Foreign interference and disinformation: the EU must use its powers to protect democracy while preserving our freedoms



220125 INGE Report 2

The Renew Europe Group welcomes the adoption today during the European Parliament’s plenary session of another set of recommendations from the Special Committee on foreign interference in all democratic processes in the European Union, including disinformation, and the strengthening of integrity, transparency and accountability in the European Parliament (ING2).

We reiterate our call on the European Commission to adopt a single overarching policy strategy to effectively tackle foreign interference and sanction agents who attempt to manipulate or damage European democracy. This strategy must build on a paradigm shift towards a risk-based approach. We need to call out the persistent violators - Russia, China, Iran. We also propose to strengthen the EU’s strategic communication capabilities and encourage threat intelligence sharing among Member States.

Renew Europe believes that combating disinformation in traditional media and providing sufficient financial support for fact-based journalism is one of the solutions to counter foreign interference and disinformation. Twitter's recent choice to leave the EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation, proves our case. The EU must take measures to ensure disinformation is countered and it has to hold Elon Musk accountable.

MEP Bart Groothuis (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, the Netherlands), Renew Europe shadow rapporteur on the report, says:

"Europe is the only continent with the political will and power to tackle foreign interference and disinformation. The gradual breakdown of our democracies needs to be countered by continuous and vigilant efforts from all stakeholders. The threat often emanates from a specific group of high-risk states that persistently interfere. This requires a risk-based and country-specific approach."

MEP Nathalie Loiseau (Délégation l’Europe Ensemble, France), Renew Europe coordinator of ING2, says:

"While Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine continues, another hybrid war is being waged by authoritarian regimes against our democracies. Attempts at foreign interference increase, and use increasingly diverse methods. They seek to discredit our democratic and pluralist model, to fracture our societies and to divide us in order to weaken us. Our best response must be citizen-based, local, national and European. It is a matter of exposing the attacks on our democracies and limiting our vulnerabilities while preserving our freedoms."

The European Parliament has already adopted a report by the INGE committee that calls for a ban on donations to political parties and politicians from outside the EU, stricter rules on political advertising, the labelling of deep fakes on social media and a new sanction mechanism against cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns. The tools are there.


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