Today, European high-level representatives, policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts gathered to mark the 10-year anniversary of the EU-funded Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN). The network brings together EU and national policy makers, practitioners, researchers and experts, with the objective to exchange knowledge and first-hand experiences on preventing and countering violent extremism in all its forms. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, delivered an opening speech via video, followed by discussions on the RAN’s key achievements, as well as the current and future challenges. The High-level conference was chaired by the Deputy Director-General Olivier Onidi. It also featured Ministers, high-ranking officials from the EU members states, first-line practitioners, researchers, and policy makers discussing ways forward to effectively tackle emerging challenges of radicalisation towards violent extremism and terrorism.
The main topics of the conference included radicalisation in prisons, exit and the rehabilitation of returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) and their families. Participants also exchanged on the changing nature of the prevention of radicalisation work, notably online dimension of preventing radicalisation, the changes brought by the pandemic and any possible impact of the situation in Afghanistan.
Over the past decade, RAN has evolved from being a platform for exchange of best practices to tackling different subjects, notably the issue of Foreign Terrorist Fighters with the engagement of local communities. RAN produced multiple handbooks, manuals and other tools to assist practitioners in their daily work, in particular related to the rehabilitation and reintegration of former offenders, returnees, Foreign Terrorist Fighters and their families into society. During those first 10 years of existence RAN connected and empowered more than 6,000 first-line practitioners across the EU and fostering exchange and collaboration between practice, research, and policy, offers cause for both reflection and foresight. Those practitioners include social workers, youth workers, teachers, healthcare professionals, civil society representatives, local authority representatives, police officers and prison officers, working daily with those vulnerable to radicalisation and those already radicalised.
Over the past decade, the network produced multiple handbooks and manuals to assist professionals in their daily work, including on the rehabilitation and reintegration of former offenders, returnees, foreign terrorist fighters and their families into society.
The RAN also created its YOUNG Platform, with the aim to provide young people with a voice in preventing and countering violent extremism.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created circumstances that made individuals more vulnerable to radicalisation: overpowering uncertainty, rising unemployment rates, increased isolation, loss of lives, grievances, a massive increase in disinformation and misinformation, and governmental mistrust. In this context, along with the subsequent rise of online extremist narratives and threats, RAN has adapted and found new ways to engage with its target audience. Recently, RAN launched a new network in the Western Balkans to mobilise practitioners' expertise and facilitate exchange among professionals within the region as well as with their colleagues from the European Member States.
Preparing for future challenges
New approaches in the area of preventing and countering violent extremism can no longer be only based on face-to-face contact and interventions. They should entail online components to flag online signs of radicalisation and intervene through digital means. In this context, some of the following topics remain potentially relevant to be monitored: 3D-printed firearms, polarisation, youth radicalisation, lone actor phenomenon, mental illness lead to violence; or anti-vaccination ideologies and propaganda, as well as hostility towards modern technology.
In order to prevent and address violent extremism challenges in the best way possible, RAN aims to strengthen the evidence based policies and practices while continuing to support the knowledge building and exchanges between policy makers, researchers and practitioners. RAN is also seeking out connections to countries and networks outside the EU to develop fruitful collaborations and create a mutual learning environment, as presented in the EU 2020 Counter Terrorism Agenda,
The network is funded through the EU’s Internal Security Fund – Police. Preventing and addressing radicalisation is an important part of the Commission’s work on fostering security for all those living in Europe under the EU Security Union Strategy.
For more information
Commissioner Johansson Opening Speech – Video Message
European Commission (2020) A Counter-Terrorism Agenda for the EU: Anticipate, Prevent, Protect, Respond
EU (2020) Security Union Strategy
- Publication date
- 12 October 2021