The legal and policy framework in the EU
The European Union is founded on values such as respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights. All forms of hatred and intolerance are incompatible with these fundamental rights and values.
Hatred not only affects the individual victims, it represents a threat to vibrant democracies and a pluralistic society.
Hate motivated crime and speech are illegal under EU law. The 2008 Framework Decision on combating certain forms of expressions of racism and xenophobia requires the criminalisation of public incitement to violence or hatred based on race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin. The European Commission, as Guardian of the Treaties, monitors the correct implementation of the Framework Decision, through dialogue and when needed infringements proceedings.
On 9 December 2021, the European Commission adopted a Communication which prompts a Council decision to extend the current list of ‘EU crimes’ in Article 83(1) TFEU to hate crimes and hate speech. If this Council decision is adopted, the European Commission would be able, in a second step, to propose secondary legislation allowing the EU to criminalise other forms of hate speech and hate crime, in addition to racist or xenophobic motives.
The European Commission’s policy “toolbox” includes also dedicated exchanges and tools in support to national authorities in the context of the High Level Group on combating hate speech and hate crime, which functions since 2016. This work has focused on better support to victims, in line with the Victims Rights Directive, on stepping up hate crime training for law enforcement, and on enhancing recording, reporting and data collection of hate crimes. In addition, to face the challenges of online hatred, the European Commission initiated in 2016 a voluntary Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online with well-known IT companies.
The Commission’s policies pay particular attention also to specific forms of hate speech and hate crime experienced by groups and communities, such as antisemitism, as mentioned in the EU Strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life (2021-2030), anti-Muslim hatred or anti-gypsyism.
The High Level Group on combating hate speech and hate crime
The High Level Group is established since 2016 with the following mandate:
- to foster in-depth expert discussions on horizontal issues common to the fight against hate speech and hate crime on all grounds, seeking to develop practical guidance, standards and tools and to build capacity to improve responses at the national and local level;
- to facilitate the exchange and dissemination of good practices undertaken at local, national or international level;
- to include both international organisations and civil society perspectives and foster dedicated thematic discussions on specific forms of hatred and ways to channel effective responses on the ground.
News and updates
- (2022) Key guiding principles on cooperation between law enforcement authorities and civil society organisations - This comprehensive set of guidance has been coordinated by the FRA with the input of experts working on hate crime data collection and reporting, hate crime training and hate crime victim support.
Work streams and resources
The High Level Group has organised its work along four focus areas and each of them has produced the following important guidance and resources:
Hate crime recording, reporting and data collection
coordinated by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)
- Key guiding principles on encouraging reporting of hate crime
- Improving the recording of hate crime by law enforcement authorities: key guiding principles
- Encouraging hate crime reporting - The role of law enforcement and other authorities
Hate crime training and capacity building for national law enforcement
coordinated by the European Commission and the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL)
- Hate crime training for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities: 10 key guiding principles
- Overview of resources and initiatives to support hate crime training programmes in the EU Member States
- Mapping hate crime training for law enforcement and criminal justice authorities in the European Union
Hate crime victims support
coordinated by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)
- Enhancing Stakeholder Awareness and Resources for hate crime victim support (EStAR)
- Ensuring justice, protection, and support for victims of hate crime and hate speech: 10 key guiding principles
- Overview of resources and initiatives to support progress on ensuring justice, protection, and support for victims of hate crime and hate speech in the EU Member States
Countering hate speech online
coordinated by the European Commission
- Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online
- Study on digital violent right-wing extremist content and manifestations of hate speech online (2021)
The European Commission provides financial support to national authorities and civil society organisations working on hate speech and hate crime, through the Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values (CERV) programme. To receive information about the upcoming calls, please visit the CERV webpage.
- Staff Working Document - Countering Racism and Xenophobia in the EU
- OSCE/ODIHR Hate Crime Data
- ECRI General Policy Recommendation N°15 on Combating Hate Speech
- ECRI revised General Policy Recommendation No. 5 on preventing and combating anti-Muslim racism and discrimination
- ECRI revised General Policy Recommendation No. 9 on preventing and combating Antisemitism
Mail to JUST-NO-HATE@ec.europa.eu for any questions on combating hate speech and hate crime.