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.