No more "us and them": Dialogue and diversity for a stronger future

The 'Ward report' adopted by the European Parliament on January 19th 

Watch Julie's message following the adoption of the report here:

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

First 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.

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

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

Julie says:

"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. Schools in Manchester, for example, celebrate not only the Christian holidays but the Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu holidays too. This sharing of different cultural practices is what makes a rich and tolerant society.

Too often, the dominant 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 says: "Even by looking at your own story, you can find very positive narratives on migration. Look at the UK's National Health Service which today relies on migrant labour.

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."

Watch the Europarl TV feature on my report here:

Watch the highlights of the debate on the report in the plenary of the european Parliament here:

Read the Local press release here

Download the report here

Or read a one-page summary of the report here