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President von der Leyen vows to fight lack of diversity in E.U. institutions

The European Union’s top official acknowledged a lack of racial and ethnic diversity within the bloc’s institutions as she pledged Wednesday to keep talking about racism and discrimination.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a discussion at the European Parliament about racism and police violence that she wants to “get to the bottom of these questions.”

“Let us look around us, here in this very hemicycle,” von der Leyen said in a speech delivered at the horseshoe-shaped EU legislature. “The diversity of our society is not represented. And I will be the first to admit, things are not better in the College of Commissioners, nor among the European Commission staff.”

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The College of Commissioners, which oversees EU policies, is made of 27 members, one from each EU country. All the members of the team set up by von der Leyen are white.

“This is why I say: we need to talk about racism. And we need to act,” von der Leyen said. “It is always possible to change direction if there is a will to do so.”

European lawmakers are set to vote Friday on a resolution related to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.