Survey reveals contradictory views on racism

Survey reveals contradictory views on racism in Europe, although underlying trend is towards more tolerance

A new survey reveals contradictory views on racism in Europe, but generally shows that citizens in the EU are becoming more tolerant towards immigrants. The survey carried out by Eurobarometer on behalf of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) located in Vienna.

The report shows an increase in tolerance since the previous survey in 1997. The proportion of people who believe in the benefits of a multicultural society has risen from 33 to 48 percent. Paradoxically, it also reveals that many Europeans are seriously concerned about the implications of mass immigration and there has been a rise in sympathies for right wing ideologies. Overall intolerance in the EU stands at 14 percent, with Greece and Belgium heading the pack of intollerant Member States. In Greece 81 percent of the population believe immigrants are more likely to be involved in crime.

The report concludes that more than a quarter of all Europeans can be categorised as 'ambivalent', as they harbour positive and negative attitudes towards minorities at the same time. Interestingly, the study also concludes that those people are also most likely to react most to political leadership. EUMC's director, Beate Winkler suggested: "Awareness of this result and the fact that the future of European societies lies in diversity and equality can hopefully help politicians to make their decisions and take necessary action to prevent and eliminate racism and xenophobia,".

Not unsurprisingly, the report also finds strong correlation between hostile attitudes towards minorities experience with unemployment or expectation of higher unemployment rates. The same applies to fear about loss of welfare standards.

On the bright side, rising levels of education correlate with positive attitudes towards minorities. The number of people who describe themselves as actively tolerant of minorities is highest in Sweden with 33 percent.

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