“The EPP Group welcomes the plans to step up European efforts to counter disinformation, in particular with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, but asks for binding rules for social media platforms and a tougher foreign policy stance towards Chinese and Russian disinformation”, said MEPs Sandra Kalniete and Axel Voss ahead of today’s adoption of the European Commission’s plan on tackling COVID-19 disinformation.

“It must be an EU foreign policy priority to counter China’s and Russia’s deliberate spread of false information. Their aim is to destabilise Europe and the international order. Fighting disinformation is vital, not only to protect the EU’s future but also people’s lives during the pandemic”, stressed Kalniete, EPP Group Vice-Chair for Foreign Affairs.

“If we don’t succeed in this, every aspect of our democracies and European way of life are threatened, starting from elections, to IT infrastructure, our privacy and day-to-day business”, she continued.

“We strongly support the proposal by the European Commission asking dominating social media platforms to report monthly on COVID-19 misinformation. Social media platforms must be held responsible for the disinformation they disseminate. We need binding EU rules for this”, underlined Voss, EPP Group Spokesman on Legal Affairs.

“Fake news has made it increasingly difficult to spread reliable information on the virus, thus putting the health of our citizens at risk. The bigger the platform, the greater the audience that receives false narratives which should automatically result in a greater responsibility of those dominating platforms to combat fake news. Social media platforms must take down false information, shut down bot-nets and stop earning money from adverts from accounts that spread political disinformation”, added Voss.

“The EU must strengthen its own capacities to detect, expose and fight disinformation. This costs money and appropriate human resources, and also requires better coordination and cooperation within the EU and beyond. The EPP Group will be eager to play an active role in facilitating this as it already has in the past”, concluded Kalniete.