European Interest

MEPs tackle hate speech, uphold fundamental rights

Flickr/Leigh Phillips/CC BY-NC 2.0
A picture from a demonstration of the Hungarian far-right party Jobbik in Budapest.

Members of the European Parliament on March 1 condemned the normalisation of hate speech sponsored by authorities, political parties and political leaders.

A non-legislative resolution, which was approved by 429 votes to 135, with 63 abstentions, addressed key fundamental rights challenges in the EU, notably in the fields of migration and integration, rule of law and discrimination.

As breaches of the rule of law are becoming more recurrent in the EU, MEPs insist that Article 7 of the Treaty “should no longer be regarded merely as a hypothetical tool”.

The MEPs also reiterated their call to the Commission to establish a European mechanism for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.

Parliament also expressed concern that several EU member states have toughened their political approach to asylum and migration and that some are not fully complying with their obligations in this regard.

The resolution is in response to the European Commission’s 2016 report on fundamental rights in the EU. Other topics addressed in the text include human trafficking, dissemination of fake news, rights of children on the Internet,  sexual and reproductive health, mass surveillance and the fundamental rights of minorities, in particular women, the Roma community and LGTBI people.

“The 2016 report on fundamental rights in the EU places particular importance on the rule of law and governance, and also addresses the issue of migration: the fight against trafficking in human beings; integration, and protection of the most vulnerable people and all minorities,” said Rapporteur Frank Engel (EPP, LU).

“Lastly, the misuse of the internet to propagate hate speech by authorities, or political parties, the dissemination of fake news, mass surveillance, and the rights of children on the Internet has been emphasised.”

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