Insights Hate speech and hate crime: European Parliament calls on Council to criminalise

EU crimes to hate speech and hate crime. It calls on the European Council to adopt a decision to list hate speech and hate crime under Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. Under that Article, the European Parliament and the Council may establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crimes with a cross-border dimension. Such areas are limited under the Treaty to terrorism, trafficking in human beings, sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime. However, the Council may adopt a decision identifying other areas of crime that meet the criteria specified in under Article 83. In doing so, the Council must act unanimously and with the consent of the European Parliament.

The Parliament points out that currently Member States’ criminal laws deal with hate speech and hate crime in different ways and there it is a need for harmonisation. Hate is on the rise in Europe, and it has been two years since the Commission made a similar proposal for hate speech and hate crimes to be included in the list of EU crimes. Therefore, the Parliament calls on the Council to adopt the decision before the end of the current Parliamentary term.

Parliament recommends that, under any new law, the list of grounds for discrimination (e.g. race, religion) should not be limited so that the new rules can cover incidents motivated by new and changing social dynamics. It calls for particular attention to be given to minors to give them special protection to prevent hate speech and hate crimes incidents (including bullying and cyberbullying) from occurring and to minimise the impact on their development and mental health. It calls for reparations for victims, a safe environment for reporting incidents, and the need to collect data to assess the impact that legislation and policies are having on the fight against hate speech and hate crimes.

Parliament also recommends that Article 83 be amended to so that decisions to identify new areas of crime can be adopted by a reinforced qualified majority of the Council rather than by unanimous decision.

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