Monday

11th Dec 2017

Radicalism on the rise in Europe, EU commissioner says

  • Over 1,200 EU nationals are said to be fighting or training in places like Syria, Sudan, and Somalia, posing a threat for European security if they return (Photo: Francesco Rivetti)

The European Commission has said preventive action is needed to stop what it sees as spreading radicalism across the EU.

“We see that extremism, xenophobia and nationalism keeps growing in Europe [and] we see worrying signals that these groups act as breeding grounds of ideology motivated by violence and extremist views,” EU commissioner for home affairs Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (15 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

To counter what she views as an internal security threat, Malmstrom announced a series of recommendations which she wants member states to immediately implement.

Among the new ideas is a €20 million fund to set up a so-called European knowledge hub, which is to pool expertise and support existing initiatives on the issue.

Other proposals include having member states set up national strategies and “de-radicalisation” programmes to help people leave extremist groups.

The recommendations will add to the EU’s arsenal of some 240 existing counter-terrorism measures (88 of which are legally binding) adopted since the World Trade Centre attack in 2001, according to the London-based civil liberties group Statewatch.

Malmstrom lumped far-left groups in with nationalist ideologues, al-Qaeda-inspired ideologies and right-wing extremists as parts of the radicalism trend.

According to Malmstrom, extremist groups are those that incite people to commit acts of violence.

She also wants member states to set up preventive radicalisation programmes with countries outside the EU.

Radical groups, for their part, are said to be recruiting and spreading their views through online social networking sites and chat rooms.

Member states need to provide counter platforms to combat the online propaganda, says the commission.

But other supposed threats are also on the horizon.

The commission estimates some 1,200 EU nationals are currently either fighting or training alongside radicals in Syria, Sudan, or Somalia.

“It [the number] could be higher,” said Malmstrom.

Some but not all, she noted, have joined terrorist organisations.

“They’ve been trained and hardened in war and can pose a threat to our security upon their return from a conflict zone and in the longer term, they an also act as catalysts for terrorism,” said the commissioner.

Meanwhile, some new EU legislation designed to help identify the potential threats is stuck in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee.

MEPs last April rejected the European Commission’s 2011 proposal to set up an EU-wide passagener name record system, which would allow police investigators to identify and track suspicious travel itineraries.

Opposing euro-deputies say the commission’s proposal fails to address fundamental rights issues.

The European Data protection supervisor and the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights at the time questioned its “necessity” and “proportionality.”

Member states can set up their national PNR systems, but are unable to co-ordinate their data without the EU law in place.

They also have at their disposal the Schengen Information System, a large database that alerts police to criminals, politically exposed persons, or irregular migrants who no longer have a right to stay in the EU.

Opinion

Sweden and Finland defend free press

Some 250 years after the two Nordic countries passed press freedom laws, their foreign ministers urge the EU to do more to protect free speech inside the EU and beyond.

Romania wants EU signal on Schengen membership

Bucharest expects other member states to decide on its accession to the passport-free area before it takes the rotating EU presidency on 1 January 2019 - amid criticism of a controversial new justice reform.

Germany says China using LinkedIn to recruit informants

Germany's spy agency says the Chinese state is trying to recruit high-ranking German officials via social media outlets like LinkedIn. It accused Chinese intelligence of setting up fake profiles to lure them into becoming informants.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  2. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  3. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  5. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  7. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  8. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  9. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  10. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  11. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  12. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage