MEPs on the Foreign Affairs Committee have adopted a resolution condemning hostile propaganda campaigns by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran and calling for action by the EU.
The resolution condemned propaganda and disinformation efforts by third parties, accusing them of attempting to influence democratic elections and referenda, support extremist activity and “undermine the normative foundations and principles of European democracies and sovereignty of all Eastern Partnership countries”. The committee noticed that influencers and institutions are able to access increasingly advanced methods to disseminate propaganda hostile to the EU and its Member States, making use of messaging apps, search engine manipulation, online news outlets and artificial intelligence among other tools.
MEPs produced a number of concrete recommendations for tackling hostile propaganda, including:
- Member States need to acknowledge, evaluate and work to counter the scope and influence of disinformation and propaganda within their territory;
- Member States, and the EU as a whole, should begin developing international legal frameworks to address “hybrid threats” – non-standard, fluid, flexible attacks from a hostile power, with particular reference to the use of mass communication to distribute propaganda;
- Sanctions should be implemented against the orchestrators and propagators of widespread disinformation campaigns;
- The EU should implement tighter regulation on social media platforms, search engine providers and messaging services to ensure transparency;
- Technology companies must work harder in identifying and countering disinformation and propaganda and take action to restrict users who circulate them;
- Perpetrators who disseminate hostile propaganda should be publicly named;
- Detailed factsheets of debunked propaganda events should be publicised; and
- The EU’s task forces addressing issues of disinformation and active propaganda must be equipped with adequate personnel and financial resources as a matter of some urgency.
European Parliament rapporteur Anna Elżbieta Fotyga said: “The European Parliament once more encourages the EU institutions to be more active in countering hostile disinformation. We have also invited all Member States to evaluate the situation within their territories. This report recalls the need to prioritize this issue at EU level. It proposes a number of recommendations on how to change the approach of our institutions, improve coordination or address the role of artificial intelligence and new technologies in advancing this threat.”
The hostile propaganda resolution will be tabled for a vote at the February plenary session of the European Parliament.