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 12 September 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

17 September Swedish TV programme “Agenda” interviews Bart Somers on his policies in Mechelen on TV (from about 50 minutes on) and on the website. Flemish TV VTM also covered this appearance on their website.

16 September Interview for the Wiener Zeitung

11 September First meeting of the European Commission’s expert group on radicalisation, where Bart Somers is the European Committee of the Regions high representative. In this group, which wants a more structured and institutionalised exchange on counter-radicalisation, he shares his local experiences and successful policies. The Group is chaired by European Commissioner Julian King and also consists of the European Council counter-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove.

18 June The Journal (Ireland): “Countering radicalisation: ‘Tell people if you work hard, you can have a better future”

15 June Irish Times: Bart Somers: Eight ways to stop the spread of radical Islam in Irish cities

14 June The Guradian: “My Belgian city has shown we are not defenceless against terror”

9 June Sharing best practices across Europe, Bart Somers was in Barcelona yesterday for the seminar “Countering violent Extremism at the local level” of the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs: CIDOB

1 June Bart Somers spoke with Beatriz Becerra MEP of the ALDE Group – Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament to discuss his great work in countering radicalization.

24 May Discussed his report with European Council EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove

5 May Interview with TV network Al Arabiya

18 April Bart Somers shared his successful  policies and experiences in migration with the IOM – the International Organization for Migration – during their International Dialogue on Migration in New York.

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.

Bart SOMERS

Rapporteur

Media corner