EU Policy on Counterterrorism: Evidences and Alternatives to Penal Populism

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The ongoing rise of populism across the European Union (EU) has relaunched a lively debate on its implications for democracy and the rule of law. Conversely, there has been little discussion about penal populism; namely, a legislative strategy meant to restore the weakened authority of the State and capable of affecting crime perception and principles of criminalisation. Yet, to what extent does penal populism affect the EU policy-making process? To answer this question, we see penal populism in the context of the EU policy on counterterrorism. Our ultimate objective is to prove whether such EU policy shows evidences of penal populism, to later understand how to balance and moderate them. Against this background, Section 1 names penal populism. Section 2 provides an overview of the EU counterterrorism policy. Sections 3 and 4 examine the intersection between the securitisation and prevention approaches to counterterrorism and penal populism. Ultimately, conclusions are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-47
Number of pages18
JournalThe Interdisciplinary Journal of Populism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021


  • Penal populism
  • counterterrorism
  • EXIT Europe
  • violent extremism


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