March 2014 - Why we need equality data collection to unveil inequalities in Europe

Equality data to unveil inequalities in Europe: it’s all about political will

Do States really want to shed light on the discrimination experience of the 60 million ethnic and religious minorities in Europe? The debate about how data can be used to better ensure equality – so-called ‘equality data’ – revolves around political will. The lack of data is conveniently used as an excuse not to act on racial discrimination. This edition of ENARgy looks into what is really at stake for European democracies when it comes to equality data: facing the reality of racism and doing something about it.

No equality without equality data

Greater equality in the European Union will only be possible when data is collected that shows both the extent of inequality and the successes and weaknesses of current policy.

Monitoring inequality: time for a ‘social harm’ perspective

‘Equality data’ are important tools for policy makers and academics, but do they simply embed fossilised and inherently racialised social categories in policy debates, rather than help to achieve the aims of reducing inequality? A social harm perspective, measuring the consequences of policies and the discriminatory practices of institutions, could shift the focus of data collection away from essentialised notions of human identity, towards collecting evidence on processes that reproduce inequality.

Contested Ground: Ethnic Monitoring in the UK

For many in Europe, the concept of ethnic monitoring is regarded as part of the Anglo Saxon model, an emanation from the state sponsored multiculturalism that is seen to dominate the way that successive UK governments have responded to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

Equality data and political priorities: the Swedish case

The issue of equality data is more a question of political priorities than of legality. The recent developments in Sweden are a case in point. Sweden invokes the EU Data Protection Directive as an excuse not to collect equality data on ethnic origin, but has collected personal data revealing ethnic origin and disability for other purposes.