As outlined in the Global Strategy for the European Union's Foreign and Security Policy (2016), the EU believes that there cannot be sustainable development without peace and security, and, vice versa, that without development and poverty eradication there will be no lasting peace. It is for this reason that the EU is committed to promoting development approaches alongside dedicated efforts to counter violent extremism (CVE) around the world. This nexus between development and security is also recognised and reflected in the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on "Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions".

In the last 15 years, there has been a gradual expansion of EU development and other cooperation policies into security-related areas such as CVE. This is likely to grow still further. Recent Operational Guidelines on the Preparation and Implementation of EU-financed Actions Specific to Countering-Terrorism and Violent Extremism in Third Countries will ensure that EU's development and security cooperation in these sensitive areas is cognisant of the risks of such an intervention, and can design appropriately targeted programmes that meet the objectives whilst mitigating risks in alignment with the EU's fundamental principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

CVE can be understood to constitute all actions that strengthen the resilience of individuals and communities to the appeal of radicalisers and violent extremism, from interfaith dialogues to vocational training, mentorship programmes, training of state governance and security actors and community debates on sensitive topics.

The specific objectives are: "key state (governance and security), media and non-state actors at national and community levels prevent and address violent extremism", and "individuals identified as at risk demonstrate more desirable attitudes and behaviours". The overall objective of development cooperation in this field is "to reduce the incidents of VE and support for such acts".

The Key EU Principles on CVE

The EU programming in the area of CVE should follow a number of key principles in order to coherently design and implement high quality interventions:

  • It must be evidence-based;
  • The local context must be taken into account and programming tailored accordingly;
  • A multidisciplinary and "Whole of Society" approach must be adopted, involving a range of actors beyond traditional law enforcement and military services, including health, education, good-governance and human-rights agencies , and civil society;
  • A conflict-sensitive, "Do No Harm and Do Maximum Good" approach must be followed, aiming to ensure that project interventions do not cause human rights violations, exacerbate divisions between institutions and communities, and worsen existing grievances.


Policy and Strategic Documents

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