Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Values and Transparency and Vice-President of the European Commission with representatives of the winning cities. (PHOTO: © European Union, 2022)
Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Values and Transparency and Vice-President of the EC, presented the Commission’s awards for European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity. Winners from five Member States – Croatia, Germany, Romania, Spain and Sweden – were recognized for their work to build a fairer society by supporting gender diversity and inclusion, racial and ethnic origin, religion and belief, disability, age, LGBTIQ rights and Roma integration.
The objective of this prize is to highlight cities and regions in the EU which are leading by example in terms of inclusion policy. The winner in the category of cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants for their strategies to promote diversity and inclusion is Cologne, Germany, followed by Gothenburg, Sweden and Barcelona, Spain.
Koprivnica in Croatia is the winner in the category of cities with less than 50,000 inhabitants for its strategy to support people with disabilities, followed by Ingelheim in Germany and Antequera in Spain. The cities of Andalusia in Spain, Grindinari in Romania and again Gothenburg in Sweden have won special prizes for Roma inclusion.
“The last two years have been a particularly difficult time for us. We have experienced a global pandemic, and currently we are witnessing a return to war in Europe. There is all the more evidence that in times of crisis, groups vulnerable are particularly badly off. , and I mean the largest European minority here, the Roma,” Jourová said in his speech at the ceremony, adding that out of a total of 82 applications received, 26 were in the category of Roma inclusion.
“Today, we express our appreciation for these cities that set an example for protecting the dignity and freedom of everyone in our communities. When we celebrate these winners, we commemorate the importance of initiatives supporting the values that represent our Union at all levels,” said Jourová, who expressed the Commission’s gratitude to Andalusia, in particular for supporting Roma in its education centres, showing them positive role models and calling on mediators who are Roma themselves.
“It is a great source of inspiration for others,” added Jourová, who also dedicated his speech to the EU Roma Strategic Framework 2020-2030. “We congratulate all the winners of these first European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity, as well as the 82 local authorities who responded to the Commission’s call to promote and support diversity. Today they showed in the best possible way how to promote equality and diversity together and how we can do our best to be inclusive of all,” said Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli.
The European Commission announced the new award late last year under the name “European Capitals of Inclusion and Diversity”. The prize is announced to support cities, municipalities and regions that develop specific activities in favor of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusive approaches, even at a time when, in some parts of Europe, the trend sectarianism, discrimination and intolerance is increasing in society.