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Legal Framework

European legislative framework ensuring protection of Jewish people and countering antisemitism

European Union – primary law

Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union states:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Article 10 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states:

In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall aim to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Article 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states:

Without prejudice to the other provisions of the Treaties and within the limits of the powers conferred by them upon the Union, the Council, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.

Article 1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states:

Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.

Article 3 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states:

Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity.

Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states:

Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.

European Union – secondary law

Race Equality Directive - Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin prohibits ethnic discrimination. Article 3 sets out the scope of the directive, which applies to both the public and private sectors, and covers: conditions of access to employment and training; employment and working conditions; membership of trade unions, similar organisations and professions; social protection; social advantages; education; and, access to and supply of goods and services, including housing.

Employment Equality Directive - Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation prohibits discrimination based on religion or belief in employment and occupation, whether in the public and private sectors, or public bodies.

Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law aims “to ensure that certain serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties throughout the European Union (EU).”

The Framework Decision sets out the obligation for Member States to penalise

  • incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin and
  • public condoning, gross trivialisation or denial of the Holocaust

Particularly, negationism can be considered as a specific manifestation of antisemitism since it both constitutes a denial of the Holocaust, and an incitement to hatred against the Jewish community. Denying crimes against humanity and disputing the existence of clearly established historical events do not constitute scientific or historical research and shall be considered incitement to hatred towards Jews, as laid down by case-law of the European Court for Human Rights.

Furthermore, Member States must ensure that, for any other crime, racist and xenophobic motivation, including antisemitic motivation, is considered an aggravating circumstance or can be taken into consideration by the courts in the determination of the penalties. The Framework Decision also applies in “cases where the conduct is committed through an information system” (Article 9).

Victim-Rights Directive - Directive 2012/29/EU of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. The Directive is aimed at ensuring that persons who have fallen victim of crime are recognised, treated with respect and receive proper information, protection, support and access to justice including through participation in criminal proceedings. The Directive acknowledges the specificities of hate crime victims' needs, pointing at particular aspects to be taken into account for these victims to be:

  • enabled and encouraged to access justice, starting from reporting their experiences to competent institutions;
  • be offered effective protection, and
  • have access to adequate victim support services.

The Directive also establishes a number of general principles aimed at ensuring quality and sustainability and coordination, some of which bear particular importance in terms of meeting the needs of hate crime victims.

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (2010/13/EU) obliges EU Member States to ensure that audiovisual media services do not contain incitement to hatred based on race, religion, sex or nationality. According to Article 6, “Member States shall ensure by appropriate means that audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction do not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality”.