Terrorism is a threat to all States and to all peoples. It poses a serious threat to security, to the values of democratic societies and to the rights and freedoms of citizens. Terrorism is criminal and unjustifiable under any circumstances.

In June 2016, the Global Strategy for the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy was presented as a new overarching foreign and security policy framework and reference document for the EU. The document identifies terrorism as one of the key threats facing the EU, and highlights the need to further develop cooperation with the EU’s neighbourhood and other regions on countering terrorism (CT) and violent extremism (VE). The document identifies terrorism as one of the key threats facing the EU, and highlights the need to further develop cooperation with the EU’s neighbourhood and other regions on countering terrorism and VE. The need for enhanced international cooperation on countering terrorism and VE is also emphasised in the European Council Conclusions of 9 February 2015 and June 2017.

The four pillars of the EU’s CT Strategy- Prevent, Protect, Pursue, and Respond – constitute a comprehensive and proportionate response to the international terrorist threat. Under the Prevent pillar, the EU has been developing policy frameworks and implementation measures both inside the EU and in key strategic locations worldwide.

The EU has taken steps to prevent and counter violent extremism (P/CVE) by supporting relevant countries in preventing and countering radicalisation and terrorist recruitment. This is driven by the recognition by policymakers and practitioners that counter-terrorism measures from the Pursue and Respond streams cannot by themselves address the complex nature of VE.

 Nor do these approaches do much to address the enabling environment for VE – conditions, grievances and ideologies that contribute to the violent radicalisation, mobilisation and recruitment of individuals or groups. There is therefore an increasing focus by the international community, including the EU, on preventive approaches to violence and conflict, including a more concerted effort to address violent extremist ideologies and actions that create a hospitable environment for terrorist groups.

The EU projects have an overall global remit, with specific geographic focus areas which include Balkans, Middle East, North Africa, West Africa/Sahel, Horn of Africa, Central/South/South East Asia and the Caribbean.

EU Support to CT and P/CVE in Partner Countries

Since 2005, the EU has stressed that actions to combat terrorism effectively must be organised around four pillars: prevention, protection, pursuit and response, in line with the European Union Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalisation and Recruitment to Terrorism. Over the last decade, the European Commission has invested heavily in combating terrorism and violent extremism in partner countries. As of the end of 2019, there are approximately 465-million-euro worth of CT or P/CVE-specific projects (ongoing) with a geographical scope external to the EU, which represents an increase of approximately 61 million euros (or 15%) from similar figures in the previous year  – and more than a tripling of engagement over a four year period. Article 5 of the IcSP represents 21% of the overall EU investment in this area.

Building capacity for integrated approaches to CT and CVE


The EU approach to CT and P/CVE capacity building is to promote criminal justice and law enforcement capabilities while respecting human rights and the rule of law, as well as to support key preventive measures for violent extremism and to counter terrorist financing. The different strands of the IcSP work follow this logic and focus on:

– Building capacity of law enforcement and judiciary agencies
– Preventing and countering violent extremism
– Countering the financing of terrorism

Themes & Areas of Work


Terrorism is not a new phenomenon in Europe. It poses a threat to our security, to the values of our democratic societies and to the rights and freedoms of European citizens. Between 2009-2013 there were 1010 failed, foiled or completed attacks carried out in EU member states, in which 38 people died. In addition, several European citizens have been kidnapped or killed by terrorist groups around the world. The phenomenon of fighters from Europe travelling to different locations to fight the jihad, and the security threat they may pose inside the EU when they return, are also likely to persist in the coming years.

Since these threats do not recognise borders, they must be confronted at both a national and international level.

The European Union member states are committed to jointly fighting terrorism and providing for the best possible protection for its citizens. To this end, in 2005 the Council adopted the EU counter-terrorism strategy. The strategy is focused on four main pillars: prevent, protect, pursue and respond. Across these pillars, the strategy recognises the importance of cooperation with third countries and international institutions.

The EU is working to hinder terrorists’ capacity to plan and organise, and to bring these terrorists to justice. To achieve these goals, the EU has focused on strengthening national and international law enforcement and justice capabilities, improving practical cooperation and information exchange between police and judicial authorities, tackling terrorist financing and depriving terrorists of the means by which they mount attacks and communicate.


South East Asia



Horn of Africa

A second new project currently in the formulation stage is a 5 M€ project on deradicalisation in prisons, to be rolled out regionally in South East Asia and in MENA from 2016.

In Pakistan, the IcSP works to improve the ability of Punjabi agencies to successfully investigate, prosecute, convict and detain terrorists, through a project of 1.8 M€, supporting the forensic capacity.

In the Sahel region, initially covering Mali, Mauritania and Niger, a 8.7 M€ project, CT SAHEL, aims to strengthen the capacities of law enforcement (police, gendarmerie and garde nationale) and judiciary to fight terrorism and organised crime. The purpose of this project is to support the progressive development of regional and international cooperation against these threats.

A new project on law enforcement in the Horn of Africa and Yemen (11 M€) is in the process of being developed for implementation from early 2015.


Violent extremist ideologies are gaining an unprecedented level of traction across the globe, taking root in local communities and controlling territory in a number of fragile states, as well as attracting an increasing number of disenfranchised citizens in other states. Their messages that incite hate, perpetuate violence and invoke terror should have no place in a modern and civilised world.

It is important to emphasise that violent extremism is a global problem, which manifests itself in all cultures and all religions but with different specific characteristics. Radicalisers work by pointing to social, political and economic injustice around their followers. They promote a belief that these injustices result from a corrupt system of politics or ideology. To be persuasive, many of these arguments are based on facts and truths but are selective and incomplete in the way they employ reality. More importantly, the means by which they seek to redress this injustice is through violence, greater oppression and victimisation.

Thus, the challenge for policy-makers has arguably never been greater, as the international community needs to bring all of its tools to the table both to resolve on-going crises and prevent their re-occurrence. The European Union is the world’s single largest development actor, with a comprehensive global reach and a range of instruments that engage on continental, regional and national levels. Our approaches span the gamut from long-term preventive engagements on trade, infrastructure and social service delivery, to short-term stabilisation instruments that can deliver targeted humanitarian relief and recovery measures.

Addressing both the manifestations of violent extremism and its root causes is a quintessentially development challenge. It will require strengthening the fundamental building blocks of equitable development, human rights, governance and the rule of law. A diverse range of stakeholders need to be brought to the table and empowered, including not only state actors and security institutions, but also key members of local communities and civil society who can speak courageously and compellingly about truth, tolerance and acceptance. Thus, while a strong response to violent extremism is required, it must embrace, not further restrict civil liberties, and address insecurity, inequality and marginalisation.   The EU is committed to working with partners across the globe to achieve this in the interests of all citizens.

To improve the capabilities of EU staff of developing CVE specific interventions using existing and future development efforts a series of thematic trainings on CVE are being conducted in partner countries.


South East Asia



Horn of Africa

A second new project currently in the formulation stage is a 5 M€ project on deradicalisation in prisons, to be rolled out regionally in South East Asia and in MENA from 2016.

In Pakistan a 5 M€ project on countering violent extremism and radicalisation commenced in the second half of 2014. The specific objective of this project is to reinforce Government, media and civil society capacities in Pakistan to counter violent radicalization at provincial and federal levels.

A project to strengthening the knowledge base for evidence-lead action for CVE in the Sahel, was initiated in 2015. This 1.7 M€ project that will establish a regional network of research and expertise, and to establish and implement a methodology of “action research” combining academic research and practitioners.

Two IcSP supported projects, in the Horn of Africa (including Yemen) and Pakistan, are implemented. This follows a large conference in November 2012 organised to identify possible Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) actions.

A 2 M€ project aims to develop best practices for countering violent extremism and radicalisation in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. Concretely, the aim is to constitute a knowledge base on past and present practices with recommendations for evidence based policymaking and action planning. This was commenced in early 2014.


The EU approach to Counter Terrorism capacity building is to promote criminal justice/rule of law and law enforcement while respecting human rights as well as to support prevention measures such as counter-radicalisation and terrorist financing. The different strands of the IcSP Counter Terrorism work follow this logic and focus on capacity building of law enforcement and judiciary agencies, countering violent extremism and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).

AML/ CFT Global initiative (Planned, AAP 2016)

The EU has decided to step up its engagement in the AML/CFT area in our cooperation strategy, by supporting AML/CFT efforts. Notably, we are currently identifying a programme on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism for 16 million EUR as part of the Programme for 2016. The Identification and Formulation will be carried out a team of yet to be defined MS experts and will include close consultations, in particular with EEAS, DG HOME and the CTC.

CFT and AML related challenges are often cross-border in nature. Reports state there is still an obvious need for a number of actions to address on-going capacity gaps in the field of general legal and law enforcement capacities which would broadly benefit and complement specialised AML/CFT efforts. Activities under this programme could include, but are absolutely not limited to:

Capacity Building of criminal justice actors (Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), law enforcement, prosecutors and judges), training of law enforcement officers and prosecutors in asset tracing, seizure and confiscation;

Assistance with amending AML/CFT legislation to bring it into line with international instruments, with accompanying safeguards for human rights and civil liberties;

Updating legislation linked to inter-state cooperation (e.g. extradition and mutual legal assistance laws, as well as appropriate legal framework for joint investigations amongst states);

Enhancing capacities for cross-border investigations.

CFT in the Horn of Africa and Yemen (On-going, AAP 2013)

IcSP is funding a programme in the Horn of Africa (6 million EUR) to raise awareness and strengthen the capacities of the financial sector and criminal justice actors, for effective AML/CFT nationally and regionally.

The programme covers Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen. It is implemented by CIVI.POL Conseil (France) – leading partner in collaboration with the French Ministry of Interior the Directorate for International Cooperation AFETI (France) and ICCT (Netherlands). Activities include:

Capacity building for improved AML/CFT understanding and capacity among financial sector stakeholders nationally and regionally. Focus on enhancing the technical awareness and expertise of parties and institutions vulnerable to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Capacity building for Increased AML/CFT strategic direction, capacity and cooperation among criminal justice actors nationally and regionally.

Institutional development of Financial Intelligence Units’ capabilities and capacities.

Promote incentives and develop viable alternatives to cash-based financial institutions. The programme will support the conduct of a study of alternative cash-based financial institutions ideally in cooperation with a regional organization.

Key Partners: