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Concern over interference in elections rises ahead of Euro-poll

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Concern over interference in elections rises ahead of Euro-poll

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(BRUSSELS) - Ahead of next year's European elections, a majority of EU citizens are worried that disinformation campaigns, data breaches and cyber attacks will interfere with electoral processes, according to a survey.

The new Eurobarometer survey published by the European Commission sheds light on the expectations of Europeans for the May 2019 European elections and what would motivate them to cast their vote.

"The good thing is that more and more citizens are critical of the information they are offered, and well aware of the dark forces that would like to manipulate what they read, think and ultimately vote for." said the EC's first vice-president Frans Timmermans: "For the legitimacy of our European democracy it is essential that citizens use their right to vote."

"This survey confirms that Europeans know that the upcoming elections will not be business as usual," added Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová: "They expect actions that will guarantee fair and secure elections and more information about the EU and new faces in politics. We are fighting against illegal data manipulation, countering disinformation and make our elections more resilient."

What Europeans want ahead of European elections

42 % of Europeans went to the polls for the 2014 European elections. The figures published today indicate what could bring more Europeans to vote:

  • 43 % of the respondents would like to receive more information on the EU and its impact on their daily lives;
  • 31 % want more young people standing as candidates.

The Juncker Commission has been working actively on bringing the EU closer to its citizens. The European Commissioners reached out to citizens and participated in over a thousand Citizens' dialogues since the beginning of the mandate.

The Commission has launched several campaigns, including the EU Protects campaign and the EU and Me campaign, which reaches out to younger generations. Ahead of the elections, the European Commission together with the European Parliament will run awareness-raising campaigns to mobilise citizens to vote.

Concerns related to elections

Today's figures show that Europeans are worried about interference in the elections:

  • 61% worry that elections can be manipulated through cyberattacks,
  • 59% worry about foreign actors and criminal groups influencing elections
  • 67% worry that personal data left online could be used to target the political messages they see.

But Europeans overwhelmingly agree (74- 81%) on the way to tackle these threats:

  • by introducing more transparency to online social media platforms, including on clearly indicating who is behind online advertisement;
  • by giving equal opportunities to all political parties to access online services to compete for voters' attention;
  • by giving a right to reply for candidates or political parties on social media;
  • by introducing the same silence period online as already exists for traditional media.

The Eurobarometer survey on Democracy and Elections was conducted 27,474 face-to-face at respondents' home in 28 EU Member States.

The set of measures to protect European elections focus on:

  • Data protection: improving the protection of personal data in the electoral context
  • Transparency: guaranteeing the transparency of online political advertising
  • Cybersecurity: protecting elections from cyberattacks
  • Cooperation: improving national and European cooperation on potential threats to European Parliament elections
  • Appropriate sanctions: guaranteeing that electoral rules are respected by all

Eurobarometer Democracy and Elections - report and factsheets

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