The European Union (EU) has acknowledged and expressed deep regret for the “untold suffering” inflicted by Europe’s slave-trading past on millions of people. The EU also hinted at the need for reparations for slavery, which it described as a “crime against humanity.”
The EU is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
During the 15th to the 19th century, approximately 12.5 million Africans were forcibly transported to the Americas by mostly European ships and subjected to slavery, with nearly half of them taken to Brazil by Portugal.
This shocking admission came during a recent two-day summit in Brussels, EU leaders met with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Some European governments were cautious about the proposed language on reparations, but ultimately the member states agreed to a joint statement that acknowledged the transatlantic slave trade as a “crime against humanity” and expressed profound regret for the immense suffering it caused.
The summit started on July 17, and during the event, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the current holder of CELAC’s presidency, said he wanted the summit’s final statement to include language on the “historical legacies of native genocide and enslavement of African bodies” and “reparatory justice, Reuters reported.
The statement referred to a 10-point reparations plan put forward by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The CARICOM plan calls for formal apologies from European nations and various measures to address the historical legacies of slavery. According to the CARICOM reparations commission, the ongoing racial victimization of the descendants of slaves is the root cause of their continued suffering and development challenges in the Caribbean.
The reparations plan includes demands for individual and national debt cancellation, funding for indigenous peoples’ development programs, support for cultural and public health institutions in former colonial territories, literacy programs, and the modernization of Caribbean industries. It also stresses the importance of building stronger ties with African communities from which slaves were taken and even suggests repatriation for descendants of slaves who wish to return to Africa, Nigerian Observer News reported.
By the end of the summit, the EU and CELAC jointly recognized the tragic impact of the transatlantic slave trade, labeling it a “crime against humanity.” The discussion on reparations is slated to continue.
Saint Vincent and Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves talks to journalists during a joint news conference with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez at the end of the third EU-CELAC summit that brings together leaders of the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Francois Walschaerts)