Expanding the EU crime list to include hate speech and hate crimes, proposed today by the European Commission.
“Hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise across Europe and have become a very serious and worrying phenomenon – both online and offline,” the Commission said, stressing the need for joint action to address this challenge. EU level.
However, There is currently no legal basis for criminalizing hate speech and hate crimes at EU level, the Commission emphasizes. “The existing list of EU crimes in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) needs to be expanded to ensure that there are minimum common rules on the definition of criminal offenses and penalties applicable in all Member States. “The initiative is the first step in the process of expanding the EU list of crimes. In the next step, Member States must approve the initiative before the Commission submits a legislative proposal.”
The Vice President for Values and Transparency Viera Yurova “Hate has no place in Europe. It goes against our fundamental values and principles. “We need EU action to ensure that hatred is criminalized in the same way everywhere in Europe.”
The current initiative presents elements for expanding the EU crime list, to include hate speech and hate crimes in the light of the criteria set out in Article 83 (1) TFEU:
The cross-border dimension of hate speech and hate crimes: Hate speech on the internet is spreading fast and is accessible to anyone anywhere. Hate-based ideologies and hate crimes can be developed internationally and quickly spread on the internet. Crimes can be committed by networks with members from different countries.
• Hate rhetoric and hate crimes as a crime area: The Commission considers hate speech and hate crimes to be a crime area, as they share an inherently specific feature, ‘hate’, which targets individuals or groups of people who share ( or considered to share) the same protected features.
Hate rhetoric and hate crimes as a particularly serious crime area: Hate rhetoric and hate crimes are particularly serious crimes, as they undermine the common values and fundamental rights of the EU as enshrined in Articles 2 and 6 of the European Treaty. Join.
• Developments in the field of crime: Both phenomena have experienced steady growth due to various economic, social and technological changes and developments. The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the factors that contributed to this increase.
• No alternative to extending the EU crime list: Hate speech and hate crimes are criminalized to varying degrees from one EU Member State to another. Only expanding the EU crime list to include hate speech and hate crimes can enable an effective and comprehensive criminal justice approach to these phenomena at EU level, while providing consistent protection for victims of such acts.
The Council must adopt unanimously, after obtaining the approval of the European Parliament, decision to identify hate speech and hate crimes as another area of crime that meets the criteria set out in Article 83 (1) TFEU.
The Commission can then propose legislation to establish minimum rules on the definitions and sanctions of hate speech and hate crimes, which will be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure.