs to be made to attract candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds. The chronic under-representation of ethnic minorities in the EU parliament has reached such a height that it casts serious doubt on the ability of the chamber to properly represent voters.

The UK sends 72 MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg; four come from ethnic minority backgrounds. Out of 736 MEPs 15 of them come from ethnic minority backgrounds.  We could squeeze them all onto a minibus.

At a time when the BRICS are the fastest growing economies in the world a European parliament that looks more like an imperial court than a 21st century legislative chamber hardly does much for Europe’s standing on the international stage. The scale of underrepresentation in the European parliament is intractable and will not be redressed with anti-discrimination laws alone. Affirmative action is needed if we’re going to overcome this diversity deficit.

There are 13 Labour MEPs in the European Parliament – London’s Claude Moraes is our only ethnic minority MEP, the Liberal Democrats have none and the Conservatives 3. Regional parties should work closely with ethnic minority party members and sitting councillors to increase their exposure to European issues some years before the selection process.

This hasn’t happened and I doubt we’ll see a breakthrough in the coming year. When the UK sends two more ethnic minority representatives to the European Parliament than the BNP I think the time for access schemes and talking has finished. This is where Labour can make a difference.


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