Illegal hate speech is defined in EU law under the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law as the public incitement to violence or hatred directed to groups or individuals on the basis of certain characteristics, including race, colour, religion, descent and national or ethnic origin…
European institutions have made considerable efforts to tackle racism and online hate speeches. A wide range of Directives, Recommendations and procedures have been approved and implemented for several years. The European Commission launched the Code of Conduct on countering illegal hate speech online in May 2016. The Code is evaluated through a monitoring exercise by a network of civil society organisations located in different EU countries. Using a commonly agreed methodology, these organisations test how the IT companies apply the Code in practice.
On 28 September 2018, the Commission adopted a Communication, which provides for guidance to platforms on notice-and-action procedures to tackle illegal content online.
And recently (September 2020) EC President von der Leyen announced a new EU anti-racism Action Plan that sets out a series of measures for the next 5 years. Among others, the Commission will ensure that Member States fully implement relevant EU law and further strengthen the legal framework, if needed. This could happen in particular in the areas not yet covered by the non-discrimination legislation, such as law enforcement. The Commission also calls on Member States to maximise the use of all the tools at their disposal, in particular the funding available under the next long-term EU budget and the Next Generation EU
Despite all the efforts, on line hate speeches continue increasing in the European Union and some other measures should be implemented. Some ideas could be:
1. A citizenship programme could be developed and introduced into schools, making children aware of the consequences of their online actions from an early age –currently, lessons focus largely on technical aspects of how to use the internet but not in the contents of webs and social networks.
2. Fast reply from the European Commission facing on line hate speeches, eg encouraging speedy reactions by public figures to hate speech;
3. Hateful narratives should be dismantled and replaced by democratic and tolerance ideas: European Institutions should order researches and reports highlighting successful and positive stories linked with discriminated groups, providing verified data about the contribution of those groups to the European Union (for example the immigrant´s contribution…). Also awareness campaigns thorough Internet should be permanent.
4. For the European Parliament: Ethical guidelines for political parties regarding conduct of their representatives should be approved and implemented. More restrictive rules, banning discriminatory and hate speeches in the plenary sessions (also in Commissions and in general affecting all the parliamentary work) should be implemented.