Politics and society have a shared responsibility for combating youth radicalisation

Despite a number of high-quality initiatives, not enough is being done to prevent young people from succumbing to the lure of violent extremism, the EESC says

In the fight against youth radicalisation, Member States and the EU need to involve civil society organisations more effectively as partners who can make a key contribution to social and values-based resilience against extremist ideas, the EESC said at its December plenary.

Instead of focusing on short-term, punitive security policies driven by "crisis" events, EU policies should invest more in prompt but also long-term and coordinated prevention efforts, the EESC stated in its opinion on Cooperation with civil society to prevent the radicalisation of young people,.

Rapporteur Christian Moos (Various Interests, DE) stressed that young people are especially vulnerable to extremist propaganda, as they do not have a strong sense of identity and often feel excluded by society.

Prevention requires a multi-agency approach involving policy-makers, police and prisons, social workers, schools, the media, businesses and civil society organisations, according to the EESC.

Mr Moos praised the European Commission's work in this area. Its Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), gathers frontline and grassroots practitioners and promotes the exchange of best practice and on-the-ground experience, while its High Level Expert Group on Radicalisation is to advise on the further development of EU policies and more structured cooperation between stakeholders and between Member States.

Nevertheless, the EESC says these initiatives are not enough.

The EESC places special emphasis on formal and non-formal education for active participation in a diverse society and for teaching critical thinking and media literacy.

Fighting xenophobic and populist tendencies through more intercultural awareness and also through a firm understanding of EU values is likewise seen as helpful.

Youth organisations were singled out as providing valuable alternative opportunities for developing a healthy sense of personal identity. The EESC also stressed the role of trade unions and religious communities, as well as that of support services and networks that can help schools and families detect the first signs of radicalisation.

Combating youth unemployment and poverty should also be high on the agenda, recommended the EESC. (ll)