EU political elites “advancing” Gazprom’s agenda and Hungary’s “susceptibility” to Russian intelligence activities

EU political elites “advancing” Gazprom’s agenda and Hungary’s “susceptibility” to Russian intelligence activities

The EU needs a coordinated strategy against foreign interference and information manipulation (FIMI), including measures to enforce better existing provisions to fight it, say MEPs in the report adopted on Wednesday.

They add that adequate funding should be provided for capacity-building activities to tackle disinformation and uphold democratic processes.

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, according to the MEPs’ report, “clearly made the link even more evident” between attempts of FIMI and threats to the EU and its immediate neighbourhood, Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as global security and stability.

This is the warning from MEPs who sit on the special committee on foreign interference.

MEPs are now requesting that the Commission develop an effective defence of democracy package taking into account the conference on the future of Europe final proposals.

The report by MEPs names alleged examples of foreign interference such as political elites who they claim are advancing Gazprom’s agenda in Germany; susceptibility to Russian intelligence activities in Hungary; and targeting LGBTIQ+ community with disinformation campaigns in Slovakia, Hungary and Poland.

Concerned about the EU’s dependence on foreign actors and foreign technologies in critical infrastructures and supply chains, MEPs call on the Council and the Commission to exclude the use of equipment and software from manufacturers from high-risk countries, particularly China and Russia, such as TikTok, ByteDance, Huawei, ZTE, Kaspersky, NtechLab or Nuctech.

Stressing that increased interference and information manipulation is expected in the run-up to the 2024 European elections, MEPs suggest establishing a Rapid Alert System for members of European and national parliaments to counter online disinformation and prevent sharing.

Finally, MEPs call for closer cooperation with like-minded partners to counter FIMI, and to increase cooperation on strategic communication to counter manipulated narratives in the EU neighbourhood and the Global South.

The report was adopted by 27 votes in favour, 1 against and 1 abstentions.

The report will now be submitted to a vote in the Parliament as a whole at the May II plenary session.

As a response to the alleged attempts by foreign countries, including Qatar and Morocco, to influence MEPs, the special committee will prepare a separate report identifying the flaws in the European Parliament’s rules on transparency, ethics, integrity and corruption and make proposals for reforms to effectively fight corruption. The vote in the committee will be on 1 June.


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