AuthorPetra Bárd - Judit Bayer
IPOL | Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs
16 PE 655.135
Proving the interconnectedness of values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union
(TEU),1 such as the rule of law, democracy, fundamental rights including the protection of minorities,
hate speech and hate crimes threaten individual rights, social groups, and public peace and public
order equally. They effect individuals’ human dignity, private lives, or in cases of violent bias crimes,
their life and limb. They prevent sensible democratic dialogue through accelerating social tensions and
polarisation, and therefore they are detrimental to societies, and to democracy as a whole.
Discrimination and hatred erode solidarity which is a cornerstone of European integration. The incited
negative emotions fuel arbitrariness, and abuse of rights, which endanger the rule of law. No society is
intact from the signs of hatred, but it depends primarily on the social measures that are applied to deal
with this basic human instinct, whether it gets tamed or dispersed and strengthened.
Parallel with the worldwide decline concerning the trinity of the rule of law, democracy and
fundamental rights during the past couple of years,2 states not only seem to fail in addressing societal
hatred, but some of them are instigating it. As the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance has put it, political rhetoric, especially
nationalist populist ideologies pose a threat to equality by fuelling discrimination and intolerance.3
Already last year, before the election to the European Parliament (EP) in May 2019, Members of the
European Parliament (MEPs) felt the need to adopt a resolution on neo-fascist violence in Europe. It
condemned “hate crime, hate speech and scapegoating by politicians and public officials as they
directly normalise and reinforce hatred and violence in society.”4 This is a problem that has already
been there in pre-pandemic times, but has been aggravated by and became more visible during the
Covid-19 pandemic.5
1.1. Covid-19 and the spread of hatred
This study was written partially during the outbreak of Covid-19 in the spring 2020. States derogated
from constitutional checks, and limited rights and freedoms of their citizens, residents and foreigners.
In this climate hostile towards democracy, dangerous with respect to the rule of law, human rights are
also more prone to be infringed. A pandemic does not turn state agents and societies into human rights
violators, but it shows more clearly their true colours, i.e. pre-existing problems and social tensions.
Carrera, S., Guild, E., Hernanz, N., The Triangular Relationship between Fundamental Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law in the EU: Towards
an EU Copenhagen Mechanism, CEPS, Brussels, 2013.
“More countries declined than improved in overall rule of law performance for a third year in a row, continuing a negative slide toward
weakening and stagnating rule of law around the world,”, available at
rule-law-index-2020. For the entire World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020, available at
United Nations (UN), General Assembly (2018), Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance, A/73/305, 6 August 2018.
European Parliament, European Parliament Resolution of 25 October 2018 on the rise of neo-fascist violence in Europe (2018/2869(RSP)),
P8_TA(2018)0428, Strasbourg, 2018. Interestingly the Hungarian translation mentions “scapegoating of” and not “scapegoating by
politicians. The present study relies on the English versions of EU texts.
Bárd, P.,Carrera, S., ‘Showing true illiberal colours – Rule of law vs Orbán's pandemic politics’, CEPS Policy Insights 2020-10, April 2020,
CEPS, Brussels, pp. 1-17.

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