Migration and Home Affairs

Prevention of radicalisation

Radicalisation can be understood a phased and complex process in which an individual or a group embraces a radical ideology or belief that accepts, uses or condones violence, including acts of terrorism within the meaning of the Directive on combating terrorism, to reach a specific political or ideological purpose. While radicalisation is not a new phenomenon, the trends, means and patterns of radicalisation evolved. Home-grown lone actors and (returning) foreign terrorist fighters raise security issues and specific challenges for prevent work, while the Internet and social media gave extremist and terrorist groups and their sympathisers new opportunities for mobilisation and communication.

Policy and legal framework

The prevention of radicalisation is primarily a responsibility of Member States. The EU Counter-terrorism Strategy adopted in 2005 recognised that the EU can provide an added value in particular by facilitating exchange of experiences and good practices, strengthen cooperation and increase joint capabilities.

The Commission set out its overall strategy in the European Agenda on Security stressing the holistic and multi actor approach and further developed its approach in the Communications of 2014: Preventing Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism: Strengthening the EU’s Response and 2016: Communication supporting the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism .

Following the Comprehensive Assessment of EU Security Policy, the Commission established the High-Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLCEG-R) to help further developing a more impactful response to the phenomenon. The group’s final report contains a number of concrete recommendations in priority areas such as radicalisation in prisons, countering online propaganda or supporting actors at the local level.

EU Cooperation Mechanism

The Fifteenth Progress Report towards an effective and genuine Security Union, 13 June 2018 took note of the HLCEG-R’s recommendations, and announced the creation of an EU Cooperation Mechanism, including:

  1. the “Steering Board on Union Actions on Radicalisation” (Steering Board) composed of Member States (with the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the European External Action Service as observers), offering Member States the opportunity to be more closely involved in advising on strategic priorities;
  2. the network of national prevent policy makers to facilitate further exchanges among Member States and to discuss concrete follow up actions;
  3. a reinforced coordination and support structure in the Commission, including through the nomination of a Security Union Task Force Coordinator on the Prevention of Radicalisation.

Support to Member States

To support Member States in their efforts to prevent radicalisation, the European Commission makes use of different policy instruments in all relevant policy areas, which include:

The Commission supports Member States to develop their prevent policies by creating appropriate framework conditions for the exchange of experiences and good practices and to strengthen capabilities in preventing and countering radicalisation. Practical Member State support in the form of workshops or advisory team deployments is delivered by the Radicalisation Awareness Network.

Many Member States have developed strategies, action plans and other initiatives to tackle radicalisation. A compilation of publicly available information can be found here. Member States have also launched specific projects among like-minded Member States (so called Project Based Collaborations) to discuss specific topics: the reports issued can be found here.

EU Networks

In order to strengthen cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and practices between the different stakeholders taking part in the prevention of radicalisation and violent extremism, the Commission established a number of networks for cooperation and exchange:

  • The EU Internet Forum brings together the European Commission, EU Member States, internet industry and the EU Internet Referral Unit of Europol. Its main objective is twofold: to reduce terrorist content and to empower civil society to offer effective alternative narratives online through the Civil Society Empowerment Programme.
  • The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) links practitioners, including police, prison and probation officers, teachers, youth and social workers, psychologists, victim’s associations, communication experts, local government agencies and local communities. 
  • The European Strategic Communications Network (ESCN) is a network of 27 European Member States, funded by the European Commission, which collaborates to share analysis, good practice and ideas on the sustainable use of strategic communications in countering violent extremism.

Funding and research

The European Commission provides financial support to projects and initiatives to better understand and counter the process of radicalisation leading to violent extremism and terrorism inter alia by identifying key influencing factors, extremist ideologies and recruitment mechanisms while also developing good practices and concrete guidance and tools.

For an overview presenting funding instruments, relevant calls for proposals, flagship initiatives as well as selected projects that can make a relevant contribution to tackling radicalisation go here.