The EU on Friday failed to agree on a general approach to fight racism and xenophobia in the EU states, mainly due to Italy’s opposition. Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino expressed dissatisfaction with the line member states are taking over this issue, saying it will mean less protection against racism and discrimination. “The trend the Council is following does not deserve our agreement,” Commissioner Vitorino said. “We consider that this framework decision is below the percentage of harmonisation that was possible to achieve already on the basis of the common joint action of 1996… and will not be considered by the Commission as the appropriate legal tool.”
The EU hopes wants to have common criminal law approach in the EU against racism and xenophobia in order to ensure that the same behaviour will be considered an offence in all EU States. It also wants effective penalties and sanctions for persons who commit such offences. Yet member state Justice Ministers failed once to agree on a deal. Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli asked the Council to wait for the outcome of the Convention’s discussion before taking a decision. The Convention on the future of Europe is currently drafting a constitutional treaty for the EU. Mr Castelli also said that the Council decision on this issue could be used as a tool to attack political enemies. Italy fears that measures against racism and discrimination could be used against the right wing populist Northern League party led by Umberto Bossi, which also forms part of the coalition government, sources told the EUobserver.