The European Union has recently updated its existing set of rules and strategies to face the growing threat of terrorism, including terrorist use of the internet, in the territories of its 28 Member States. Specifically, efforts have been made to build joint capacity for preventing and detecting new forms of terrorism; strengthening checks at external borders; and establishing, together with Europol, a specific body to tackle terrorist propaganda online: the EU Internet Referral Unit. In September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal that addresses issues of terrorist content on the internet, the Proposal for a Regulation on Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content Online.


Proposal for a Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online (2018)

In September 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The proposal “intends to increase the effectiveness of current measures to detect, identify and remove terrorist content online without encroaching on fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and information”. 

Directive 2017/541 on combating terrorism (2017)

Directive (EU) 2017/541 is a key European legal instrument in place dealing with the removal of terrorist content online. Preamble 10 mentions that “the offense of public provocation to commit a terrorist offense act comprises, inter alia, the glorification and justification of terrorism or the dissemination of messages or images online and offline”. 

EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties (2016)

The strategic communication recognizes that: “ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and many other violent jihadi terrorist groups systematically use communication strategies and direct propaganda both offline and online as part of the justification of their actions against the EU and the Member States and against European values, and also with the aim of boosting recruitment of young Europeans”. 

European Parliament resolution on the prevention of radicalization and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organizations (2015)

Article I.4 of the resolution “calls on the Commission to establish as a priority an action plan to implement and evaluate the EU strategy for combating radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism, on the basis of the exchange of best practice and the pooling of skills within the European Union, the evaluation of measures undertaken in the Member States and cooperation with third countries and international organisations…”.

Revised EU Strategy for Combating Radicalization and Recruitment to Terrorism (2014)

The European Union Strategy for Combating Radicalization and Recruitment to Terrorism recognizes that terrorists use the internet for the dissemination of propaganda material, fundraising, recruitment and “communication with like-minded individuals”. The Strategy also describes EU efforts to counter these activities.

The European Union Counter Terrorism Strategy (2005)

The European Union Counter Terrorism Strategy aims “to combat terrorism globally while respecting human rights, and make Europe safer, allowing its citizens to live in an area of freedom, security and justice”. 

Network and Information Security Directive (2016)

The Network and Information Security Directive aims to strengthen the global level of cyberspace security all over the EU. NIS directive is not directly related to terrorism, but includes elements for the protection of critical infrastructure in cyberspace, including information providers.


European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC)

The ECTC shares intelligence and expertise on terrorism financing and facilitates international cooperation among counter terrorism authorities. It also focuses on online terrorist propaganda and extremism (through the EU Internet Referral Unit).

European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA)

ENISA is a centre of expertise for cyber security in Europe which assists EU Member States in preventing, detecting and responding to information security problems. 

European Union Internet Forum 

The European Union Internet Forum aims to counter terrorist content and hate speech online.

European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU)

The EU IRU identifies and probes hateful and violent content on the internet. 


EUROPOL is the law enforcement agency of the European Union. It includes the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT).