This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'EU Internet Forum launch'.



Ref. Ares(2016)1158809 - 07/03/2016
EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
DIRECTORATE-GENERAL MIGRATION AND HOME AFFAIRS 
 
Directorate D: Security  
   
LAUNCH OF EU INTERNET FORUM 
 
SUMMARY OF MEETING 
Commissioner Avramopoulos opened the event, welcoming the internet companies, ministers, the 
CTC and Europol to the launch of the EU Internet Forum. He set out concerns over terrorists' 
increasing use of the internet, particularly in relation to recent attacks. Whilst the internet could not 
be held responsible for radicalising individuals online, it certainly appeared to be intensifying and 
accelerating the radicalisation process.  
A two-pronged approach was required. Firstly to empower civil society partners to challenge the 
extremist narrative online and secondly to reduce the amount of terrorist material online. With 
regards to the latter, all participants were urged to support the EU Internet Referral Unit in reaching 
its full potential. The Commissioner also stressed the importance of enabling the public to report 
material of concern.  
Just as ministers must protect the public, so the industry must protect their users. The Commissioner 
thereby called upon participants to use the Forum to strengthen the relationship. He also wanted 
consideration to be given as to how the Forum could be used to address other areas of online 
concern.  
Commissioner Jourova spoke about the surge in hate speech inciting violence online. The 
Commissioner highlighted the vital role civil society partners play in challenging hate speech and 
urged the internet companies to provide support to civil society in challenging such online hatred. 
The Commissioner explained how the EU Framework Decision on racism and xenophobia had 
introduced an obligation on MSs to criminalise hate speech, including online. The Commissioner 
urged companies to commit to removing hate speech which is hosted on their platforms and called 
for closer alignment with counter terrorism efforts under the EU Internet Forum. 
Europol gave a detailed overview on the scale to which terrorists were using the internet. 
 
 Europol 
explained how it had set up the EU IRU in response to the call from JHA Ministers in March. In its first 
six months of operations, 
 
 
The internet companies welcomed the initiative and many shared Commissioner Avramopoulos' 
concerns over the problem. 
 
 
 
 
 

Member States then intervened. 
 
 
  
 
 thought more could be done to share best practices on 
flagging material of concern. 
The Netherlands attached great importance to this initiative and offered its support as the 
forthcoming Presidency. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finland and Malta both welcomed the initiative and called for greater co-operation. 
The EU CTC urged all participants to prioritise the implementation of the conclusions. He welcomed 
the inclusion of hate speech. He asked MSs to support the EU IRU and highlighted the importance of 
training. He also thought further consideration should be given to the issue of e-evidence. 
Belgium introduced the Syria Strategic Communications Advisory Team who set out the challenges 
faced by civil society partners in addressing terrorist propaganda online. More urgently had to be 
done to equip civil society partners with the necessary resource and training. 
The companies responded, with some offering support and further training. 
In summing up, the Commissioner thanked participants for their contribution and commitment to 
the Forum. The conclusions would form the strategic steer for actions over the coming year and he 
urged all to commit to these as far as they practicably could. He highlighted how this Forum would 
feed into the wider debate relating to the Single Market Strategy. The Commissioner closed, saying 
he looked forward to working with all participants in the course of the following year.