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EU cites Russian interference in European elections

EU cites Russian interference in European elections

Vera Jourova - 13 - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission said Friday it had found evidence of coordinated behaviour to spread disinformation in the run-up to the recent European elections, particularly from Russian sources.

The Commission and the EU's foreign policy chief were reporting on progress in the fight against disinformation and the main lessons drawn from the European elections, as a contribution to discussions at an EU summit next week.

A Communication sets out how the EU's Action Plan against Disinformation and Elections Package helped to fight disinformation and 'preserve the integrity of the European Parliament elections'.

In a joint statement, the Commission, including Commissioner Vera Jourova, and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said EU action in setting up election networks at national and European level, helped in 'protecting our democracy from attempts at manipulation'.

"We are confident that our efforts have contributed to limit the impact of disinformation operations, including from foreign actors, through closer coordination between the EU and Member States," says the statement.

However, it admits much still needs to be done: "The European elections were not after all free from disinformation; we should not accept this as the new normal. Malign actors constantly change their strategies. We must strive to be ahead of them. Fighting disinformation is a common, long-term challenge for EU institutions and Member States. "

It said that ahead of the Euro-elections, they found evidence of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" aimed at spreading divisive material on online platforms, including through the use of bots and fake accounts.

The statement stressed that online platforms have a particular responsibility to tackle disinformation.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have made some progress under the EU Code of Practice on disinformation, and this is outlined in the latest monthly reports. The Commission says it now expects online platforms to maintain momentum and to step up their efforts and implement all commitments under the Code.

For the elections, the EU, together with journalists, fact-checkers, platforms, national authorities, researchers and civil society, says it helped to deter attacks and expose attempts at interfering in democratic processes.

However, it adds that disinformation is a rapidly changing threat. "The tactics used by internal and external actors, in particular linked to Russian sources, are evolving as quickly as the measures adopted by states and online platforms. Continuous research and adequate human resources are required to counter new trends and practices, to better detect and expose disinformation campaigns, and to raise preparedness at EU and national level. "

Factsheet: Action Plan against Disinformation - Report on Progress

Joint report on the implementation of the Action Plan against Disinformation

Action Plan against Disinformation

Package on securing free and fair European elections

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