The EU Commission Vice President tasked with leading the EU’s fight against antisemitism has declared that “antisemitism is not just a Jewish problem. It is not just a local problem. It is a European, and a global issue.”
Margaritas Schinas made the comments at an online conference on increasing hate crimes, ‘Working together to fight antisemitism in Europe: Structures and strategies for a holistic approach’.
All EU countries have been encouraged to explore a holistic approach that incorporates security, education and an active celebration of Jewish life, identity and faith. Seven EU Member States have adopted, or are in the process of incorporating, a “self-standing strategy” on antisemitism, with a further seven introducing specific measures within broader strategies against racism and extremism.
In his keynote address, Mr Schinas said that the European Commission is working with partners to issue and circulate practical guidance and effective examples on the use of the International Definition of Antisemitism. The governments of several EU Member States have adopted the Definition so far. Britain was the first country in the world to adopt the Definition, something for which Campaign Against Antisemitism and Lord Pickles worked hard over many meetings with officials at Downing Street.
Mr Schinas stated that the Commission has also launched an immediate measure to increase awareness of disinformation and online content following incidents earlier this year. However, he highlighted concerns raised in the recent EU Fundamental Rights Agency which, in an annual overview on antisemitism, claimed that most acts of hatred towards the Jewish community remain unreported.
He argued that it is imperative for Member States to improve both methodologies and criteria in the collection of antisemitic hate crime data, as currently the true extent of the threat is unknown. The Commission is investing almost €8 million and hosting a series of discussions amongst leading experts to ensure police statistics better match and support civil society and Jewish community data.
In December, the Commission is hoping to host the fourth Working Group meeting on antisemitism, with representatives from various Member States and Jewish communities in attendance. With fresh momentum from the German Presidency, the Vice President described this as an “ideal moment” to present how far the continent has come, and what more will need to happen for a future rid of antisemitism.
The Vice President said that the issue of antisemitism will remain a high priority in the EU’S political agenda.