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 Full text 
Wednesday, 27 November 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Interference from other countries in our democracies and elections (topical debate)

  Claude Moraes (S&D). – Madam President, Mr Lenaers just said that we have just had a resolution, we’ve just had a debate and now, of course, we’re back debating the same thing, but there is a reason for this and the reason is that something is happening. This is not an exaggerated issue; this is an issue on which the Commission – Commissioner Jourová and Commissioner King – have been working now for months. This is an issue on which we have been working. We wanted a special committee for a reason and the reason is not that some Donald Trump says to Boris Johnson, I like you, I want your NHS, I’d like to buy it. That is not the interference we’re talking about. I don’t like it, but it is not what we’re talking about. It is talking about a growing body of evidence that there is illegal and covert interference, what John F Kennedy would not have liked. Because at least one voter is voting differently because they have been targeted. Cambridge Analytica, the theft of private information for covert and illegal use against a constitution and against a body of jurisprudence and law.

So let’s just be clear what we are talking about. It is illegal and it is covert. Today it will harm us; maybe tomorrow it will harm you. So, this is what we are talking about and I welcome what my UK colleagues have done in initiating this debate because what they are doing is uncovering the latest element of this in my own country, which is where our Conservative Government is covering up the truth from the public by refusing to release the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report on the Russian threat to UK politics. One of our big Member States of the European Union. The report has been approved by the UK intelligence agencies, there is no impediment to publication, and yet, they’re not publishing.

How much more evidence do we need to understand that this evidence is real? Well, the Commission, of course, talked about continued and sustained misinformation during the last May elections, similar to those carried out in the US and France. The report, of course, talks about limited action and I encourage the Commissioner, of course, in her new role, with the new College, to do as much as possible. Because what we’re talking about is online and offline safeguards, the banning of profiling for electoral purposes, the content shared by bots, the removal of fake accounts. Neither the private sector nor indeed our governments are doing enough yet. There can be nothing more important than free and fair elections. This is against the law, it’s covert, it is illegal and we must do something about it to safeguard our democracies.

Last updated: 20 December 2019Legal notice