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Combating Terrorism in Europe: Strengthening the Tools and Ensuring a Coordinated Response

Foreign policy, Security and Defence
Date: Thursday, 17 May 2018 10:00 - 16:30

Venue: Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre  |  City: Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium

Key Speakers

Cristian Pirvulescu, President of the Permanent Study Group on Immigration and Integration, EESC

Alexander Ritzmann, Co-chair of the RAN Communication and Narratives Working Group

Nils Duquet, Researcher and Scientific Coordinator of Project SAFTE, Flemish Peace Istitute

Sébastien Boussois, Research Associate, CECID (Université Libre de Bruxelles) and OMAN (UQAM Montréal)

Simon Therer, Representative of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency (ERYICA) and Project Manager at CIDJ asbl

Christian Kaunert, Professor of Policing and Security, Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales

Dr Sarah Leonard, Assistant Professor in International Affairs, Vesalius College, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

In recent years, several countries of the European Union have faced violent terrorist attacks, carried out by organised cells as well as by individuals operating alone, inspired by the beliefs of violent extremist organisations. According to the 2017 EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (Te-Sat) by Europol, in 2016 eight Member States reported a total of 142 failed, foiled and completed attacks. As a consequence of the completed attacks, and in most cases at the hand of jihadist terrorists, 142 victims died and 379 people were injured. The threat of terrorism has not touched all Member States equally, yet every country may be subject to the risks deriving, for instance, from being an unintentional transit point or a safe haven for terrorists.

Member States are primarily responsible for taking action against terrorism. Nevertheless, in consideration of the increasing cross-border dimension of the phenomenon, the EU plays a fundamental supporting role. Already in 2005, the Council adopted a EU Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism.  In view of the changing nature of the threat and the increasing understanding of the issue, the Strategy was revised in 2014 and complemented with a set of guidelines, last updated in 2017. In this context, on 7 March 2017 the Council adopted a new directive on combating terrorism, addressing, among others, the issue of foreign fighters.

Online communication, especially through social media, constitutes a powerful tool for terrorist organisations to gain global visibility and reach new audiences, recruit, and obtain financial support. The rapid identification and removal of online terror content can help curb this virtual contagion. On many occasions, the perpetrators of terrorist attacks were nationals of the countries they attacked, or people who have migrated and resided in those countries for a long time. Moreover, almost one third of arrestees for terrorist offences in 2016 were 25 years old or younger (Te-Sat, 2017). Building resilient communities and stronger social ties may also play an important role in reducing the risk of radicalisation, especially of young people, helping neutralise the appeal of terrorist propaganda.

This timely symposium will provide police officials, security professionals, local authorities and other key stakeholders with an invaluable opportunity to discuss the latest advancements and challenges in the fight against terrorism across Europe. Delegates will also explore how digital tools and the engagement of local communities can be effectively employed in counteracting violent ideologies.

Delegates will:

  • Analyse the EU framework for fighting terrorism
  • Consider options for enhancing information sharing on terrorism
  • Look into measures to decrease the exposure to terrorist attacks
  • Debate about successful strategies to counter online terrorist propaganda
  • Explore solutions to counter factors conducive to radicalisation and recruitment
  • Building an effective counter-narrative to violent ideologies
  • Assess the benefits of community engagement 


09:15 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:00 Chair's Welcome and Opening Remarks

Assessing the European Framework to Prevent and Combat Terrorism

  • Analysing the EU Comprehensive Response to Foreign Fighters and the New Directive on Combating Terrorism
  • Considering the Implementation of the EU Counterterrorism Strategy in Light of the European Security Agenda
  • Discussing Prospects for an Enhanced Cooperation at EU level
10:40 First Round of Discussions
11.10 Morning Coffee Break

Tackling the Terrorist Use of Internet

  • Gaining Insights into the Dynamics of Online Terrorist Propaganda
  • Curbing the Dissemination of Terrorist Digital Content
  • Building a Counter-Narrative: Campaigning Online to Tackle Violent Extremism
12:00 Second Round of Discussions
12.30 Networking Lunch

Evaluating Solutions to Reduce Vulnerability to Attacks

  • Developing Policy Actions to Counter Firearms Acquisition by Terrorists in the EU
  • Improving the Exchange of Information and the Interoperability of Information Systems
  • Advancing Cooperation with Third States and International Organisation
14.00 Third Round of Discussions
14:30 Afternoon Coffee Break

Considering the Role of Local Communities in Preventing and Fighting Extremisms

  • Empowering Communities to Resist and Withstand the Internal Root Causes of Extremism
  • Addressing the Risk of Radicalisation while in Prison
  • Building Resilience and Raising Awareness: Reaching Out to Vulnerable Groups
15.20 Fourth Round of Discussions
15:50 Chair's Summary and Closing Remarks
16.00 Networking Reception and Refreshments
16.30 Symposium Close

** Please note that the programme and speakers are subject to change without notice **

Who Should Attend?

  • Academics
  • Police Forces
  • Counter-terrorism Intelligence Analysts
  • Intelligence Officials
  • Local Authorities
  • Community Leaders
  • Community Liaison Officers
  • Prevention Teams
  • Education Authorities
  • Schools, Colleges and Universities
  • Faith Organisations
  • Equal Opportunities Officers
  • Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Practitioners
  • Community Engagement Officers
  • Community Relations Advisers
  • Social Workers
  • Social Inclusion Officers
  • Prisons Officers
  • Health Service Professionals
  • Youth Engagement Teams
  • Crime and Disorder Reduction Teams
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams
  • Hate Crime Units
  • Student Welfare Advisers
  • Central Government Departments and Bodies
  • Third Sector Practitioners
  • Trade Union Representatives


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Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium




All Dates

  • Thursday, 17 May 2018 10:00 - 16:30

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