Foreign terrorist fighters joining the ranks of Islamic State and other militias in the Middle East are a growing threat to many countries, inside and outside the EU. On this backdrop, the EU Commission is launching a new program to help partner countries to counter radicalization in the Maghreb countries and stem the flow of foreign fighters from North Africa, the Middle East and Western Balkans.
According to The High Representative and Vice-president Federica Mogherini, “Foreign fighters are a threat not only to the region but to the whole world. We need to increase our cooperation and support to partner countries, because terrorism is a common threat and we must fight it together. These programs are a further step implementing the EU commitment to work closer with countries from North Africa, the Middle East and Western Balkans.”
“Countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Western Balkans are particularly concerned by the threat of foreign fighters and the radicalization of their young population. However, such phenomena do not respect borders and the international community therefore needs to support these countries in their efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters and counter radicalization. The EU has allocated €10 million for a new program providing such support,” said Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations.
Under the new program “Countering radicalization and Foreign Terrorist Fighters”, the EU will allocate a first tranche of €5 million to fund technical assistance to enhance the capacities of criminal justice officials to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate cases of foreign fighters or would-be foreign fighters.
The second tranche of 5 million euro will finance countering radicalization programs in the Sahel and Maghreb region. It will offer the possibility to non-state actors to implement activities in the field of media, education, religion, culture. Projects focusing on messaging, internet, social media, disengagement, and awareness-raising with social workers will also be considered as well as measures preventing the radicalization and recruitment of foreign fighters.
Today, the European Commission is also presenting its European Agenda on Security, where one of the priorities is preventing terrorism and countering radicalization. The Agenda will enable a better use of existing and new tools in this area by improving exchange of information and increasing cooperation between EU institutions and agencies, Member States and relevant stakeholders.