On 21-22 October 2020, RAN hosted its 9th annual RAN Plenary event, the one time in the year when RAN practitioners from all Working Groups come together to reflect on the year that has been and look ahead at the year to come. Due to the continued increasing restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the first time that the Plenary had been held online. Despite this, over 100 practitioners from the RAN network, representing all fields of work and from every corner of Europe, were able to participate, and, through an exchange of insights and views, together set priorities for the Network’s work in 2021.

Reflecting on the current climate precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson addressed the participants in the RAN Plenary and called upon the RAN network of practitioners to offer vulnerable young people a “sense of belonging” and “show them you are part of ‘us’ (European society) and not ‘them’ (terrorist and violent extremist groups)”.

The Commissioner, while citing some inspiring examples, congratulated the work of RAN and its practitioners to date – “you already make a massive difference in the world, and when you get together, here, you make that difference a hundred, a thousand times over” – and called for continued “patience, commitment and determination”.

However, the Commissioner gave a stark reminder of the work we still must do. “The threat of terror remains”. She took a moment to remember Samuel Paty, the teacher murdered by a terrorist in the town of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine.

Looking ahead into 2021, the Commissioner outlined some of the priorities for the work of RAN and its practitioners, including “dealing with returning foreign fighters... helping to rehabilitate terrorist offenders… and developing counter terrorist narratives”.

“Your work remains crucial as ever.”