New rules proposed yesterday (29 March) by the European Commission would see child porn websites blocked from the Internet and ask for human traffickers to be handed maximum sentences of five to ten years in prison.
The proposal's scope would also punish grooming - luring victims via online chat forums - and seek to ensure that abusers cannot re-offend in another EU country.
The fight against child pornography has been gathering steam since abuse scandals at the hands of catholic clergymen were uncovered in Mainz, Germany, and the head of the Irish Catholic Church, Cardinal Sean Brady, issued a belated apology for his part in covering up abuse scandals in Ireland.
"Downloading or viewing child pornography on the Internet leads to more children being raped to produce those images," the EU's Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement yesterday.
"The response of the EU cannot be too clear or too resolute. Whatever the EU can possibly do against that, the EU must and will do," the commissioner added.
MEPs doubt that member states will approve the blocking of child porn websites, as this has been a controversial issue in the past.
German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht warned that the German government would in fact try to block any attempt by the EU to filter out illegal content online.
Albrecht alleges that the blocking of porn websites would lead authorities to block other unwanted content such as politically critical websites.
However, under the terms of the EU's revamped Lisbon Treaty, member states cannot block legislation on justice and home affairs matters.
The MEP wants the EU to write laws that make countries remove all online content featuring children being abused.
"Blocking websites merely offers an illusion of action, reducing pressure for effective policies to be implemented," argues Joe McNamee, a commentator from the UK's Guardian newspaper, criticising the EU's "populist" response to child porn websites.
The journalist also lambasts the EU for producing more legislation to protect intellectual property rights on the Internet but none to encourage the removal of child porn websites.