MEP Siegfried Mureșan (EPP), chief negotiator of the European Parliament for the 2018 EU budget, has proposed the financing of a pilot project from the EU budget for next year, meant to counter the Russian Federation’s propaganda and disinformation actions. The pilot project aims at tackling propaganda in the press and social networks of the EU Member States and in the Eastern Partnership States, especially in the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. The staff from the European Commission representations in the Member States as well as from EU delegations in the Eastern Partnership States, would be trained to monitor Russian propaganda and fake news, and coached to counteract disinformation actions. MEP Siegfried Mureșan has requested funding of 3 million euro from the 2018 EU budget for this pilot project.
The pilot project aims at improving the way the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) delegations in Eastern Partnership States use their communication resources to respond to Russian propaganda efforts. For this purpose, the East Strategic Communications Task Force (East StratCom) was established inside the EEAS, focusing on three areas of work: improving the communication of EU policies towards the Eastern Partnership, strengthening the media environment, and improving the EU’s capacity to address disinformation. East StratCom has limited staff (10) and budget (EUR 200.000), and thus is not equipped to challenge a generously funded, wide-spread and audience-tailored disinformation campaign. Therefore, to enhance the EU outreach of addressing disinformation, strategic communications efforts should be tailored to national circumstances. The aim is to bring the Permanent Representations of the EU Commission in Member States and EEAS delegations to the level of expertise required to fully take advantage of the possibilities offered by social media to foster the development of a strategic communication campaign. The pilot project would fund comprehensive media monitoring across the region, including the use of big data. Apart from Eastern Partnership States, strategically vulnerable EU Member States (i.e. the Baltic states) and those states that are most predisposed to propaganda during particular periods of time (i.e. national elections), should be initially targeted by the project”, centre-right MEP Siegfried Mureșan argued.
The pilot project is supported by several other MEPs: Michael Gahler, Eduard Kukan, Petri Sarvamaa and Inese Vaidere.