Time to shine the spotlight on foreign interference in elections

The S&D Group in the European Parliament is keeping the pressure on EU member states and the European Commission to take tougher action at the European level to defend our elections and democracies against foreign interference and manipulation. During a debate today in the European Parliament, we continue our call for a special committee of the European Parliament to investigate episodes of interference into European democracies.

Claude Moraes, S&D vice-president for resilient democracies and fundamental rights, said:

“Widespread interference continues to be a major issue in many of our member states and the measures that have been introduced are insufficient to counter the assault on our democracy. We need to do more if want to win the fight against online and offline disinformation.

“Many of our member state governments are failing to act, and in the case of the UK, the government is even covering up the truth from the public by refusing to release the intelligence and security committee report on the Russian threat to UK politics. The importance of this issue is the reason that our Group introduced a resolution which was adopted by a large majority last month. In this resolution, we called for tougher action at the European level to defend our elections against foreign interference and manipulation, much of which favours anti-EU, extremist and populist candidates and uses minorities and vulnerable groups like migrants or LGBTI people as targets.

Kati Piri, S&D vice-president and member of the committee on foreign affairs, said:

“Our group was the first in this house to put the spotlight on the problem of foreign interference in our democratic systems, and I am happy to see that other groups are joining our call for urgent action, as the threats continue to rise with every new election in our member states.

“The EU needs to come forward with ambitious proposals to defend fair and free elections, as they are at the heart of our democratic processes in Europe. This can start in this house by setting up a special committee of the European Parliament to find out what is really going on and by opening an in-depth inquiry into all episodes of recent interference from third state and non-state actors. With social media playing a more significant role in elections than ever before, we also need to make sure that EU and national electoral laws are fit for purpose in today’s digital world and resilient enough to face up to new threats such as cyber-attacks.”