The European Union has launched a new law enforcement center to coordinate the fight against violent extremism, saying Europe faces the most significant terrorist threat in over 10 years.

The European Counter Terrorism Center was officially opened Monday as a part of Europol, the EU's agency for law enforcement cooperation.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the unit in The Hague, Netherlands will be staffed by 40-50 experts in counterterrorism and deal in intelligence-sharing, tracking foreign fighters and sources of illegal financing and firearms, and assisting EU countries in counterterrorism investigations.

Wainwright said over 5,000 EU nationals have been radicalized by fighting with Muslim extremists in Iraq and Syria, and that many have returned home.

"The current threat demands a strong and ambitious response from the EU," said Europol's chief.