Tarja Mankkinen: Violent radicalisation is a joint challenge for the whole of Europe
Violent radicalisation and the rise in the activities of extremist movements are a challenge that the whole of Europe shares. It is also a cross-border threat. Extremist movements aim to instil fear and insecurity, and their activities undermine people’s trust in society. Extremist movements advocate ideologies that run counter to the European Union’s fundamental values.
The activities of these movements impact not only the individuals and groups they target but also everyone’s security and sense of safety and security. The most extreme forms of violent radicalisation result in terrorist attacks that target innocent people, with the aim of creating fear among people. If we are to maintain and strengthen our common European values and strengths, we must combat violent extremism in all its forms.
Threats that cross borders demand cross-border cooperation
In recent years, EU member states have significantly stepped up cooperation and exchange of experiences on effective ways to prevent violent radicalisation. The Commission and member states drafted proposals for priorities and for structured coordination of work being carried out in the EU. The proposals were adopted by the Council in summer 2018 and they are currently being implemented.
EU funding for preventive work has also increased, and for example, the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) has been granted significantly more funds than before.
Conference on preventing violent radicalisation looks to the future
Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU will be organising a conference in Helsinki titled ‘Preventing Violent Radicalisation – Looking to the Future’ on 17 and 18 September 2019. To prevent violent radicalisation, we need extensive cooperation. With this in mind, the conference on preventing violent radicalisation will be attended by practitioners, authorities, other experts as well as researchers from different countries. The conference will include presentations and we will discuss whether we have done the right things in the EU member states, where we have succeeded, how we can continue improving our work and what we should be prepared for the future.
Besides foresight, we need to assess efforts already taken
One of the challenges in preventing radicalisation is that the threats related to violent extremist movements evolve at a fast pace. Different extremist movements learn new techniques from one another and exploit each other’s experiences. Their activities mutate, which means that the priorities, practices and procedures used in prevention must keep abreast of the developments. This is why it is important to look to the future and hear about evaluations on what might possibly lie ahead.
In addition to assessing future developments, it is also important to assess efforts already taken. The National Action Plan for the Prevention of Violent Radicalisation and Extremism adopted in 2016 was assessed by an independent auditing firm. This proved to be a useful exercise. Assessments of this kind are still fairly rare but are expected to increase over time.