The question of how to de-radicalise and integrate disaffected persons is one of the key focuses of our strategy. There is a growing awareness of the need for coordinated Internet monitoring as extremists are using this free space to spread their radical propaganda. The EPP Group calls on the Member States and the Commission to strengthen their cooperation with Internet companies and social networking platforms (Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others) to restrict access to terrorist material online and to remove online terrorist propaganda, whilst ensuring respect for fundamental rights, especially privacy and data protection rights. Internet companies must be made aware of their responsibilities in the propagation of content advocating terrorism. Member States should set up legislative frameworks to firmly and closely monitor hate speech, hate preachers spreading radical propaganda (including on religious sites) and recruiters of EU individuals. This includes improving the process for public reporting of extremist content online, through the setting up of websites or hotline contact points for citizens, and EU funding for positive awareness campaigns against online and offline radicalisation, as well as for no-hate campaigns.
The EPP Group has also repeatedly pointed out the need to identify and make a clear distinction between the ideology of Islamist extremism and the religion of Islam. The EU has a role to play in supporting research and information projects on moderate Islam by intensifying dialogue with Muslim communities to bring together our efforts to counter fundamentalism and terrorism propaganda. The EPP Group will intensify its existing political and structural innovations in promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, including by setting up dedicated EU platforms for that purpose. The EU must also support Member States in developing education programmes that cover the civic and historical aspects of religion. The EU has to urgently intensify specific programmes (social and integration projects) targeting “home-grown terrorists” and existing programmes of de-radicalisation. To this end, the EPP Group calls on Member States to address radicalisation holistically and calls for improved use of the Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), which brings together all those involved in the sector. To support Member-State action on this matter, the Commission must make full use of the new 2014-2020 Internal Security Fund.
Furthermore, the Paris attacks render the setting out of an EU action plan against radicalisation in prisons even more pressing. The EPP Group calls on Member States to consider working towards the general isolation of radical Islamist inmates in prisons and to improve staff training in prison administrations to make detection of inmates who are involved in terrorist-related activities easier. Reducing communication amongst radical Islamist prisoners has proved to be a good tool for preventing them from structuring and organising their attacks. To this end, the EPP Group encourages Member States to maintain an appropriate budget, in particular for training specialised prison staff to work in these isolated quarters. Furthermore, the EPP Group stresses that religious representatives who are in close contact with detainees must also receive specific training.
The EPP Group also expresses its serious concerns about the spread of hate and extremist preaching in prayer rooms that are being abused for radicalisation purposes in various Member States and points out the dramatic effects of this on the rise of fundamentalism in our societies. Member States must take the appropriate measures to firmly and closely monitor this and to address the issue of recruitment and funding of imams from third countries. The EPP Group is willing to support the Member States, politically and institutionally, on any relevant legal measure they may take to deal with financial and ideological influence on their religious communities from abroad. We strongly believe that a robust EU return and expulsion policy of third-country radicals should be applied.
More broadly, the EPP Group has pointed out over the last years the tremendous need for improvement of Member-State integration policies, not only for migrants arriving from third countries, but more specifically for second and third-generation immigrant youths, who are native-born Europeans.
Finally, a comprehensive EU prevention strategy must also make full use of its foreign and development policies to combat poverty, discrimination and marginalisation, to fight corruption, to promote good governance and to prevent and resolve conflicts - all elements that contribute to the marginalisation of certain groups and sectors of society and thus make them more vulnerable to extremist propaganda. The EPP Group considers therefore that part of our cooperation and development aid should be dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Nevertheless, we reject theories that consist of presenting radical Islam as the result of persistent social and economic inequalities and reaffirm that radical Islam goes against the European way of life and values.