The Council adopted a directive aimed at combating sexual abuse and the exploitation of children as well as child pornography. The directive harmonises about 20 criminal offences, setting a high level of penalties.
The directive penalises a number of offences across the EU (including the sexual abuse of children, sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and grooming, i.e. soliciting children for sexual purposes on the internet) and sets lower thresholds for their maximum penalties as compared to a previous framework decision from 2004.
Concerning online child pornography, the text obliges member states to ensure the prompt removal of websites hosted in their territory and to endeavour to obtain their removal if hosted outside their territory. In addition, member states may block access to web pages, but must follow transparent procedures and provide safeguards if they make use of this possibility.
The directive will also strike hard on the sex tourism industry: firstly, by introducing compulsory jurisdiction over nationals who commit crimes abroad, and secondly by establishing preventive measures to such effect. The new rules also include provisions to prevent paedophiles moving abroad and taking advantage of the free movement of workers within the EU.