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OtherApril 6 2022, 13:21 pm

European Parliament Sets up New Committee to Counter Foreign Malicious Interference

In March, the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment report­ed that it has set up a spe­cial com­mit­tee on for­eign mali­cious inter­fer­ence that will con­tin­ue the work of a sim­i­lar com­mit­tee whose term had end­ed. Accord­ing to a Euro­pean Par­lia­ment press release:

March 10, 2022 Par­lia­ment has set up three new com­mit­tees to look into the use of spy­ware by EU gov­ern­ments, mali­cious for­eign inter­fer­ence, and lessons from the pan­dem­ic. […] The “Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on For­eign Inter­fer­ence in all Demo­c­ra­t­ic Process­es in the Euro­pean Union, includ­ing Dis­in­for­ma­tion II” builds upon the work done by its homony­mous pre­de­ces­sor whose term ends on 23 March. The new 33-mem­ber-strong com­mit­tee will screen exist­ing and planned EU leg­is­la­tion in a range of areas for loop­holes that could be exploit­ed by third coun­tries for mali­cious pur­pos­es. The vote to estab­lish the spe­cial com­mit­tee was car­ried 614 in favour, 42 against and 34 abstentions.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the res­o­lu­tion adopt­ed by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the “spe­cial com­mit­tee on for­eign inter­fer­ence in all demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es in the Euro­pean Union, includ­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion (INGE 2)” is vest­ed with the fol­low­ing responsibilities:

(a)  to scru­ti­nise, in coop­er­a­tion and con­sul­ta­tion with stand­ing com­mit­tees where their pow­ers and respon­si­bil­i­ties under Annex VI of the Rules of Pro­ce­dure are con­cerned, exist­ing and planned leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies to detect pos­si­ble loop­holes, gaps and over­laps that could be exploit­ed for mali­cious inter­fer­ence in demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es, includ­ing as regards the fol­low­ing matters:

(i)  poli­cies con­tribut­ing to EU demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es, resilience through sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness, media and infor­ma­tion lit­er­a­cy, media plu­ral­ism, inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism and education;

(ii)  inter­fer­ence using online plat­forms, in par­tic­u­lar by eval­u­at­ing, in-depth, the respon­si­bil­i­ty and effects the very large online plat­forms have on democ­ra­cy and demo­c­ra­t­ic process­es in the EU;

(iii)  crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture and strate­gic sectors;

(iv)  inter­fer­ence dur­ing elec­toral processes;

(v)  covert fund­ing of polit­i­cal activ­i­ties by for­eign actors and donors;

(vi)  cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and resilience in respect of cyber­at­tacks, where relat­ed to demo­c­ra­t­ic processes;

(vii)  the role of non-state actors;

(viii)  the impact of inter­fer­ence on the rights of minori­ties and oth­er dis­crim­i­nat­ed groups;

(ix)  inter­fer­ence through glob­al actors via elite cap­ture, nation­al dias­po­ras, uni­ver­si­ties and cul­tur­al events;

(x)  deter­rence, attri­bu­tion and col­lec­tive coun­ter­mea­sures, includ­ing sanc­tions;     (xi) neigh­bour­hood and glob­al coop­er­a­tion, and multilateralism;

(xii)  inter­fer­ence by EU-based actors in EU and third countries;

(b)  to devel­op, in close coop­er­a­tion with the stand­ing com­mit­tees fol­low­ing the work­ing prac­tices of the INGE 1 spe­cial com­mit­tee, sug­ges­tions on how to rem­e­dy these gaps in order to fos­ter the EU’s legal resilience and on how to improve the EU’s insti­tu­tion­al framework;

©  to work close­ly with oth­er EU insti­tu­tions, Mem­ber States’ author­i­ties, inter­na­tion­al organ­i­sa­tions, civ­il soci­ety, as well as state and non-state part­ners in third coun­tries in order to rein­force EU action against hybrid threats and dis­in­for­ma­tion while all pub­lic activ­i­ties of the INGE 2 spe­cial com­mit­tee will respect the pri­or­i­ties set out in this decision;

(d)  to fol­low up in detail and in a rig­or­ous man­ner on the imple­men­ta­tion of the report of the INGE 1 spe­cial com­mit­tee with an eval­u­a­tion of steps tak­en by the EU institutions;

(e)  to con­tribute to over­all insti­tu­tion­al resilience against for­eign inter­fer­ence, hybrid threats and dis­in­for­ma­tion in the run-up to Euro­pean elec­tions in 2024;

Read the full res­o­lu­tion here.

The first Spe­cial Com­mit­tee was set up in June 2020. After rough­ly 50 hear­ings with around 130 experts, the committee’s one-and-a-half-year man­date lapsed at the end of March.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has exten­sive­ly cov­ered the activ­i­ties of the INGE 1:

  • In March, we report­ed INGE said there is a “gen­er­al lack of aware­ness of the sever­i­ty of for­eign inter­fer­ence and infor­ma­tion manip­u­la­tion, over­whelm­ing­ly car­ried out by Rus­sia and Chi­na,” which is “exac­er­bat­ed by loop­holes in leg­is­la­tion and insuf­fi­cient coor­di­na­tion between EU countries.”
  • In Jan­u­ary, we report­ed that INGE had con­clud­ed its 18-month inquiry and rec­om­mend­ed build­ing a sanc­tions regime against dis­in­for­ma­tion and mak­ing it hard­er for for­eign actors to recruit for­mer top politi­cians too soon after they leave their job.
  • In Novem­ber, we report­ed on a draft report by INGE, which accused Rus­sia and Chi­na of being “par­tic­u­lar­ly active in the field of elite cap­ture and co-opta­tion” and iden­ti­fied sev­er­al for­mer high-rank­ing Euro­pean politi­cians as Russ­ian and Chi­nese influ­ence agents includ­ing sev­er­al for­mer prime min­is­ters and ministers.

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