CONNEKT will examine what drives youth towards violent extremism to improve prevention

11 February 2020 | Press release

Today in Barcelona a research project funded by the EU begins to study the factors that can influence the radicalisation of youth from 8 countries in the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

CONNEKT (Contexts of Violent Extremism in the MENA and Balkan Societies) is a European research project, led by the IEMed that will investigate what can drive youths aged between 12 and 30 from 8 countries – Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Bulgaria – into setting out on a process of radicalisation towards violent extremism.

Representatives from the 14 organisations that make up the consortium that will develop the project for the next three and a half years (until August 2023) have met today in Barcelona to participate in its public presentation and mark the start of the research work.

As explained today, CONNEKT will focus on the relevance of socioeconomic and socio-political inequalities in radicalisation processes. Seven factors will be analysed: religion, digitalisation, economic deprivation, territorial inequalities, transnational dynamics, socio-political demands, and educational, cultural and leisure opportunities. And these factors will be evaluated on three levels: transnational/state, community and individual. The idea is to determine their interrelationships and specific significance in the process that can lead to radicalisation.

The ultimate goal is, based on empirical research findings, to recommend tools and measures for the prevention of violent extremism. In this respect, the project moves away from the approach to prevention that is often taken in the field of security and that blurs the boundaries between detection (understood as identification of a possible impending threat) and prevention. Through research, CONNEKT aims to help recommend prevention strategies from the social field based on the voices of young people ‒ and, in particular, aimed at local authorities and social actors ‒ that enable tools to be provided to societies of the countries under study and the European Union to tackle a phenomenon as multidimensional as violent extremism.

The project is carried out by an interdisciplinary team comprising 14 partners from 12 countries, including universities and think tanks but also civil society actors and local authorities.

The research will be articulated through interviews, surveys, focus groups, seminars and round tables in each of the study countries and at the transnational level, as well as participatory work within the framework of the Skopje Youth Forum and the Tarragona Women’s Forum. More than 60 publications will be produced, including country reports on approaches to violent extremism and on potential factors of radicalisation according to the three levels of analysis, which will provide a mapping of the factors leading to violent extremism and will result in policy papers to translate the conclusions to the political and institutional spheres. Awareness of radicalisation factors applied to the community field will be the second phase of research that will produce studies on prevention and toolkits tailored to each country to prevent violent extremism. Finally, the results will be used to formulate recommendations in a final document on prevention strategies for the European Union.

The results and evolution of the project will be followed from July 2020 at the website:

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement 870772 with funding of €2.9 million.

Project team

CONNEKT is coordinated by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), a think tank based in Barcelona specialised in Euro-Mediterranean relations, with 30 years experience. The scientific coordinators of the project are Lurdes Vidal (Director of the Arab and Mediterranean World Department at the IEMed) and Jordi Moreras (anthropologist with extensive experience in studying Muslim communities in Spain and Senior Fellow at the IEMed).

The IEMed heads a consortium consisting of another 13 organisations:

The American University Cairo

Generations For Peace

Jasmine Foundation

The University Moulay Ismail

The University of Sarajevo

Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development

The Macedonian Academy of Sciences

Islamic Youth Forum

The Center for the Study of Democracy

Université Libre de Bruxelles

The University of Graz

The Universitat Rovira i Virgili

Euromed Cities Network