Key risk drivers
Security threats to Europe come from state and non-state, foreign and domestic individuals and groups. New technologies, cyber space and social media add a new dimension to this landscape, posing new challenges in terms of security.
Conflicts in different regions of the world are a major driver of terrorist activity, which is a serious threat to Europe – not only because it poses a direct danger of attack to the public, infrastructure and sites/artefacts of cultural heritage, but also because it has wider repercussions. Radicalism creates a feeling of insecurity, fuels distrust among different groups in society and towards the government, feeds prejudices and extremist views, and erodes the sense of community.
Alongside conflict in different regions of the world, research into the root causes of radicalisation in Europe identifies the root causes of radicalisation, which requires strengthening resilience, fostering social inclusion, enhancing mutual understanding and tolerance, tackling inequalities, and preventing marginalisation and stigmatisation of groups or communities. It also highlights the importance of the crime-terrorism nexus, and the role prisons play in radicalising individuals.
The risk from terrorism is aggravated by technological development. For example, the barrier for gaining knowledge on the use of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials has lowered. The internet facilitates access to know-how and substances, and some chemical materials have dual-use and are readily available.
Technological development has also fostered increased risk of disinformation, which, alongside growing polarisation in Europe, provides an enabling environment for influencing campaigns on topics such as elections, migration, and vaccinations. The recent COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how adversaries can use crisis situations and related public anxiety as an opportunity to spread false or misleading information online in order to create confusion and undermine an effective response.