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UK S&D MEP calls for dialogue and diversity for a stronger future


19 Jan 2016


Development Policy
EU Priorities 2020
Languages & Culture

This week the work by Labour MEP, Julie Ward, outlining how to tackle racism and discrimination to promote more open and inclusive societies was adopted in the European Parliament.

Initiated after the Charlie Hebdo and Danish attacks, the 'Ward Report' focuses on the importance of dialogue between different cultures, cultural diversity and education as a way to strengthen society at an important junction in Europe’s history.

The report builds on the Paris Declaration, an agreement reached by Education Ministers across the EU following the Paris attacks in November. This agreement recognises that Europe must work together to prevent and tackle marginalisation, intolerance, racism and extremism, and to achieve equal opportunities for all citizens.

The ‘Ward Report’ makes concrete recommendations for action, including the increased use of culture in diplomacy, development policy, inclusive learning and active citizenship to build strong, confident and cohesive communities for the future.

Julie Ward, Labour MEP for North West of England, said:

"Education and intercultural dialogue are crucial tools for a more harmonious society. Children are not born to hate, so tackling issues from an early age is vital. We are sometimes afraid of 'otherness' and the best way to address this is to talk to different people, to share different practices and learn from different cultures.

Too often, the dominant media narrative is that somebody else is always to blame for the world's problems. This results in a culture of fear. However, when people come together and talk honestly and share in each other's culture, they learn that we're all human beings with common aspirations and concerns. That's the bottom line."

Julie's report takes a positive approach, identifying opportunities along with challenges, particularly in respect of young people and the potential they offer to society. It also recognises the rich contribution of migrants and refugees to the social fabric of their communities. Ultimately, the report promotes the inclusion of different cultures and ethnic groups, celebrating how cultural diversity can create empathy, empower marginalised communities, foster more active citizenship and address stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.

Julie Ward says: "Even by looking at your own story, you can find very positive narratives on migration.

In terms of marginalisation and intolerance, we must also use history as a means to teach us about how to live better in the future. That requires us to face up to some difficult truths about the very bloody history of Europe. So I would say: look at the past and don't let that ever happen again."