Commission: Hate Crime Should Become an EU Crime
On 23 February 2021, the Commission published a roadmap for a proposal to include hate speech and hate crime into the list of EU crimes for which harmonisation of substantive criminal law would be possible in accordance with Art. 83(1) TFEU. The Commission plans to present an initiative for a Council decision that would recognise hate speech and hate crime as EU crimes. Once adopted, the Commission will have competency to propose, in a second step, substantive legislation (i.e., a directive) harmonising the definition of and penalties for hate speech and hate crime. Citizens and stakeholders were called on to provide feedback by 20 April 2021 as to whether the conditions in Art. 83 TFEU for inclusion, i.e., particular seriousness and cross-border dimension of the crime, are fulfilled.
The roadmap states that the fight against hate crime and hate speech on grounds of race, religion, gender, and sexuality is a key priority of Commission President Ursula van der Leyen. It points out research and surveys that indicate the extent and increase of hate crime and hate speech (including online), as well as the links between the two and the impact on victims and society. The Commission underlines that there is a need for a common criminal law response at the EU level against racist and xenophobic hate speech and hate crime.