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EU Creates Tool To Counter Violent Extremism

A German police car stands in front of the Islamic Information Center (IIZ) during a raid in Ulm in 2007.
A German police car stands in front of the Islamic Information Center (IIZ) during a raid in Ulm in 2007.
In light of the 9/11 anniversary and the recent massacre in Norway, it comes as no surprise that the European Commission has come up with a proposal to combat violent extremism.

The EU has limited scope in questions dealing with justice and home affairs, so you are unlikely to see draconian counterterrorism laws or proposals for European Homeland Security come from Brussels anytime soon.

In fields with minimal say, the EU instead tries to act as a sort of facilitator, creating platforms between various actors. True to form, the EU Commission launched the EU Radicalization Awareness Network today, in the hope of bringing together community leaders, teachers, police, victims, and youth associations from EU member states who will share information and best practices on how to combat violent extremism.

It might seem a puny response to a serious threat, and critics will no doubt wonder what the point of the network is, since it cannot exchange information or create registers of potentially dangerous individuals.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem was, however, adamant in pointing out that traditional law-enforcement tools are not enough to counter violent extremism. She promised to back up the project with 8 million euros for the next four years, with an additional 4 million available for projects on preventing radicalization.

She also added that she would dispel the myth that the commission is like a crocodile (big mouth and small ears). The big question is, however, whether listening more and talking less is the best recipe for preventing terrorist attacks in Europe.

-- Rikard Jozwiak

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