The Council of Europe is calling on Spain to “urgently” create an independent equality body. Spain and the micro-state of San Marino are the only members of the 47-strong Council that still lack an organization specifically designed to tackle racism.
The report by the Council’s European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), which was published on Tuesday, also criticized the lack of measures to integrate migrants, as well as the segregation of Roma children.
While the report acknowledged that there is less hate speech in Spain than in other European countries, it said that the government was not doing enough to address racism. In 2009, the Spanish government created the Council for the Elimination of Racial or Ethnic Discrimination to monitor racist behavior. But this body was never independent – it works within the Ministry of Health – and has taken very little action over the past years. In the report, the Council of Europe said that it “has been left practically inactive” and lacks leadership (its president stepped down in 2014.)
Budget cutbacks have also weakened measures against racism. According to the report, there has not been any integration strategy for foreigners in Spain since 2014. The end of the austerity programs should translate into stronger anti-discrimination policies, says the study.
The Council has also called on the Spanish government to make the schooling of Roma children a priority. Although the European Commission has sometimes cited Spain as a leader in social integration, the report by the Council of Europe – which is independent from the European Union – argues that “rehousing measures have contributed to residential and school segregation.” Only 45% of Roma children complete compulsory education, the report notes.