Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission
The European Commission is aware of and concerned about the rise of racist and extremist acts in the EU. Fascism, Nazism and other totalitarian ideologies are incompatible with the principles upon which the European Union is founded. The Commission has repeatedly rejected and condemned all manifestations of racism, xenophobia and antisemitism, regardless of whom they come from, and it will continue to fight against them in line with its powers, by making use of the instruments at its disposal.
Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA obliges Member States to penalise the intentional public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, including the incitement committed by public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material. The intentional public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation, directed against such a group or a member of such a group, of the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal of 8 August 1945, shall also be penalised when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite to violence or hatred. Legal persons can also be held liable for these offences(1).
Member States were obliged to transpose the framework decision into their national legislation by 28 November 2010. The Commission is following closely the correct transposition of this instrument, inter alia through the group of governmental experts it created. The Commission recalls that it is for the national courts to determine, according to the surrounding circumstances and context, whether a concrete situation represents an incitement to violence or hatred on the basis of race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
The dissemination of Nazi or fascist symbols is not, as such, banned at EU level. It pertains to Member States to take the necessary measures, notably in terms of education and information, to ensure that the memory of the criminal and totalitarian nature of fascism and Nazism is preserved.