On November 30th, 2022, at the European Committee of the Regions plenary session it has been emphasised the importance of playing a critical role, for local and regional authorities, in countering hate crime and hate speech, breaking down barriers to reporting incidents of hate crime, and preventing discrimination and exclusion.
Regions and cities argue that the only answer to hate speech and hate crimes – a fundamental threat to a democratic society – is to create a comprehensive legal strategy for prevention and prosecution. They particularly stress the role of anti-discrimination education programmes and propose that the topic of hate speech be included in the general education curriculum, encouraging regions that have competence in this area to act in this direction. European citizens need to be educated and equipped with interpersonal skills in order not to overstep the boundaries of what is considered freedom of speech or freedom of expression, both online and in public spaces.
Regional and local leaders recognise that there can sometimes be a fine line between censorship and combating hate speech and therefore call on the EU’s legislators to guarantee the right to freedom of expression should be guaranteed when developing legal solutions to combat hate speech and hate crime.