Combatting Radicalisation and Violent Extremism: Prevention mechanisms at local and regional level

This article was published under the 2015-2020 European Committee of the Regions mandate.

Summary

CIVEX-VI/010

Last updated 1 March, 2017

Adopted 15/06/2016

Objective

The rapporteur and President of the ALDE Group in the Committee of the Regions (ALDE-CoR) Bart Somers recently presented his report on how to combat radicalisation and prevent violent extremism. As Mayor of Mechelen in Belgium, a very diverse city of 124 nationalities, he has firsthand experience on policies that can help local authorities preventing the process of radicalisation

The objective of the report is to help shape the EU’s actions on the prevention of radicalisation and terrorism, as defined by the special agreement of the European Council. This opinion will demonstrate how local and regional authorities have the power to deliver some of the EU’s key objectives in the prevention of violent radicalisation and will outline what instruments are required to combat this phenomenon.

Impact

28 February Belgian mayor: ‘Discrimination and racism is anti-western’ – EurActiv.sk

25 February Bart Somers has been featured in ZDF

14 February Awarded 2016 World Mayor Prize – Bart Somers received the Prize as recognition for his outstanding achievements in welcoming refugees during recent years and for the long-term integration of immigrants from different cultures, religions and social backgrounds.

9 February Bart Somers took part in televised discussion on Terzake / VRT (Flemish public Television).

7 February 2017 Bart Somers explains his successful policies on social inclusion from a local perspective at a European Commission Education & Culture expert group, with experts from member states and organisations such as the OECD.

30 January Grenz Echo (BE) the article starts out with the World Mayor Prize as introduction to cover Bart Somers’ track record in Mechelen.

23 January German radio DLF coverage of Bart Somers’ successful approach as Mayor against radicalisation & exclusion.

22 January Belgian paper De Zondag: Bart Somers puts Mechelen on the international map.

3 January l’Espresso, an Italian news magazine identified Mechelen as a miracle of integration.

31 December Huffington Post Deutschland (Germany) reports about his positive narrative to let 128 different nationalities live together in his town, of which 20% are Muslim, and why having such a diverse population is a good thing.

25 December Die Zeit reports on Mechelen as a place of tolerance and multiculturalism.

3 December New York Times focuses positively on Mayor Somer’s policies of inclusiveness.

15 November Mayor Somers spoke at a forum about terrorism in Madrid at the Real Instituto Elcano.

7 October the EU Security Union Commissioner Julian King visited the Belgian city of Mechelen as part of the Commission’s commitment to step up its work in tackling radicalisation. He met Mechelen Mayor Bart Somers to discuss what has become known as the “Mechelen approach” in fighting radicalisation. Commissioner King met a wide range of local experts, including the Council’s Radicalisation Officer and the Head of the Mechelen Police. Mr. Somers and Commissioner King spoke with victims of terrorism and families directly affected by terrorism and exchanged views with frontline workers – such as youth and social workers, as well as activists involved in a variety of grassroots initiatives including sports and art projects.

29 September Mr Bart Somers, Mayor of the Belgian Municipality of Mechelen and CoR-rapporteur, met EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, to discuss cooperation in combating radicalisation and increasing joint efforts for more inclusive societies.

22 August during Conference of The Slovak Presidency – Totalitarian Regimes – Mr. Bart Somers made specific suggestions to the Slovak Presidency on how to prevent radicalisation.

25 February the fact finding mission to Mechelen took place on 25th February, on the invitation of Mr. Bart Somers (mayor of Mechelen and rapporteur of the CoR opinion on Combatting Radicalisation). The experience and preventive approach of local authorities in fighting radicalisation was presented by speakers from Mechelen, Vilvoorde and Antwerp. The second part of the mission included a testimonial of a mother who lost her son in fights in Syria and two field workers of Mechelen and Vilvoorde.

10 February 2016, ALDE Group meeting
Belgium - Brussels - February 2016
© European Union / Wim Daneels

Bart SOMERS

Rapporteur

Media corner