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Closure of Sangatte Hastens Need for Debate on Asylum Seekers and Citizenship in Europe

Originally published 12 November 2002

Citizenship and Discrimination in Europe

6th-8th December, Cable & Wireless College, 320 Westwood Heath Road, Coventry, CV4 8GP

The University of Warwick will hold the first public international conference to promote citizenship in Europe on 6th –8th December 2002. Citizenship and Discrimination in Europe will explore anti-discriminatory policies in Europe, the shifting boundaries of citizenship and religious discrimination in Europe, such as the case of Islam.

Dr. Rainer Baubock, from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, citizenship and immigration specialist in Europe and a keynote speaker at the conference, said: 'Today liberal pluralism is under attack. In the last two years extreme right-wing and national populist parties have not only scored significant success in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, France and the Netherlands, but have also become coalition partners in governments'.

Social exclusion, anti-racism, immigration policies and ethnic diversity will be at the top of the agenda as leading international academics, policy-makers, voluntary organisations and social workers come together to discuss the most pressing issues facing Europe today. European Policies of anti-discrimination will be addressed from a supranational to a local perspective, and delegates will share local, national and European experiences of good practice.

Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty (1997) set up a framework based on equality, integration, and the multicultural membership of European institutions, but a counter agenda of EU Member States is strengthening national identity against ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.

Christophe Bertossi, from the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick, added: “In the new Millennium citizenship is more important than ever. Social exclusion and discrimination on the grounds of nationality, religion and sexual orientation are still rife throughout Europe. Diversity and equality are valued as crucial for a collective European identity, but as the far right rises in some European countries and the EU resists Islam, the principles of citizenship come under attack.

"Citizenship can become a tool for tackling discrimination and forge social cohesion and solidarity in Europe. This conference will tackle many of these issues and look at how discrimination can be addressed through a citizenship perspective.”

Mr Ashok Ohri, Co-director of Organisation of Social Development Consultant, Edinburgh, who is in charge of the government’s recently implemented Citizenship Tests and a key speaker at the event, said: “Shared values and common identities can only emerge through a process of dialogue, and a sustainable notion of citizenship needs to be built through debate. This conference will help identify strategies which facilitate democratic citizenship in a rapidly changing Europe.”

The conference is organised by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick and supported by the European Commission and the Compagnia di San Paolo.


Journalists are welcome to attend this event. Contact:

Jenny Murray,
Assistant Press Officer,
Communications Office,
University of Warwick,
Tel: 02476 574255
Mobile: 07876217740
Fax: 02476 528194

Dr Christophe Bertossi,
Conference Co-ordinator,
Tel: 024 7652 3970
Fax: 02476 524324

Mr Ashok Ohri is also member of the committee on Life in Britain Working Group, a Trustee of Abantu for Development and a Member of the Cross Party Group on International Development at the Scottish Parliament Mobile: 07970 934423 Email:

Compagnia di San Paolo promotes the fostering of excellence in university and post-university education and the spread of a culture based on civic spirit and responsibility.

The conclusions of the event will be published on-line, including keynote speeches, videos and abstracts, and as a book 2004.