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20th Jan 2019

Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker

  • EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, arriving at the pre-summit meeting of the European People's Party (Photo: European People's Party)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday (14 December) that "some of the prime ministers" present at the EU summit, including Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, are partly responsible for spreading fake news.

"When Mr Orban for example is saying that I am responsible, guilty for the Brexit: fake news," said Juncker at the press conference wrapping up the two-day EU summit.

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  • Hungarian PM Orban (l) meeting with Austrian chancellor Kurz, whose country holds the temporary EU presidency seat (Photo: European People's Party)

"When he is saying that migrants are responsible for the Brexit: fake news," he added.

His comments were made after the EU countries' heads of state and government adopted a text which declared that "an urgent response" was needed towards fake news, or disinformation.

"The spread of deliberate, large-scale, and systematic disinformation, including as part of hybrid warfare, is an acute and strategic challenge for our democratic systems," EU leaders said.

They called for "swift and decisive action at both European and national level on securing free and fair European and national elections".

They also asked for a "prompt and coordinated implementation" of an action plan on disinformation which the commission presented earlier this month.

That plan pointed to Russia as one of the main distributors of fake news.

But Juncker stressed on Friday that EU leaders should also look at themselves.

"We proposed weeks ago some instruments, but the fake news are not only to be found in the camp of the fake newsers," said Juncker.

"I made it very clear to the European Council that some of the prime ministers sitting around there, they are at the origin of fake news," he added, referring to the formal name of the combined EU leaders.

"So let's not put all responsibility on others, let's check in our round who is the news faker," he added.

Although Juncker and Orban are a member of the same political family, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), the two have a complicated relationship.

He famously called Orban 'dictator' when jovially greeting EU leaders at a previous gathering in Latvia in 2015.

In an October interview in Le Monde, Juncker said Orban no longer had a place in the EPP, because of diverging views on rule of law.

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