And he described how he thought Birmingham's unique ethnic make-up would eventually be the model for the majority of large cities in Europe.
Mr Phillips, chairman of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, described the prospect of ethnic minorities becoming the majority of Birmingham's population as "a very very big deal".
He added: "I think it's a very important issue. It's important because in Europe this won't happen in the way it has happened in America, where one lot of people takes over from another.
"There will be a lot of groups of different ethnicities, and that is going to take a new kind of thinking. This is what most European cities in 15 or 20 years' time will look like, and that's why I'm so interested in what's happening in Birmingham."