The European Commission has presented on 9 December 2021 a Communication on: A more inclusive and protective Europe: extending the list of EU crimes to hate speech and hate crime (COM (2021) 777 final) with the aim to bring forward an extension of the list of areas of EU crimes, to include all forms of hate speech and hate crime; whether because of race, religion, gender or sexuality. For the EC, establishing hate speech as a crime is necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of others and genuinely meets objectives of general interest recognised by the Union. The Communication, which is not a legislative initiative, relates to the first step. This first step is that the Council unanimously adopts, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, a decision identifying hate speech and hate crime as another area of EU crime that meets the criteria set out in Article 83(1) of the TFEU. After this, as a second step, the Commission will have the competence to propose a Directive in order to establishing minimum rules to harmonise the definition of and penalties for hate speech and hate crime to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in line with the ordinary legislative procedure.
The Committee of the region underline the fact that hate speech, hate crime, fake news, disinformation and conspiracy theories are phenomena that need to be strongly addressed ; it is affecting not only the individual victims (affecting their fundamental rights and freedoms), but also society at large; authority figures – persons holding electoral mandates or exerting public responsibilities, and institutions – are increasingly often the victims of hate speech and hate crime, in particular when defending the rights of refugees, migrants or LGBTIQ+ persons. As there is currently no Treaty basis for a common Europe-wide criminal law response to tackle all forms of hate speech and hate crime, it is important to extend the list of EU offences under Article 83(1) of the TFEU by setting common minimum standards for the relevant national criminal provision in full respect of the subsidiarity principle.