Drivers and contexts of violent extremism in the broader MENA region and the Balkans Proposals should produce country and regional analyses of the interplay between religion, politics and identity. This should include country and regional comparisons. Religious extremism in particular should be addressed from angles such as drivers, narratives, authority figures and formal leadership. Radical interpretations and appropriations of religion to justify violent extremism as well as their impact on individual rights (including women's rights and gender issues more broadly) should be studied. Links to recent developments with an impact on Europe - such as the issue of foreign fighters and the role of diasporas and community leaders - should be assessed.Concrete proposals should be made on which preventive measures are effective and should be stepped up. In particular, research should examine to what extent this is the case with measures such as strengthening moderate voices among religious and other communities, fostering education and inclusion as tools for reconciliation, promoting online media literacy and countering radical propaganda. Proposals should involve relevant actors (e.g. policymakers, religious leaders, representatives of civil society) to ensure mutual learning and take-up of results.The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Parts of the broader Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and of the Balkans have been experiencing ethnic, religious and territorial conflicts and civil wars as well as a rise in violent extremism fuelled or justified also by religious interpretations. More empirical and interdisciplinary research is needed to understand the various historical, geopolitical, socioeconomic, ideological, cultural, psychological, and demographic factors that drive these conflicts and violent extremism in these regions. The various ways in which these phenomena impact Europe also need closer scrutiny. The action will improve the knowledge base on violent extremism in the broader MENA region and the Balkans. It will ensure a step-up in mutual learning between the EU and third countries in light of common challenges.