17 June 2014
The evolution of the terrorist threat and of radicalisation patterns call for more efforts to counter extremism that leads to violence. On 17th June, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström hosted a High Level conference in Brussels where experts, practitioners and policy makers from all over Europe shared their experiences and discussed concrete actions for better prevention.
"In some EU Member States, much is being done to counter violent extremism, but others are lagging behind. All Member States need to be brought up to speed. An acute challenge is how to prevent Europeans from travelling to participate in the bloody conflict in Syria. Thousands of families around Europe are facing this tragic problem but have no one to turn to for help. We need to do much more to support them at the local level, developing concrete tools like family support hotlines and exit programmes", said Commissioner Malmström.
New concrete measures are now taking shape. The Commission is preparing for the launch of a European knowledge hub on Prevention of Radicalisation leading to Terrorism and Violent Extremism to be operational early 2015. The future Knowledge Hub should serve as a forum for the exchange of good practices, as a think tank formulating policy recommendations and for experts to harness research. It should also work as a service provider and operational tool to help Member States and stakeholders in their efforts, by, for instance, sending out expert teams to support authorities in setting up training of field personnel, exit programmes or hotlines. For the functioning of the Hub, the Commission has earmarked €16 million between 2015 and 2018.
Important tools have been developed already, including by setting up the Radicalisation Awareness Network to support Member States' efforts to tackle radicalisation. But more can be done, for instance to address challenges faced online and encourage so called de-radicalisation or exit programs. At the high-level meeting, such online challenges were discussed by participating experts and authorities, as well as high-level representatives from the technology industry.
In her speech at the meeting, Commissioner Malmström said on the topic of online challenges:
"While it might seem convenient to simply just take material off the internet, this is not a viable solution. While illegal material should of course be removed, much of the content that extremist groups put online is still not illegal. We therefore need to engage with the industry and civil society to find other solutions to counter terrorist propaganda."
Read Cecilia Malmström's full speech from the event.