Thursday

19th Sep 2019

MEPs call for 'proper' EU counter-propaganda unit

  • "A large part of Kremlin propaganda is aimed at describing some European countries as belonging to Russia's traditional sphere of influence" (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Parliament has urged the EU to expand its counter-propaganda unit in reaction to Russian and jihadist disinformation campaigns.

It issued the call in a report by Polish conservative MEP and former foreign minister Anna Fotyga, which was endorsed by the foreign affairs committee on Monday (10 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Fotyga’s report called “for the EU Strategic Communication Task Force to be reinforced by turning it into a fully-fledged unit within the EEAS [EU foreign service], responsible for the eastern and for the southern neighbourhoods, with proper staffing and adequate budgetary resources”.

The task force was created last summer for an initial period of two years.

It contains a handful of EU officials and seconded diplomats, does not have its own budget, and is constrained to working in EU states and in six former Soviet countries only.

It produces regular “mythbusting” updates on Russian propaganda which have attracted a growing audience on social media.

Among other proposals, Fotyga's report, which is non-binding, says the EU should “conduct a thorough audit of the efficiency of certain big scale media projects” that it funds “such as Euronews”.

The mention of the French-based broadcaster comes amid concern in EU diplomatic circles that its Russian-language service has become another Kremlin propaganda outlet.

Fotyga’s report said there was a “rapid expansion of Kremlin-inspired activities in Europe” that were “seeking to maintain or increase Russia's influence [and] to weaken and split the EU”.

It said that Russia devoted “huge resources” to “propaganda activities”, such as multilingual TV stations and “pseudo news agencies”, but also to funding pro-Russian think tanks and expat groups in Europe, and to funding anti-EU political parties.

At the same time, the Russian state is trying to stifle access to information at home, the report said.

“Since 1999, dozens of journalists have been killed, disappeared without trace or have been imprisoned in Russia”, it noted.

Fotyga’s report said that other regimes, such as Iran, Arab dictatorships, and Turkey, are “using strategies similar to those developed by the Kremlin”.

It also said that jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) “are engaged in active information campaigns with the aim to undermine and increase the level of hatred against European values and interests”.

It said the stratcomm task force should do the same kind of mythbusting, or “deconstruction”, on jihadist content as it does on Russian disinformation.

It urged EU states and institutions to generate a “counter-narrative” to IS “demonstrating how the promotion of radical Islam is theologically corrupt”.

It said “muslim scholars” with “credibility” should be involved in the project.

EU myth-busters set for budget upgrade

One year after its launch, East Stratcom, the EU’s “tiny” counter-propaganda cell, has created a 20,000-strong following and could get a €1 million budget.

Opinion

No joke: Russian propaganda poses EU threat

With the French and German elections at risk of Kremlin interference, it's time for the EU to start treating Russian propaganda as a serious threat.

News in Brief

  1. EU adds €100m to research and Erasmus budgets
  2. Ambassador: UK Poles should 'seriously considering' leaving
  3. Trump's UK ambassador stirs up anti-EU feeling
  4. Brexit chaos is lesson to other EU states, ECB governor says
  5. EU condemns Israel's latest land grab
  6. Scotland to keep some laws aligned with EU after Brexit
  7. Spain to hold fresh election in November
  8. Turkey ups pressure on visa-free entry into EU

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. A new Commission for the one percent
  2. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'
  3. Germany adopts blockchain strategy and says no to Libra
  4. Revanchist Russia continues to rewrite European history
  5. How EU trains discriminate against the disabled
  6. These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission
  7. Defending the 'European way of life' name splits MEPs
  8. Hungary claims EU 'witch-hunt' over rule of law hearing

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us