Fight against discrimination/Internet
EU says powerless against political calls for denunciation
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Tuesday 10 April 2012
There is no question of banning a website even if it is racist and run by far-right parties. The European Commission acknowledged once again, on 10 April, its powerlessness in the face of sites run by political parties that encourage denunciation. These include the site of the PVV, the far-right party in the Netherlands, which urges citizens to report any problems experienced with citizens from Central Europe, and its Belgian copy launched by Flemish Vlaams Belang extremists, concerning denunciation of problems with undocumented persons. The EU executive “cannot go any further” than to condemn such sites in principle.
“It is up to citizens and the different political parties to take this matter before national courts,” said a spokesman, explaining that there is no EU legislation on the prohibition of websites. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding does not intend to propose such prohibitions: “I am against all attempts to block sites on the internet. I wish to be perfectly clear: freedom of speech and freedom of internet are essential,” she declared recently.
A framework decision was adopted in 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia through criminal law. However, this decision (adopted prior to the Lisbon Treaty reforms) “does not aim to introduce EU sanctions” against incitement to hatred, explains the Commission. This applies to sites, videos and books. At the time, the states committed simply to apply common principles. Reding does not intend to propose EU monitoring either. The Charter of Fundamental Rights, written into the treaty, comes into play only in case of breach of EU law.