Despite the existing legal instruments on the prohibition of discrimination, including on the grounds of racial and ethnic origin, millions of people continue to face racist discrimination and hatred.
This discrimination hinders their ability to reach their full potential as equal and active members of society, and entrenches racialised social exclusion.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted but also further exacerbated pre-existing disparities, with widening inequalities and harsher negative impacts on certain communities.
Indeed, the pandemic is negatively impacting all Sustainable Development Goals and is reversing some of the global progress made towards reaching them.
To address this trend we need to place a greater sense of urgency to achieving the Goals.
The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a roadmap to build back better and to set the world towards a more inclusive, sustainable, just and resilient future for all, therefore leaving no one behind.
I reiterate that the European Commission remains fully committed to the 2030 Agenda.
Through its external action, the Commission is engaged to contribute to the global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
This implies the promotion of the respect for human rights, equality, peace and security, democracy and the rule of law.
Beyond our external action, the Sustainable Development Goals also lie at the heart of the Commission’s internal policymaking across all sectors.
I know that the concrete actions we take to continually bring the European Union closer to a true Union of Equality are essential to bring tangible progress in the areas of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In terms of our policy actions, the Commission will present a new Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the coming weeks.
In 2020, we have launched our Gender Equality Strategy, the LGBTIQ Equality Strategy, the Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation as well as the EU anti-racism action plan.
Through this EU anti-racism action plan, the Commission is tackling the issue of racism on all fronts to ensure a robust response to the stress-factors that our society and values face today.
It expressly acknowledges that racism is not only perpetrated by individuals but is also structural.
As such, racism can be embedded in social, financial and political institutions.
The anti-racism action plan sets outs a number of specific actions to tackle racism through EU law but also through other means, by working with Member States, including national law enforcement, with media and civil society.
Racism and discrimination are global phenomena, which require a global response.
It is therefore essential that internal and external actions of the EU are coherent and mutually reinforcing.
The new EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy raises the EU’s ambition on promoting non-discrimination and contains concrete actions to the fight against discrimination, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination in all external EU action.
I underline that it is only by mobilising forces at all levels that we will make progress in tackling the scourge of racism in our society.
Thank you all for your attention.