Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D, FR), the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE), issued the following statement on Friday, after the publication of a study on the EU’s anti-disinformation efforts by the European Court of Auditors.
“The work of the special committee reveals serious breaches by foreign-driven disinformation campaigns that target the correct functioning of democracies. The democratic debate gets misdirected by actors hostile to the EU. These operations eventually can impact on the outcome of elections. The EU should guard itself against disinformation and ensure that its democratic structures remain inviolable.
Yesterday (03.06.2021), the European Court of Auditors published a special report on disinformation. It shows that the European Action Plan against Disinformation, adopted in 2018, is relevant and draws up a path to good practices. However, it has remained incomplete and has failed to reach some of its goals. The meticulous analysis underlines the severity of the situation and the crucial threats facing our democracies. The Court recommends to move faster and with more resolve.
The recommendations of the Court of Auditors echo the lessons we draw during the ongoing hearings in the INGE special committee.
The scarcity of resources at the disposal of the East StratCom Task Force of the European External Action Service does not allow it to respond effectively to emerging attacks and threats. The report underlines the necessity to broaden the mandate of the existing bodies and to equip it with adequate staff and budgets.
Today, there are no coordination or follow-up mechanisms to ensure that the EU response is coherent and proportionate to the extent of the threat. This has to improve.
The EU’s Rapid Alert System against disinformation (RAS) does not fulfil its primary objective. Even if it allows for the exchange of information among member states and EU institutions, it has never issued an alert and does not coordinate the attributions and joint responses as originally planned. To protect citizens, it is necessary to reinforce this tool and to make full use of it.
In addition, the cooperation with the online platforms cannot continue on a voluntary basis or by informal dialogue only. The cooperation between the EU institutions and the online platforms has to be governed by a protocol. The ongoing revision of the Code of Practice should equally define the responsibilities of each stakeholder in the fight against disinformation.
Finally, the report of the Court of Auditors reminds us of the importance of a media education strategy. The INGE special committee is going to address this matter soon to complement a series of ambitious proposals for a more resilient democratic framework.”