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EU to target violent right-wing extremism, terrorism and "other extreme political movements"
28.1.20
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The EU is taking action to counter "right-wing violent extremism and terrorism" through information-sharing, the development of anti-radicalisation and risk analysis programmes, online censorship and cooperation with third countries. As well as the far-right, "this work shall also address violent extremism and terrorism stemming from other extreme political movements," according to a document produced by the Council Presidency in November 2019.

See: Right-wing violent extremism and terrorism - follow-up (14132/19, LIMITE, 14 November 2019, pdf)

Following proposals from the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and agreement at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in October last year, officials have agreed to take forward work in this area under four different headings.

Better situational overview

The Presidency's document invites the European Commission "to map out national legal and policy frameworks and statistics for the phenomenon as appropriate," including information on "banned texts, symbols and associations linked with right-wing violent extremism and terrorism (if categorised as such in Member States)." National authorities will provide information to the Commission on a voluntary basis.

The document also calls for the Working Group on Hate Crime Recording, Data Collection and Encouraging Reporting, which is led by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, "to consider adjusting their working methods in order to record the motivation behind hate crime in crime recording and data collection."

However, ultimately this job is up to the national authorities where, as the European Network Against Racism has highlighted (pdf, link), there are multiple reasons for failing to record the motivation for hate crimes. These include "insufficient resources, definitions of hate crimes, lack of specialised units, racial bias and limited racial/ethnic diversity within the criminal justice system."

Development and sharing of good practices

The document invites member states to share experiences with "exit and disengagement programmes, risk analysis related to radicalised persons, and the prevention of radicalisation in prisons, in line with the Council conclusions in 9366/19 [pdf, link]."

Furthermore:

"The Commission is invited to continue supporting the development and exchange of good practices on how to prevent, detect and address all forms of extremist violence and terrorism, including right-wing violent extremism and terrorism."

Addressing the spread of unlawful right-wing extremist content online and offline

The document requests that the Commission and the member states work with the companies that are part of the EU Internet Forum to "seek possible solutions regarding illegal right-wing violent extremist and terrorist content," and to involve Europol's Internet Referral Unit.

The Internet Referral Unit, meanwhile, should "increase efforts to refer violent extremist and terrorist online content irrespective of its motivation, taking into account the resources available."

The Internet Referral Unit was originally set up to deal with online terrorism and then moved into the business of hunting for “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees" (pdf). The Presidency's proposal represents a further extension of its role, based on nothing more than a policy decision.

The Commission is also due to explain to the Council "the ecosystems of right-wing extremist hate-speech content online" and to "support further work in understanding and analysing the ways in which the violent extreme-right exploits and mainstreams its narratives both online and offline".

Cooperation with third countries

Cooperation with non-EU states is also seen as key, with the document referring to "Western Balkans partners" as well as the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

See: Right-wing violent extremism and terrorism - follow-up (14132/19, LIMITE, 14 November 2019, pdf)

Further reading

Counter-Terrorism Coordinator wants EU to target right-wing extremism and terrorism (Statewatch News, 19 September 2019)

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