Study shows widespread racism in the EU

The current report "Being black in the EU" concludes that racism, discrimination and hate crime remain a major problem, despite the existence of binding anti-discrimination laws since 2000. Key findings include that almost half of respondents have experienced racial discrimination – an increase from 39 % in 2016 to 45 % in 2022. Reasons for discrimination include personal characteristics protected by EU law such as skin color, ethnic origin and religious beliefs. More than half of respondents who felt discriminated against in at least one area of their lives stated that they were discriminated against on several grounds. Skin color, ethnic origin or migration background were the most frequently cited reasons.  


The responses from 6,752 people from sub-Saharan Africa and their descendants residing in 13 EU Member States were analyzed: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. The most important selection criterion was the country of birth of the respondents or their parents. This means that respondents were either born in a sub-Saharan African country (immigrants) or born in the EU with at least one parent born in a sub-Saharan African country (descendants of immigrants).

High number of unreported cases

Although assaults are still widespread, two thirds (64%) of victims of racist violence stated that they had not reported the last incident they had experienced to any organization or body. This is despite the fact that most victims of racist violence suffer from psychological problems and fear being attacked again. Some respondents did not report the incident because they felt it would not make a difference (36 %) or because they felt reporting would be too bureaucratic or time-consuming (19 %). Others did not report the incident because they were afraid that no one would believe them or take them seriously, because they did not trust the police or were afraid of the police (16 % each). 15 % of the victims of racist violence did not know where to go or who to contact to make a report.

Discrimination in many areas 

The discrimination experienced also continues in the areas of employment, housing and healthcare. While the average employment rate for people of African descent aged 20-64 (71 %) is similar to that of the general population (73 %) in the same age group, a third (32 %) of employed respondents work in elementary occupations, compared to an average of 8 % for the general population across the 27 EU Member States. The over-qualification rate is higher for respondents of African descent than for the general population, regardless of whether they are nationals of the survey country (35 % compared to 21 %) or third-country nationals (57 % compared to 40 %).


Respondents are also more at risk of poverty, social exclusion and energy poverty than the general population. A third (32 %) of them struggle to make ends meet, compared to 18 % of the general population. 14 % cannot afford to keep their home warm, compared to 7 % of the general population. 18 % are in arrears with their electricity and gas bills, more than twice as many as the general population (6 %). Almost one in two respondents (45 %) in the 13 countries surveyed live in overcrowded housing, a much higher proportion than in the general population (17 %).

Those who try to rent or buy a home are also racially discriminated against. In some countries, this is mitigated by social housing. One in four (23 %) of respondents of African descent said that a private property owner had prevented them from renting an apartment or house because of their skin color or ethnic origin. Respondents were more than four times as likely to experience discrimination when trying to rent from a private owner than when trying to rent from a public or local authority (5 %).

racial profiling 

In addition, more than half of people of African descent believe that their most recent police stop was the result of racial profiling. The survey results show that experiences of racial discrimination can undermine trust in public institutions, including the police, the legal system and local authorities. For example, average trust in the police is 1.2 percentage points lower among respondents who have felt racially discriminated against compared to respondents who had not experienced racial discrimination. Comparing the 2016 and 2022 results in terms of perceived racial profiling among respondents of African descent, the average rate across all countries surveyed increased from 41 % (2016) to 48 % (2022). Men are more likely to be stopped than women.