Only days after former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi praised the actions of ex-dictator Benito Mussolini, the European Union has warned that violent extremism in on the rise across Europe and it's becoming a serious security threat. 'Not since World War II have extremist and populist forces had so much influence on national parliaments as they have today', said EU commissioner for Home Affairs cecilia Malmstrom. In the context of a long-lasting economic crisis that has caused record-high unemployment and social exclusion in the continent, Europe has seen increasing support for far-right parties. Malmstrom urged European leaders to fight against the rise of racist and populist narratives that pose a threat to the European project. If no strong action is taken, Malmstrom said, extreme political groups could gain wider support in the next European Parliament elections in 2014. 'We need more European leaders to express their opposition to rising extremism. We must have the courage to stand up and protect our common European values. We must have all the courage to stand up for what we have agreed upon and protect our values that are now being challenged in many countries in Europe. The work carried out by the RAN experts and the Conference on Tuesday are important steps in this direction', said EU commissioner for Home Affairs cecilia Malmstrom. Malmstrom warned that the spread of violent extremism around Europe could also influence individual actors to carry out acts of terrorism. In 2011, a Norwegian man linked with a far-right movement killed 77 people. 'Violent extremism represents a big threat to EU citizens' security. The terrorist threat has in part shifted away from organised groups to individuals, who are harder to detect, and whose actions are harder to predict. We all remember Breivik's horrible attack in Norway and the deadly Toulouse shooting are recent examples of the serious menace represented by extremists and lone wolves; and in its most recent report on terrorism, Europol confirms a trend towards lone individuals being responsible for terrorist attacks', said EU commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom. Malstrom's comments come as ministers and anti-terror experts gather in Brussels to discuss how to combat extremism. Some of the proposals include training police to detect signs of radicalisation and providing exit programs for members of extremist groups.
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