Europe needs more appropriate powers to fight extremism: Germany’s Westerwelle
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Jewish leaders on Monday that the European Union needed better legal means to fight racism in member states.
Speaking amid growing racism against Jews and Roma in Hungary, he told the World Jewish Congress (WJC) assembly that the EU’s legal options to curb violations of democratic norms were either as weak as toothpicks or as strong as bazookas.
“Between the toothpick and the big bazooka, there is not an instrument we can (use) if concerning developments start in a government or in a country,” he told WJC leaders, who held their assembly in Budapest to highlight rising anti-Semitism here.
“Tolerance is wise,” he said the four-yearly assembly, but “tolerance in the face of intolerance is historic foolishness”.
About half a million Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, the German mass murder of 6 million Jews during World War Two.
Four EU members: Denmark, Finland, Germany and Netherlands, have proposed the European Commission should be able to take action when fundamental rights are violated, without having to go through the complicated steps that now exist for such cases.
But the proposal, which Westerwelle said was supported by about three quarters of all EU foreign ministers, names no countries causing concern and puts forward no concrete plans.
Brussels has threatened to take legal action to overturn recent constitutional changes that limit the powers of Hungary’s top court. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has also clashed with Brussels over legislation on the media and the central bank.
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