Preventing radicalisation

In “Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs - LIBE”

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Terrorism feeds on extremist ideologies. European Union action against terrorism needs to address the root causes of extremism through preventive measures. Throughout the EU, the link between radicalisation and extremist violence is becoming ever clearer. Extremist propaganda has been shown to lead some Europeans to travel abroad to train as terrorist fighters, fight and commit atrocities in combat zones, and threaten EU internal security on their return. Strengthening the EU’s own strategic communication with common narratives and factual representation of conflicts is an important aspect of the EU’s response. In its European agenda on security 2015-2020, proposed on 28 April 2015, the European Commission indicated that a strong and determined counter-narrative was crucial to eliminate terrorism’s support base.

In 2014, the Commission set out ten areas to structure efforts addressing the root causes of extremism. The Commission also set up an EU Internet Forum in November 2015 to tackle the problem of online radicalisation.

The Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) is an EU-wide umbrella network launched in 2011, and it links up more than 1 000 practitioners directly engaged in preventing radicalisation and enables the exchange of experience. The RAN Centre of Excellence acts as an EU knowledge hub, consolidating expertise and fostering the dissemination and exchange of experiences and cooperation on anti-radicalisation.

On 20 November 2015, following the terrorist attacks in Paris, the Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted conclusions on enhancing the criminal justice response to radicalisation leading to terrorism and violent extremism. The Council invited the Commission to allocate the necessary financial resources to implement the Council conclusions. The Commission was asked to support the development of rehabilitation programmes, as well as risk assessment tools, to determine the most appropriate criminal justice response.

The European Parliament, in an initiative resolution on preventing radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations adopted on 25 November 2015, in the immediate aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, sets out concrete proposals for a comprehensive strategy to tackle extremism. This strategy would be applied in particular in prisons, online and through education and social inclusion (rapporteur: Rachida Dati, EPP, France).

The following proposals are included in the report:

  • Adopting a common definition of foreign fighters to permit criminal proceedings to be carried out against them on their return to the EU; ensuring that foreign fighters are placed under judicial control and, if necessary, in administrative detention upon their return to Europe, until due judicial prosecution;
  • Setting up an EU blacklist of jihadis and jihadist terrorist suspects;
  • Stepping up the exchange of information between national law enforcement authorities and Europol;
  • Developing a comprehensive strategy on counter-terrorism;
  • Agreeing on EU Passenger Name Records (PNR) Directive by the end of 2015;
  • Carrying out passport confiscations and freezing financial assets to prevent potential foreign fighters from leaving the EU, accompanied by support systems such as hotlines where families and friends can get help quickly if they fear that someone is being radicalised;
  • Strengthening intercultural dialogue through educational systems and in disadvantaged neighbourhoods to prevent marginalisation and foster inclusion.


Further reading:

Author: Martina Prpic, Members' Research Service,

As of 20/11/2019.