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S&Ds: No time to waste in protecting the 2024 European elections from foreign interference!

Date

26 Apr 2023

Sections

Global Europe

Today, members of the European Parliament special committee on foreign interference and disinformation (INGE) - set up on the initiative of the S&D Group in 2020 - voted its second report with concrete recommendations on how to protect the democratic process from malicious foreign actors, and particularly from Russia and China.

Hostile foreign interference, disinformation, hybrid threats, cyberattacks, and other tactics exploiting the vulnerabilities in European open societies are increasing, and will intensify in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2024. This report gives the Commission a blueprint on how to strengthen resilience, defend our democracies, and safeguard the European elections. The Socialists and Democrats urge the European Commission and member states to step up their efforts and implement recommendations such as prohibiting foreign funding from non-EU countries for political parties and identifying common EU rules on political campaigning and political party financing.

To increase awareness and strengthen the EU’s resilience against foreign interference, the report proposes a new approach on the basis of the level of risk in each country, allowing for faster responses and lowering unnecessary legal complexity in high risk cases.

The report also calls for new EU legislation to fight the phenomenon of the capture of the elite by companies with links to authoritarian governments, as well as a specific EU sanctions regime on perpetrators of foreign interference.

Andreas Schieder, S&D spokesperson and negotiator in INGE, said:

“Time of naivety is over! The Russian invasion of Ukraine clearly exposed the link between foreign attempts to manipulate information and threats to the EU. We must prepare ourselves for the tactics used by Russia and other hostile actors to weaken and divide Europe and interfere in our immediate neighbourhood, which will not only increase but will get more and more sophisticated in the run-up of the European elections. Regions like the Western Balkans or Partnership Countries will also need our help to counter destabilising efforts by countries like Russia.

Hence, it is regrettable that the European Commission has not yet translated most of the INGE recommendations – something we presented over one year ago – into concrete legislative proposals. I hope that the Defence of Democracy Package that Ursula von der Leyen promised to present in her last state of the Union speech will make a real change in this regard. It’s time to take urgent action to close the many loopholes in EU party financing legislation, find a compulsory regulatory scheme for the big platforms, and step up its cyber defence against possible attacks on our electoral system.”

Raphaël Glucksmann, S&D MEP and Chair of INGE, added:

“Hybrid warfare and foreign interferences are not foreign policy issues, they threaten the very basis of our democracies. Our special committee has shed light on our weaknesses and has recommended a path to overcome them. It’s high time for the Commission and the Council to deliver. The upcoming Defence of Democracy Package will be of the utmost importance and the report that has been voted today is a milestone towards a safer, stronger, and more sovereign European Union. We are turning the page of years and years of European indolence, illusion, and corruption.”

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