Three years after the Brussels attacks: No quick fix to counter terrorism and radicalisation

20 March 2019
Amanda Paul (Senior Policy Analyst) and Tommaso Virgili (Programme Director, European Foundation for Democracy)

In the three years since the Brussels terrorist attacks, the EU has taken many positive steps towards developing measures that help prevent radicalisation and terrorist acts. These include initiatives on intelligence sharing, countering online radicalisation and strengthening cooperation with third countries. There has also been a notable shift from hard security measures to a more holistic approach in cooperation with grassroots organisations and frontline practitioners to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities.

In this EPC-EFD (European Foundation for Democracy) Policy Brief, EPC Senior Policy Analyst Amanda Paul  and EFD Programme Director Tommaso Virgili provide a detailed overview of the EU’s recent efforts to counter radicalisation and terrorism. They furthermore argue that despite the substantial progress, much more can be done in terms of prevention, boosting support for frontline practitioners so they can better detect the first signs of radicalisation, and improving the monitoring and evaluation of EU programmes and policies.

Many challenges remain, such as the return of foreign fighters to Europe and radicalisation in prisons. Moving forward, it is also crucial to determine what ‘radicalisation’ entails precisely, so that practitioners and policymakers can develop effective counter-narratives that can stop the spread of radical and extremist ideologies.

In the end, there is no simple recipe to prevent radicalisation and the violence stemming from it. The phenomenon is complex, multifaceted and far-reaching. Our response to it should be equally wide-ranging, comprehensive and multilayered.

Download here