Christiana Stilianidou
Incorrect transposition of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia by Greece: INFR(2021)2063
17 • 03 • 2021

The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to Greece in the context of infringement proceedings, calling on the country to fully transpose EU legislation criminalizing hate speech and hate crimes. In particular, according to the European Commission, the Greek provisions concerning the criminalization of hate speech have shortcomings and therefore it was considered that the country has not fully or accurately transposed the framework decision 2008/913/JHA into its national law.

Each Member State of the European Union shall apply EU law and take appropriate action to that end. The European Commission is the body responsible for detecting possible breaches of EU law.

In the event that a Member State does not apply Union law and fails to fulfill any of the obligations laid down in the EU Treaties, the European Commission may initiate formal infringement proceedings under Articles 258 and 260 TFEU (details of infringement proceedings here).

Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the basic principles of the EU and constitute a threat against groups of persons which are the target of such behaviour.  It was therefore considered necessary to define a common approach to criminal law in the EU Member States on these phenomena.

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States. For this reason, the European Union has taken a number of measures to ensure that these phenomena are prevented and combated.

Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA is one of these measures, and aims to ensure that serious manifestations of racism and xenophobia result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties throughout the European Union.

The application of EU law is an obligation of the Member States of the European Union. If possible breaches of EU law are detected, the European Commission may take a series of actions against that Member State to ensure the correct and full application of EU law by initiating infringement proceedings in accordance with Articles 258 and 260 of the TFEU.

In this case, the European Commission sent a  letter of formal notice as it considered that the country, by criminalizing hate speech only in specific cases, had not fully or accurately transposed Framework Decision 2008/913 / JHA into national law.

Christiana Stilianidou
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