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European networks won't prevent radicalisation, work on the ground will

29 May 2018

European networks won't prevent radicalisation, work on the ground will

The European Court of Auditors today presented a Special Report on the effectiveness of the European Commission's activities aimed at tackling radicalisation that leads to terrorism. Commenting on the report, SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong said: “The Court of Auditors confirms what everyone actually already knows, that talking shops in Brussels won't prevent radicalisation. It demands an approach through work in the neighbourhoods. The most you can do at European level is to draw up agreements to remove texts from the internet that encourage terrorist violence, but beyond that it's mainly a matter of finding out on the ground what is going on in vulnerable neighbourhoods. That's not something that the European Commission can or should do.”

The Court of Auditors' report reveals that there are so many directorates-general (the 'DGs' into which the European Commission is divided) and funds involved in preventing radicalisation that their activities are impossible to keep track of. “You often see in the case of politically interesting topics that all sorts of European Commissioners will pick up on the theme without asking themselves whether they are able to add anything of value,” notes De Jong. “I'd rather see the millions being reserved for these activities spent on the people who are active in the localities: police officers on the streets, teachers, health and care workers and people doing social work. Such people have no time to trip off to Brussels to exchange experiences, because they need to work hard in their own neighbourhoods. So I'm not surprised that the Court of Auditors confirms that it's for the most part policy officials who participate in these networks and not the people working on the ground.”

Far from every member state is taking part in the activities organised by the Commission. “That makes sense,” says De Jong. “Not all member states have problems with radicalisation to the same extent. The same applies within countries, where the situation is different in different towns and regions. That's why a European approach is doomed to fail. That could be different when it comes to tackling the encouragement of terrorism via the internet, where what you often see are matters which don't stop at national borders. But even there the Commission isn't able to show that its efforts are producing more results than those of the member states themselves. The Court of Auditors is right to conclude that assessment of these results must be improved.”

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