The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE) has published a draft report on foreign interference and disinformation in Europe. According to the report’s explanatory statement:
October 14, 2021 When the European Parliament decided on 18 June 2020 to set up a Special Committee on Foreign Interference, including Disinformation, it tasked it with the mandate to provide a long-term approach to addressing evidence of foreign interference in the democratic institutions and processes of the EU and its Member States. One year after the constitutive meeting of the committee on 23 September 2020, and based on a long series of testimonies from various experts and practitioners, the rapporteur can already lay out the reality, the extend of the scope and the extreme sophistication of the myriad of forms taken by the aggressive interference operations decided and funded by foreign actors against the EU; the rapporteur can also point out, with concerns, the rapidity of the adaptation, the volatility and the acceleration of this phenomenon — through new actors, new narratives, new tools within a period of just one year. From the new-scale disinformation campaigns related to COVID-19 to the cyber-attacks against public authorities entities including public health infrastructures, from the interference strategies integrating elite capture and industrial lobbying to the covert financing of political activities, from the control of academic and cultural centres to the instrumentalization of national diasporas, our committee has been analysing the multi-faceted and dynamic dimension of this new type of warfare whose purpose is to undermine the social cohesion and mutual trust of our European democratic societies in order to weaken them.
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The INGE draft report includes a motion for a European Parliament resolution outlining several foreign interference mechanisms, including cyberattacks, online information manipulation, covert funding of political activities, elite capturing, control of the diaspora, and cultural, educational, and religious influence.
The report accuses Russia and China of being “particularly active in the field of elite capture and co-optation” and identifies the following individuals as Russian and Chinese influence agents:
- Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (Gazprom)
- Former Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen (Gazprom)
- Former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Karin Kneissl (Rosneft)
- Former Prime Minister of France François Fillon (Zaroubejneft)
- Former Prime Minister of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin (France China Foundation)
- Former Czech Commissioner Štefan Füle (CEFC China Energy)
- Russia and China together with other authoritarian regimes have funneled more than USD 300 million into 33 countries to interfere in democratic processes”.
- The report cites “evidence of Russian interference and online information manipulation in many liberal democracies around the world, including but not limited to the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom, and the presidential elections in France and the US, and practical support for far-right and other radical-minded forces and actors across Europe, including but not limited to France, Germany, Italy, and Austria”
- Both Russia and China “have been attempting to increase their influence using cultural, educational (e.g., through grants and scholarships) and religious institutes.”
- The report also claims many cyberattacks “have been traced to state-backed hacker groups, predominantly affiliated with the Russian and Chinese Governments.”