Framework decision 2008/913 - Combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law

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Current status

This framework decision has been published on December  6, 2008 and entered into force on the same day.


Key information

official title

Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law
Legal instrument Framework decision
Number legal act Framework decision 2008/913
Original proposal COM(2001)664 EN
CELEX number i 32008F0913


Key dates

Document 28-11-2008
Publication in Official Journal 06-12-2008; OJ L 328, 6.12.2008,Special edition in Croatian: Chapter 19 Volume 016
Effect 06-12-2008; Entry into force Date pub. See Art 12
End of validity 31-12-9999


Legislative text



Official Journal of the European Union

L 328/55



of 28 November 2008

on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law


Having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Articles 29, 31 and 34(2)(b) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,

Having regard to the Opinion of the European Parliament (1),




Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.



The Action Plan of the Council and the Commission on how best to implement the provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam on an area of freedom, security and justice (2), the Conclusions of the Tampere European Council of 15 and 16 October 1999, the Resolution of the European Parliament of 20 September 2000 on the European Union’s position at the World Conference Against Racism and the current situation in the Union (3) and the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the biannual update of the Scoreboard to review progress on the creation of an area of ‘freedom, security and justice’ in the European Union (second half of 2000) call for action in this field. In the Hague Programme of 4 and 5 November 2004, the Council recalls its firm commitment to oppose any form of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia as already expressed by the European Council in December 2003.



Council Joint Action 96/443/JHA of 15 July 1996 concerning action to combat racism and xenophobia (4) should be followed by further legislative action addressing the need for further approximation of law and regulations of Member States and for overcoming obstacles for efficient judicial cooperation which are mainly based on the divergence of legal approaches in the Member States.



According to the evaluation of Joint Action 96/443/JHA and work carried out in other international fora, such as the Council of Europe, some difficulties have still been experienced regarding judicial cooperation and therefore there is a need for further approximation of Member States’ criminal laws in order to ensure the effective implementation of comprehensive and clear legislation to combat racism and xenophobia.



Racism and xenophobia constitute a threat against groups of persons which are the target of such behaviour. It is necessary to define a common criminal-law approach in the European Union to this phenomenon in order to ensure that the same behaviour constitutes an offence in all Member States and that effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties are provided for natural and legal persons having committed or being liable for such offences.



Member States acknowledge that combating racism and xenophobia requires various kinds of measures in a comprehensive framework and may not be limited to criminal matters. This Framework Decision is limited to combating particularly serious forms of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law. Since the Member States’ cultural and legal traditions are, to some extent, different, particularly in this field, full harmonisation of criminal laws is currently not possible.



In this Framework Decision ‘descent’ should be understood as referring mainly to persons or groups of persons who descend from persons who could be identified by certain characteristics (such as race or colour), but not necessarily all of these characteristics still exist. In spite of that, because of their descent, such persons or groups of persons may be subject to hatred or...


This text has been adopted from EUR-Lex.


Original proposal



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