Wednesday

22nd May 2019

German call for EU initiative against right-wing extremism

German justice minister Brigitte Zypries has called for a Europe-wide initiative to tackle right-wing extremism to be put in place and plans to push ahead with the idea using her country's current presidency of the EU.

The minister told German daily Bild that officials are worried about the rising levels of extremism being carried out across Europe, with the perpetrators taking advantage of the different rules in member states.

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"That is why during the EU presidency we are immediately going to make a new attempt to finally lay down uniform standards when it comes to fighting right-wing extremism," she said.

She added that Italy, which had blocked previous plans to get an EU law on the issue off the ground, had now signalled its support for the idea.

An EU law combating racism and xenophobia has been stuck in the legislative pipelines since 2003 with Rome objecting to it in the past on freedom of speech grounds.

The proposed law says that member states should make punishable "public incitement to discrimination, violence or hatred against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin".

It also calls for punishment of "public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."

Political discussion on the law in 2005 came unstuck when it was overshadowed by divisive debate on whether Nazi symbols should be banned.

For her part, Ms Zypries also wants to improve cooperation between police forces in Europe.

"The German authorities already have access to criminal records in France, Belgium and Spain," she said, adding "In the coming months I will work towards ensuring that this is possible also in other EU states."

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