MEPs have today backed ECR MEP Anna Fotyga‘s report into EU efforts to tackle strategic propaganda against the EU and its Member States by third parties, such as Russia.

The report reviews the response of the EU and its Member States to the first Strategic Communications (Stratcom) report adopted by the European Parliament in 2016 and provides further recommendations on how best to tackle strategic propaganda from third countries.

A number of Member States still haven’t recognised the impact and magnitude of disinformation campaigns and the report therefore calls on these countries to take proactive measures to counter the threat and to establish permanent structures to this effect. The report also underlines the crucial role of an independent media and quality journalism as the best safeguards against disinformation campaigns, as well as stressing that a legal framework allowing for a robust EU response to these hybrid threats should be put in place.

Fotyga has welcomed the report and the work carried out to date by the East StratCom Task Force, and has reiterated her call to turn it into a fully – fledged unit within thee EEAS.

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

“We can no longer deny the fact that our institutions and societies are targeted by the Kremlin’s hostile propaganda, which is part of a broader strategy. Fortunately, we are more experienced, determined and united to counter such activities. Our answer depends on resilient societies, transparent media and encouraging pluralism, while taking steps to ensure that we avoid censorship.”

There is also a focus in the report on social media and its potential role both in spreading and countering false information, and on the best ways to safeguard users against these malicious stories. Support should also be provided for civil society, private institutions, academia and media organisation in further enhancing measures aimed at fact checking and exposing propaganda. Beyond this, the report recognises that efforts should also not be solely concentrated on EU countries. A number of accession countries and partners in the EU neighbourhood are also vulnerable to such hostilities and it is essential that the EU and its Member States cooperate.

“In 2019 there will be of over 29 elections in EU Member States, including the European elections in May. Experience tells us there will be further interference by the Russian Federation across the  EU and in our partner countries. Therefore we have to be aware of and continue to strengthen our resilience against this kind of activity and interference,” Fotyga concluded.