Many young people suffer from the consequences of hate speech. What do you want to do to combat hate speech?
EPP (European People’s Party): We strongly condemn all forms of discrimination, hate speech, and violence. These are completely unacceptable in a civilized, tolerant, and inclusive society. We must ensure that Member States enforce existing anti-discrimination legislation and we must challenge demagogues and populist spreading hate, lies, and conspiracies. We are a party based on values and we will always speak up and defend freedom, respect for human dignity, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minority groups. We will ﬁght against fake news and ensure access to quality information. We want social media platforms to take more responsibility for countering disinformation and hate speech and to increase fact-checking in cooperation with journalists’ associations.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): The S&D Group has a strong record in the area of countering hate-speech, fighting against discrimination and promoting an inclusive society. The S&D Group is the only political group with a working group dedicated to Extremism, which we take very seriously. The Group has also a long tradition of respect for and promotion of diversity, including for faith and religions. S&D has also appointed specific Group spokespersons for different topics, which practice the Group will continue in order to ensure that our Group remains vocal on these issues, including cases directly affecting young people from different communities and groups. Many young people are exposed to hate speech on a regular basis, both on and offline, and it is important to be vigilant and the S&D aims to continue to be a leading voice in the public debate to denounce it firmly. Additionally, the S&D Group secretariat is implementing a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and hate-speech by actively training its staff, which is currently more of an exception rather than a general practice amongst political group secretariats in the European Parliament. The Group has been very strong in pushing for stronger sanctions and better definition of hate speech in the revised EP rules of procedure, which entered into force very recently and, with this new tool, S&D Members will continue to refer cases to the Parliament President to ensure a strict follow up, as well as ensuring a strict policy towards its own Members. The EP needs to lead by example if we want to fight hate speech outside. The Group is also engaging in a continuous dialogue with civil society on these topics. We rely on a comprehensive network of organisations within the Party of European Socialists, including with the Young European Socialists. In addition, the S&D Group has a strong and continuous dialogue with civil society groups at the European and national levels. Our political family has established a dialogue with the European Youth Forum, to which you are a member, in different fields, including on the theme of hate speech and discrimination. Many of our MEP candidates have already signed pledges from civil society organisations fighting against discrimination and hate-speech. Unquestionably, we are aware that legislative work needs to be accompanied by proper and full implementation and people need to be explained their rights. To this end, organising events at European/national/local level on these themes is important and the Group has been doing it for a long time. A regular dialogue between the European Union and churches, religious associations and communities, as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations is due to take place as stipulated by the EU treaties. The S&D Group believes this is a good forum to discuss this important topic at the EU level by involving MEPs and the representatives from all the different groups involved. The S&D Group will continue its support for the continuation of different internal cross-party interest groups (Intergroups) and informal groups defending an inclusive society and promoting an intersectional approach. During this legislature, for example, the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity intergroup and the Children intergroup, supported by many active S&D Members, coorganised many events dealing with this topic and with the support of the S&D Group.
We will keep on defending the swift adoption of the blocked horizontal anti-discrimination Directive, which would tackle discrimination at EU level, recognising age and religion as grounds of discrimination. Some EU texts in the field of hate speech may need updating in order to include new grounds of discrimination. The S&D Group will use the opportunity of the hearings of Commissioner candidates in order to push these topics onto the agenda and use all the parliamentary tools available (INI reports, EP resolutions, debate at Committee and Plenary levels) to raise awareness of the issues.
Also as media, including social media develops, the S&D group continues to fight dangerous elements like disinformation and misinformation campaigns, as well ashate speech, especially on the internet, as it is daily used by young people. The S&D believes that rules on hate speech should be applied with the same tenacity on the internet as outside. Victims of hate-speech deserve equal treatment online as off-line and perpetrators cannot get away with impunity. The Group welcomed the Code of conduct on countering illegal hate speech online, which was adopted by big internet players, but we believe it does not go far enough and does not cover all the necessary platforms and communication tools. In 2018, the S&D achieved to define new rules notably for video sharing platform services regarding the protection of children and minors (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) and will push for their proper implementation. Along with this, we must remain vigilant that media ownership remains as pluralistic as possible.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): LYMEC reiterates its determination to fight all forms of racism and rejects and condemns racist and xenophobic comments made by elected officials as well as any type of discriminatory policy in European countries. We want to equip the EU with the effective political tools that are needed for ensuring that member states conform to the European directives on combating racism. Such tools could include Task Forces, freezing of EU payments and/or penalty fees, etc.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): We support the outlawing of neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups and tough action against hate speech and incitement to violence. We have proposed and succeeded in approving a European Parliament resolution that detail steps to tackle the phenomenon.
European Greens: We are proud that Europe is diverse and colourful. We strongly condemn and fight any kind of discrimination and hate crimes on the basis of – but not limited to – age, gender and sexual identity, class, ethnicity and their intersections. We want all policies and services to recognise the true diversity of people and their families – and the contribution they make to our societies. We always choose hope over hate and we won’t tolerate hate speech anywhere.
Youth organizations like FIMCAP and its member organization strengthen the civil society. What do you want to support them to fulfill this important function?
EPP (European People’s Party):
We believe that the EU must protect civil society to ensure that we have vibrant democracies in the EU. We must do this using the two avenues open to us: enforcing commonly agreed rules and ensuring sufficient funding for civil society. We believe that the Commission must challenge national legislation when it undermines civil society to ensure that all Member States respect and follow our common rules and legislation. We also believe that we can help civil society through funding. Therefore, we strongly support establishing a European Values Instrument as part of the next EU budget to provide sustained funding to civil society.
S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats): The EU is a community of law and its values constitute the very basis of its existence. These values are enshrined in the EU Treaties, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To promote common European values and rights, the S&D Group has been at the forefront of proposing a policy mix of legislation, policies and funding. In particular, we have supported programmes, which show a strong societal focus and are clearly related to European values: the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, the Europe for Citizens Programme and the Justice Programme. Defending the idea for the creation of such programmes which would support civil society organisations, such as youth organisations like FIMCAP, which promote fundamental values within the European Union at local and national level will continue to be a top priority for us. We have supported those programmes designed to provide financial support for civil society on a local and national level to counter the backlash against democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights occurring in some Member states in the EU. These instruments would be complementary to already existing programmes and have a funding level corresponding to the EU’s spending on value-promotion in third countries. In addition to this, the S&D Group remains very concerned about developments in Europe on how the values enshrined in article 2 of the Treaty are continued to be threatened. In order to tackle this we have been calling repeatedly for a comprehensive legislative instrument on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights which would tackle from a very early stage possible breaches of these values – including decisions/legislations which could have negative impact on youth organisations and/or attacking freedom of religion.
LYMEC (European Liberal Youth, youth wing of ALDE): LYMEC calls the EU to support the development of a conscious civil society by encouraging and supporting NGOs and pro-democracy activists like FIMCAP. We also urge European governments to cooperate with civil society organizations to ensure an effective approach and share best practices with each other.
GUE-NGL (European United Left/Nordic Green Left): As the Left group in the European Parliament, we are accountable to the people and civil society plays a key role in enabling this. We are against corporate lobbies. We believe good policy is done through direct consultation with citizens and civil society. We regularly hold policy forums, through debates we host in the European Parliament and study visits to member states, and we have supported legislation to strengthen civil society.
European Greens: The strengthening of civil society will always be a priority for the Greens. We will stand with civil society and provide a bridge for their claims to be brought into the European Parliament and provide space in our campaigns and structures for them. We will also keep supporting the Federation of Young Greens, the youth organization of the European Greens, in their work to represent the youth.