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Developing a comprehensive approach to violent radicalization in the EU from early understanding to improving protection


Terrorism in Europe now finds its inspiration in a larger variety of ideologies, as described in the 2013 Europol TE-Sat report: nationalist, anarchist, separatist, violent left-wing or right-wing ideologies, or Al Qaida- or Daesh-inspired ideologies.

Preventing and countering radicalisation must engage the whole of society, and requires a holistic treatment, and a multidisciplinary approach.

Factors constituting a violent radicalisation process can be many: familial, social, gender-based, socio-economical, psychological, religious, ideological, historical, cultural, political, propaganda-, social media- or internet-based. Events and conditions leading a person from ideas to violent action are also numerous, and mechanisms so complex that they need to be broken down to be understood.

Radicalised individuals, including recent converts, Europeans or foreigners, get organized in various ways: centralised and hierarchical organisations; networks; smaller groups based in Europe or on foreign territories; cells; and lone actors operating in a more unconstrained and unpredictable way. It is important to understand how networks and groups act towards the violent radicalisation of individuals.

Further to the recommendations of the Radicalisation Awareness Network, and to the work undertaken in the ongoing FP7 and other projects in the area, a better understanding of the causes and processes may lead to innovative, ethical solutions to counter violent actions taken by radicalized male or female individuals (policies for preventing violent extremism; counter-communication disseminated either online (YouTube, special forums, Twitter etc.) or offline (in the classroom or in one-to-one interventions for example), since preventing violent radicalisation is also about winning the hearts and minds and countering extremist propaganda; surveillance, investigation, and protection techniques; forensic tools), whilst preserving the fundamentals rights of the citizens.

While Societal Challenge 6 mainly focuses on studying the phenomenon of radicalization, in order to provide input to the successive policy-making, proposals under this topic should focus on developing policy recommendations and practical solutions to be implemented by security end-users.

In line with the EU's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation[[COM(2012)497]] international cooperation is encouraged, and in particular with international research partners involved in ongoing discussions and workshops, with the European Commission. Legal entities established in countries not listed in General Annex A and international organisations will be eligible for funding only when the Commission deems participation of the entity essential for carrying out the action.

Indicative budget: The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of € 3million would allow for this topic to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Radicalisation leading to violent acts can have a huge impact on the society and its citizens: politically (seeding division between communities), economically, emotionally, and in terms of security. The roots of radicalisation are not well-known, whilst well-targeted response to emerging challenges of violent extremism cannot be developed without a full understanding of what drives the process of radicalisation and of how individuals may react to countermeasures. Also, terrorist groups and extremists are capitalising on advances in technology to spread propaganda and radical behaviours, but traditional law enforcement techniques are insufficient to deal with these new, evolving trends in radicalisation. The key in democratic societies is to ensure citizens’ rights to free thought – even radical thought – while protecting society from the fallout of illegal actions from violent radicalised groups and individuals.

As a result of this action, security policy-makers and law enforcement agencies should benefit from a full set of policy recommendations and tools aimed at improving their ability to prevent and detect radicalisation by national and local security practitioners in a timely manner, i.e. before individuals turn towards violent, criminal or terrorists acts, including:

  • Comparative analysis of different types of policies (e.g. preventive vs. legal and administrative measures) including counter-propaganda techniques;
  • Improved description of competencies, skills and characteristics of the various types of practitioners involved in preventing, detecting or countering violent extremism;
  • Improved information exchange between the different actors involved, including security practitioners, family of the radicalised individual, school/workplace of the radicalised individual;
  • Field-validation of new approaches to anti-radicalisation directly applicable to support practitioners.