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Commission calls on Greece, the Netherlands and Lithuania to fully transpose EU law criminalising hate speech and hate crimes

09 June 2021 - The Commission decided to send letters of formal notice to Greece, the Netherlands and Lithuania as their national laws do not fully or accurately transpose EU rules on combating racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law (Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA). The purpose of this Framework Decision is to ensure that serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia, such as public incitement to violence or hatred, are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties.

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At present, the Dutch legal system still fails to criminalise the specific forms of hate speech mentioned in the Framework Decision, namely the public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of international crimes and the Holocaust. The Lithuanian legal framework deviates from the EU rules on combating racism and xenophobia in several ways. Mainly, it still fails to criminalise hate speech and hate crime when based on the grounds of ethnic origin and/or colour. Moreover, Lithuania criminalises the conduct of condoning, denial, and gross trivialisation of international crimes and the Holocaust only when public order is disrupted. Finally, the Lithuanian legal framework criminalises those conducts with regard to the Holocaust only when perpetrated in the territory of Lithuania or against Lithuanian citizens. The Greek legal system criminalises hate speech only when public incitement to violence or hatred endangers public order or poses a threat to life, freedom or physical integrity of persons. Greece, the Netherlands and Lithuania will have two months to take the necessary measures to address the shortcomings identified by the Commission. Failing this, the Commission may decide to take the infringement procedure to the next step, by sending a reasoned opinion. The Commission has already launched infringements on this instrument against seven Member States and continues to assess the transposition of this Framework Decision in other Member States as part of its enhanced effort to address racism and xenophobia. For more information about the measures to combat racism and xenophobia, click here.