Foreign ministers of the European Union member states at a meeting of the European Council supported strengthening and financing the European External Action Service’s “EU versus Disinformation” Department on countering fake news, said Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Commission, following the meeting.
“I asked to beef up human resources and to increase financing for the three groups focused on strategic communications that I created in the past two years: one is focused on the East, another on Western Balkans and the last one on Arab countries. I received political support from foreign ministers and within the next few weeks we will see if the ministers of finance follow through,” Mogherini said.
Mogherini went on to explain that “Two years ago we considerably stepped up our communications with the emphasis on the Eastern Europe, Western Balkans and the Mediterranean region. I hope member states support my proposal to step up the budget for our strategic communications, in particular, working groups.”
Several times, the EEAS, led by Mogherini, broached the matter of enhancing the financing and the number of personnel employed in strategic communications. Each time, they faced the problem of a scarce budget and lack of financial support.
For example, the East Strategic Communications Task Force is a working group for eastern strategic communications of the EU whose main task is to counter propaganda and dissemination of fake news in Russia among other things. The task force is staffed with fewer than two dozen people while it has been estimated that Russia allocated a budget of EUR 1.2 billion for its propaganda activity.
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom also joined the call for additional resources to counter disinformation and anti-European propaganda spread by Russia.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain Alfonso Dastis also joined this group of countries after the appearance of evidence of Russian meddling in the Catalonian crisis. According to diplomatic circles, he brought up the matter at the current meeting of the EU Council in Brussels.
His press secretary, Inigo Mendez de Vigo also reiterated the shared standpoint in a number of Spanish media stating “the EU must consider this matter very seriously. We must not allow external, foreign forces… to interfere by trying to reshape our constitutional order.”