Europe’s Counter-Radicalization Efforts: Jihad Fighters Low on Priority List

Written by | Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Despite the vows of European leaders to prioritize the fight against radicalization, this security concern has so far received the smallest contribution from the EU security budget. The European Union has earmarked a mere €3.5 million in 2014 to prevent radicalisation and stop young adults from leaving Europe to fight in Syria and other war zones, which makes it the smallest allocation compared to any other security challenge. In contrast, the EU allocated €5.17 million to “Law Enforcement Information Exchange”, €5.1 million to “Fighting Cybercrime and Child Sexual Abuse”, and around €6 million to the fight against “Economic and Financial Crime, Corruption and Environmental Crime.”

Radicalization and the willingness of young Europeans to join terrorist organizations fighting in conflict areas has become one of the most pressing challenges for EU security in recent years and especially following the recent attacks in Paris and Brussels. After the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Brussels said that preventing radicalization was a “key element” of the fight against terrorism. In fact, it was defined as one of the three pillars of the EU security strategy along with judicial measures and law enforcement. Although this security issue has received a lot of attention and got high on the agenda, this has not yet been accompanied by an increased budget at the EU level. Looking at the block’s security priorities for last year, returned foreign fighters were not listed among the top ones, despite calls by EU authorities to take steps to tackle the issue.

Despite the fact that the primary responsibility in the fight against terrorism lies with national governments, “the EU can and should play a supportive role that helps respond to the cross-border nature of the threat”. The European Commission now also confirmed that it plans to allocate an extra €5 million for the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) Centre of Excellence. The RAN centre serves as a platform for exchange learning and best practices as well as facilitates collaboration of all stakeholders involved in the issues. The EU executive added that it had allocated €13.6 million to four anti-radicalisation projects in 2007-2013.

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