EU: 61% think ethnic discrimination widespread
Of the six grounds for discrimination examined in the survey, discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin is seen as the most widespread: 16% of European citizens think that this is very widespread in their country, whilst 45% think that it is fairly widespread. A quarter think that it is fairly rare with a further seven percent considering that it is very rare and just three percent giving the spontaneous answer that it is non-existent in their country. Four percent say that they ‘don’t know’.
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There is a considerable degree of variation from one country to the next in opinions regarding the prevalence of ethnic discrimination. It is seen as widespread by at least three-quarters of Dutch (80%), French, Hungarian (both 79%), Swedish (78%), Danish and Maltese (both 77%) citizens. At the other end of the scale, fewer than 4 in 10 Lithuanians (26%), Poles (33%) and Latvians (34%) share this view. In these three countries we also find an above-average proportion of citizens saying that discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin is non-existent (10%, 9% and 11%, respectively compared to the EU average of 3%). In Bulgaria and Estonia, this figure is even higher (12%).
The above figures should be interpreted in the context of the particular ethnic profiles of the given countries and the extent to which issues such as ethnicity, immigration and multiculturalism feature in public discourse.
This wide difference between national results is a complex phenomenon that defies a simple explanation. In the first place, the perception of ethnic discrimination as being widespread is not related to more citizens actually experiencing discrimination in these countries: none of the countries where at least three-quarters see ethnic discrimination as widespread have above-average self-reported ethnic discrimination levels. Again, an explanation for this could be that the perception of ethnic discrimination in national contexts is driven by the prominence of related issues in the national media and the visibility of ethnic minority populations.
Having friends of a different ethnic origin makes citizens more sensitive to discrimination on this ground. 67% of citizens for whom this is the case say that discrimination is widespread in their country. The figure drops to 54% for those without such friends.
Interestingly, those who consider themselves to be part of an ethnic minority are only slightly more likely than average to think that ethnic discrimination is common in their country.
See also: Eurobarometer site, Eurobarometer discrimination report and summary (PDFs)