What is it about?

In June 2016, the European Commission adopted a Communication supporting the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism. The Communication outlines actions in seven specific areas where cooperation at EU level can bring added value, notably in the areas of education, training and youth.

The Communication contributes to the follow-up of the Paris Declaration on Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination, which in 2015 was adopted by European Education Ministers and Commissioner Navracsics.

The Declaration calls for the mobilisation of the education sector to promote inclusion and fundamental values. It establishes a list of concrete objectives to be pursued at national and local level and defines four overarching priorities for cooperation at EU-level:

  • Ensuring young people acquire social, civic and intercultural competences, by promoting democratic values and fundamental rights, social inclusion and non-discrimination, as well as active citizenship
  • Enhancing critical thinking and media literacy, particularly in the use of the Internet and social media, so as to develop resistance to discrimination and indoctrination
  • Fostering the education of disadvantaged children and young people, by ensuring that our education and training systems address their needs; and
  • Promoting intercultural dialogue through all forms of learning in cooperation with other relevant policies and stakeholders

How is it achieved?

The follow-up of the Declaration is a key priority of the cooperation between the Member States supported by the European Commission in the field of education and training (ET2020 strategic framework) and youth as set out in the ET 2020 Joint Report and the Youth Joint Report.

In May 2016, Commissioner Tibor Navracsics hosted a High-Level Colloquium on Promoting Inclusion and Fundamental Values through Education - a Way to Prevent Violent Radicalisation.

Furthermore, Council Conclusions on Inclusion in Diversity to achieve a High Quality Education For All were adopted on February 17 2017.

Peer learning and the exchange of good practices are key activities under ET 2020 and cooperation with the youth sector. It is also an important activity in implementing the Paris Declaration. Two dedicated Working Groups have been established for this purpose, comprising the main stakeholders:

To support the implementation of the Paris Declaration, the Erasmus+ programme provides funding for transnational cooperation projects:

  • In 2016, Erasmus+ is making more than EUR 400 million available to transnational partnership to develop innovative policy approaches and practices at grass-roots level. Within this envelope, priority is given to projects that address the objectives of the Paris Declaration
  • A dedicated envelope of EUR 13 million has been set aside to support the dissemination and upscaling of good practices from grass-roots level
  • In 2017, the Commission is planning to further support the implementation of the Declaration through both regular and dedicated actions under the Erasmus+ programme

In support of the follow-up to the Paris Declaration, evidence-based policy-making is also a key priority and relies on the following actions:

Since 2013, the Commission has been implementing a joint programme with the Council of Europe, "Human Rights and Democracy in Action". The programme aims at collecting and disseminating information on citizenship education and developing practical tools, such as curricula and teaching material to support participating countries in fostering citizenship and human rights education. As of 2016, the programme will be further reinforced to support also the piloting of the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture launched by the Council of Europe in April 2016.

The focus on social inclusion and citizenship through formal and non-formal learning also entails that special attention is paid to learners from vulnerable groups, including with a migrant background, from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, Roma, LGBTI, and learners with special needs.

What's next?

The Working Group on Promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education has the mandate to prepare a policy framework on promoting inclusion and fundamental values through education, as well as an online compendium of good practices, by June 2018.

The Working Group on Youth will, by the end of 2016, develop a specific toolkit which will provide guidance to youth workers and youth organisations, adaptable to the specific needs of the different Member States. It will provide examples on how to spot and react to early signs of radicalisation and increase democratic resilience of young people, how to help them become media-literate and think critically, and how to resolve conflicts in a non-violent way.

The Commission is also supporting the following actions:

  • the expansion of the European Toolkit for Schools, a new online platform for schools and teachers offering good practice examples and resources on how to introduce collaborative approaches in schools to improve inclusiveness and achieve success for all
  • the expansion of the online eTwinning platform, connecting teachers and classrooms across Europe, as well as teacher training courses on citizenship education through Erasmus+
  • establishing a network to facilitate direct contacts with positive role models in schools, youth, sport clubs and prisons
  • the piloting and roll out of a new Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange initiative which will enable young people to exchange views and ideas through structured and facilitated web-conferences with the aim to enhance inter-cultural awareness and tolerance
  • incentives for higher education institutions to award credits for volunteering and to develop curricula that combine academic content with civic engagement
  • the strengthening of the European Voluntary Service where priority will be given to support projects promoting common values, media literacy and critical thinking
  • reinforced support to grass-roots youth projects in Erasmus+ involving new actors – such as municipalities – to allow for scaling-up of local initiatives within larger, cross-border partnerships
  • the promotion of successful and innovative projects through a European Award for Social Inclusion in Sport
  • Toolkit for youth workers on preventing violent radicalisation