More measures against “foreign interference”, mainly from Russia and China, in democratic processes. This is what is requested by a report from the European Parliament approved this Wednesday by the plenary session in Strasbourg, with 552 votes in favor –popular; socialists; liberals, like Cs and PNV; green, like ERC and the Comuns; and part of the ultraconservatives and the Left–; 81 votes against – extreme right and non-registered, like Junts; and parties of the Left, such as Bildu and the PCP–; and 60 abstentions –including Vox, M5S; IU, Podemos, Anticapitalistas–. Thus, the plenary session of the European Parliament points to Russia’s links with the European extreme right, as well as with sponsors of Brexit and “representatives of a group of Catalan secessionists”, and advocates a “sanctions regime against disinformation”.
“The lack of EU measures and sanctions makes interference an attractive tactic for foreign actors, says the committee on foreign interference and disinformation,” says the report drafted by the Special Commission on Foreign Interference (INGE) of the European Parliament Approved this Wednesday.
The report further notes that “parties such as the Austrian Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, the French Rassemblement National and the Italian Lega Nord have signed cooperation agreements with President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and are now facing accusations from the media. that they are willing to accept political funding from Russia; that other European parties, such as Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Hungary’s Fidesz and Jobbik, and the UK’s Brexit Party, are also in close contact with the Kremlin and that the AfD and Jobbik have also worked as ‘election observers’ in Kremlin-controlled elections, for example in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, to monitor and legitimize Russian-sponsored elections; that the conclusions on close contacts and regular between Russian officials and representatives of a group of Catalan secessionists in Spain, as well as between officials Russian Aryans and the largest private donor to the Brexit campaign, require in-depth investigation and are part of Russia’s broader strategy to seize any and all opportunities to manipulate speech in order to promote destabilization.”
According to the report, “European rulers are overwhelmingly unaware of the seriousness of the threat posed by foreign autocratic regimes, particularly Russia and China, which has made it easy for malicious actors to carry out cyberattacks, recruit former high-level politicians and spread polarization in public debate. This is aggravated by gaps in legislation and lack of coordination between EU countries.”
Faced with the threats, MEPs urge the EU “to raise public awareness” and “strengthen its capacities and build a sanctions regime against disinformation. The rules on social media platforms, which serve as vehicles for foreign interference, also They must harden.
In addition, the parliamentary committee recommends: supporting widely distributed and pluralistic fact-checkers and media; make platforms on-line invest in language skills to be able to act on illegal and harmful content in all EU languages; treat digital electoral infrastructure as critical; provide financing alternatives to Chinese foreign direct investment used as a geopolitical tool; clarify “highly inappropriate” relations between certain European political parties and Russia; ban foreign financing of European political parties; urgently improve cybersecurity, classify and register surveillance software like Pegasus as illegal and ban its use; and making it difficult for foreign actors to recruit former top politicians too soon after they have left their jobs.
The Special Commission on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE) was created in June 2020. After approximately 50 hearings with around 130 experts, the one and a half year mandate at the end of March.