PARIS (JTA) — The European Jewish Congress welcomed steps by the Council of the European Union to heavily sanction hate crime and genocide denial.
The EJC "applauds" the framework decision adopted by the E.U. Council on Dec. 1, which the Jewish organization "promoted" over the course of seven years, according to a statement.
"For the first time in the history of the E.U., victims of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic acts will be protected under blanket legislation throughout the European continent," according to an EJC statement.
The framework gives E.U. countries two years to establish "severe sanctions" such as one to three years of imprisonment for perpetrators of racist, "publicly incited violence or hatred," plus denying or trivializing crimes against humanity, and crimes of genocide and war, according to the Web site of the Vice President of the E.U. Council, Jacques Barrot.
"Racism and xenophobia have no place in Europe," Barrot wrote in a statement. "I warmly welcome the introduction of severe and effective sanctions."