Tackling strategic propaganda

The EU needs to do more to counter hostile disinformation, warned ECR MEP Anna Fotyga after her report on the Strategic Communications (StratCom) policy of the EU's External Action Service was adopted today by the Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.

Concerns over Russian disinformation campaigns that attempt to undermine Western democracies, and have continued to grow over recent years, have become a priority for a number of governments. With an annual budget of over €1.1m, the EEAS’s StratCom Task Force was established in 2015 to address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns, and in the past four years they have identified over 3 800 disinformation cases.

Fotyga’s report reviews the progress of the Task Force and underlines the important role of an independent media as the best safeguard against disinformation, while also calling for a robust legal framework in order to better respond to hybrid threats. It also focuses on social media and its potential role both in spreading and countering false information and recommends that the EU should support civil society, private institutions, academia and the wider media in further enhancing measures aimed at exposing propaganda.

Speaking after the vote, Fotyga, who chairs Parliament’s Security and Defence sub-Committee, said:

“We need to be more active in countering hostile disinformation and Member States in the EU are encouraged to evaluate the situation within their territories. Today we are calling for this to be this to be prioritised at the EU level and how to change the approach of our institutions and address the role of Artificial Intelligence and new technologies in advancing this threat.

“There is an urgent need for in-depth analysis and research of the impact and effectiveness of hostile propaganda so that we can develop measures to successfully counteract them. We have always stated that it is essential to uphold freedom of speech and media pluralism, which are at the heart of resilient democratic societies, and we should pursue any approach to counter disinformation responsibly.”

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