Recent terrorist attacks (from Christchurch to Hanau) and a string of foiled plots compelled many Member States (MSs) to prioritise violent right-wing extremism (VRWE) alongside the still present Islamist extremist (IE) threat. The Covid-19 pandemic, the economic recession and immigration to EU MSs in recent years have all contributed to the advance of VRWE. In the current climate, police must reorientate existing expertise and capacities for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) to take VRWE into account.
This paper identifies some of the most important challenges for police dealing with VRWE, and highlights potential first responses.
- Understanding the opaque, volatile landscape of VRWE ideologies, movements and organisations is key. Police need to update their intelligence on perpetrator types, modi operandi and targets, especially regarding lone actors and international networking.
- Another challenge is learning how to tread the line between legal and illegal actions, and how to navigate the broad grey area that often gives rise to ambivalence and uncertainty on mandates and proportional interventions.
- The growing importance of VRWE use of online platforms and media must also be considered: police capacities must be expanded if they are to tackle this online dimension of the phenomenon.