Through this Opinion, the EESC supports the proposal by the European Commission to extend the list of EU crimes to all forms of hate crime and hate speech. It considers that the criteria set out in Article 83(1) of the TFEU for such an extension (significant developments in the area, a cross-border dimension, the need to act on a common basis) are met. The EESC therefore encourages the Council to adopt the proposed Decision in order to allow the European Commission to set minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and penalties in this area of crime.
Tackling Illegal Content Online – Towards an enhanced responsibility of online platforms (Communication) - Related Opinions
The "Reinforcing democracy and integrity of elections" package was issued by the European Commission in November 2021. The EESC was asked to address two of the three legislative components of the package: the revision of the Regulation on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations, and a proposal for a Regulation transparency and targeting of political advertising. In this Opinion, the EESC welcomes the aims and motivation of the package but also suggests specific recommendations to make the text of the Regulations more ambitious. One of the main objectives of the Opinion is to promote conscious political participation by citizens and a role for civil society in ensuring transparent, accessible and honest political activities.
This Guidance sets out the Commission’s views on how platforms and other relevant stakeholders should step up their measures to address gaps and shortcomings in the Code and create a more transparent, safe and trustworthy online environment
In this opinion, the EESC recalls that media freedom, including the safety and security of journalists, and media pluralism are cornerstones of liberal democracy. It therefore notes with regrets that the developments within the EU are alarming and calls for urgent steps by Member States and the EU, including through the use of the new general regime of budget conditionality. The EESC welcomes the broad range of reports and initiatives by the European Parliament and the Commission, including the Commission's plan for a "European Media Freedom Act". It also supports measures to increase the safety of journalists and underlines the necessity of a legal ban on Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The EESC supports the idea of a European Agency to bolster media skills of EU citizens through educational programmes. It also proposes the creation of a fully independent European public service broadcaster.
The Communication stresses the EU's commitment to safeguarding an online environment providing the highest possible freedom and security, for the benefit of its citizens.
The EESC fully supports the European Commission's action plan on intellectual property as a very good and holistic approach to modernising the EU IP system. The EESC welcomes all measures to enforce the fight against IPR infringement, and the strengthening of the role of the European Anti-Fraud Office in the fight against counterfeiting.
The landscape of digital services is significantly different today from 20 years ago, when the eCommerce Directive was adopted. Online intermediaries have become vital players in the digital transformation. Online platforms in particular have created significant benefits for consumers and innovation, but at the same time, they can be used as a vehicle for disseminating illegal content, or selling illegal goods or services online.
The EESC welcomes the Commission proposal on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online, while calling for the indeterminate legal concepts such as "terrorist information, terrorist acts, terrorist groups or advocacy of terrorism" to be defined as precisely as possible. The EESC highlights the need to assess the effects of the application of this proposal on SMEs, as well as to consider transition arrangements facilitating their adaptation and a level playing field.
The Internet of Things (IoT), thanks to its interconnectivity of persons and objects, offers a vast range of opportunities for individuals and businesses. These opportunities must be backed by a series of safeguards and controls so as to ensure introduction of the IoT is problem-free. With this opinion the EESC aims to promote awareness-raising and digital capacity-building initiatives and calls inter alia on the European institutions and EU Member States to ensure that security and privacy are protection by building appropriate regulatory frameworks that contain strict monitoring and control provisions.