In the absence of a generally accepted definition under international law, “terrorism” can be defined as the intentional and systematic use of actions designed to provoke terror in the public as a
The EU firmly believes in eradicating terrorism at its source. Therefore, preventing terrorist attacks by addressing and stopping terrorist radicalisation and recruitment is a priority for the EU, as outlined in the EU Internal Security Strategy in Action. Radicalisation in this sense is understood as a complex phenomenon of people embracing radical ideology that could lead to the commitment of terrorist acts.
Terrorist radicalisation and recruitment are not confined to one faith or political ideology. This is best demonstrated by the fact that Europe has experienced different types of terrorism in its history. It is important to underline that the vast majority of Europeans, irrespective of belief or political conviction, reject terrorist ideology. Even among the small number of people that do not reject such ideology, only a few turn to terrorism. Preventing terrorist radicalisation and recruitment will only work if we remain fully dedicated to respecting fundamental rights, promoting integration and cultural dialogue and fighting discrimination.
Radicalisation that can lead to acts of terrorism is best contained at a level closest to the most vulnerable individuals. It requires close cooperation with local authorities and civil society. Therefore, the core of the action on radicalisation and recruitment is, and should remain, at national level. However, the EU can provide an important framework to help coordinate national policies, share information and determine good practices.
Under the EU Internal Security Strategy in Action, the Commission promotes actions empowering communities and key groups that are engaged in the prevention of terrorist radicalisation and recruitment. To this end, it has established an EU-wide Radicalisation Awareness Network, which connects key groups of people involved in countering violent radicalisation across the EU. Thus, researchers, social workers, religious leaders, youth leaders, policemen and others working on the ground in vulnerable communities are able to exchange ideas and best practices, in particular on how to challenge terrorist narratives and recruitment. They are able to pool experiences and knowledge to enhance awareness on radicalisation and to encourage credible opinion leaders to voice positive messages that offer alternatives to terrorist narratives.
Since 2005, work in this field has been guided by the EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment. While recognising EU States' authority as security-providers, the strategy contains joint standards and measures that aim at preventing terrorist radicalisation and recruitment, grouped under three key headings:
The Commission has been supporting research and studies in order to better understand the process of radicalisation, key influencing factors, ideologies and recruitment mechanisms. It has also established a European Network of Experts on Radicalisation (ENER) to provide a platform for discussing the phenomenon of radicalisation and to assist EU and national level policy-makers in gathering expertise and identifying and exchanging good practices in the field of prevention.
The Commission has also supported research in methods used for countering the dissemination of terrorist propaganda, especially on the Internet. This has been supplemented by the promotion of a public-private partnership and dialogue between law enforcement authorities and Internet service providers, in order to reduce terrorism-related and other illegal content on the Internet. In addition, the Commission has been active in enhancing law enforcement authorities' technical resources and know-how regarding the tools and methodologies for detecting illegal content online.
Under its Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme – ISEC, the Commission has provided support to governmental and non-governmental actors in developing EU-wide cooperation and actions to address the challenge of and to strengthen individual and community resilience against radicalisation.