The Brussels terror attacks – Lessons learned and challenges ahead for Europe


On 14 April 2016, the European Foundation for Democracy and the European Policy Centre, in collaboration with the Counter Extremism Project, hosted a policy dialogue to discuss the rise of the radicalisation phenomenon in Europe and the manifold consequences for European security and integration policies. The guest speakers were Alain Destexhe, Senator at Brussels Regional Parliament, Alain Winants, Former Chief of Belgium Security Service, Pieter van Ostaeyen, Independent Analyst on Jihadi Movements, Jorge M. Bento Silva, Deputy Head of Unit Crisis Management and Fight Against Terrorism at DG Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission, as well as Andrea Frontini, Policy Analyst at the European Policy Centre, who moderated the briefing.

After the Paris attacks last November, on 22 March Europe was shaken again by a terror attack perpetrated by violent extremists in its emblematic and institutional heart, Brussels. This attack has, once again, exposed the urgent need to re-examine current structures, processes and policies to address jihadist radicalisation in Belgium and Europe, and to better anticipate future challenges and policy responses.

What are the main drivers and catalysts of the jihadist threat, both in Belgium and beyond? How can radicalisation of vulnerable individuals be prevented? How can policy makers and police forces better act and cooperate to prevent this phenomenon and help dismantle terror activities within Europe? What lessons can be learned from past failures, and what are the main challenges? Which reforms can be put in place at national and European level so as to provide a more secure system of prevention and stronger citizen security more broadly? A panel of experts addressed these questions as part of a series of Policy Dialogues in the framework of a joint EFD-EPC-CEP project on jihadist radicalisation and European policy responses.