Friday

30th Sep 2022

Political parties drive hate in EU, commission says

Far-right political discourse is feeding hatred throughout the EU and could harm the European project in the upcoming 2014 European Parliament elections, says the European Commission.

Disparaging words geared towards minority groups like Roma, Muslims, Jews and immigrants are becoming more common as elected officials attempt to woo a growing number of the voting electorate rooted in populist movements.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Commission: extremist views in EU political discourse give 'oxygen' to far-right radicals (Photo: Jacco De Boer)

"Not since World War II have extreme and populist forces had so much influence on the national parliaments as they have today. In some countries even neo-nazis have been elected," said EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Brussels on Monday (28 January).

Her words came a day after Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi praised the leadership of ex-dictator and fascist Benito Mussolini.

Mussolini had passed a raft of anti-Jewish laws before joining forces with Hitler.

Meanwhile, Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party on Monday celebrated the leadership role of Nikolaos Dertilis, a former colonel who helped put in place a dictatorial rule following a bloodless coup in 1967. The takeover threw the country into martial law where dissent was met with brutal force.

Malmstrom warned that racist and nationalistic politics could gain a stronger foothold in the European Parliament after elctions in 2014.

"We must not underestimate the importance of what this would mean for the European project," said the commissioner.

Such political discourse may also inspire "lone wolves" to carry out indiscriminate killings as the threat of violent extremism spreads, she noted.

The commissioner said organised terrorist networks have given way to protagonists such as Anders Breivik, a Norwegian whose lone attack saw the murder of 77 people in 2011.

Tracking lone actors down is considerably more difficult and requires more concerted efforts by relatives and local authorities to spot suspects, she added.

Teachers 'spy' on students

The commission in 2011 launched its so-called Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) - an attempt to bring together community leaders and law enforcement officers.

Its own literature says prevention and awareness-raising campaigns are among the long-term solutions in EU counter-terrorism efforts.

It also says community policing is recognised as one of the best approaches for preventing crime in general and recommends that schools, local police, health care providers, municipalities, youth workers and others cooperate on a regular basis to detect potentially harmful individuals early on.

But there are fears that this kind of monitoring can be overly invasive.

British MPs in 2011 criticised a similar UK project entitled Channel for asking teachers to report on young people who spoke about violence or visited terrorist-linked websites.

Neither activity is considered a criminal offence.

The project targeted younger people and especially Muslims, creating resentment as people felt they were being spied upon by those in a position of trust "like teachers and social workers," UK-based Professor Ted Cantle, who chairs the Home Office community cohesion review team, told this website.

"It [Channel project] made the Muslim community much more worried about authority. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Cantle.

Cantle says the lone wolf profile in the UK instead tends to be much older and is partisan to far-right anti-immigrant views.

An EU source at RAN said the project has been updated since its launch.

"It's all about caring for people who are vulnerable and who could be exploited," said the contact.

Meanwhile, Europol, the EU police agency based in the Hague, noted that terrorist-related arrests are on the decline as a whole but that single actors will continue to pose a serious threat.

The agency in 2011 recorded 174 terrorist attacks in member states. These led to the arrest of 316 individuals on terrorism-related charges.

Commission: Most Muslims not a threat to Europe

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise in Europe, as the EU Commission says political leaders should put societies' fears into perspective and not single out communities as threats.

Greece urged to 'take action' on neo-Nazi party

Europe's human rights watchdog has said Greece should consider banning the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party for its violence, racism and hate-filled rhetoric against immigrants.

EU adding Bahamas to tax-haven blacklist

The EU is adding Anguilla, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands to its blacklist of tax-havens, in what some have called a "fig-leaf" exercise.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Two elections and 'Macron's club' in focus Next WEEK
  2. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  3. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  4. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  5. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  6. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  7. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  8. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us