104

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Disinformation and propaganda: impact on the functioning of the rule of law and democratic processes in the EU and its Member States - 2021 update

27-04-2021

Between January 2019 and January 2021, the impact of disinformation actions and responses to them were considerably different than in previous years. Our research showed that disinformation actions increasingly merged with genuine content, and their sources became even more difficult to identify. Particularly strong impacts were seen in cases where disinformation and manipulative propaganda were spread by individuals with high levels of political authority, who enjoy the trust and attention of citizens ...

Between January 2019 and January 2021, the impact of disinformation actions and responses to them were considerably different than in previous years. Our research showed that disinformation actions increasingly merged with genuine content, and their sources became even more difficult to identify. Particularly strong impacts were seen in cases where disinformation and manipulative propaganda were spread by individuals with high levels of political authority, who enjoy the trust and attention of citizens. Diverse legislative and policy measurements were introduced by various Member States and third states, and civil society responses also flourished, particularly in relation to increasing resilience against disinformation. Ongoing research into the psychological mechanism of manipulation and resilience gives more detailed results. This study aims to provide recommendations on legislative and policy measures to protect democracy, the rule of law, and fundamental rights from the impact of disinformation, as well as to create a structured informational ecosystem which promotes and protects these values.

External author

Judit BAYER;Bernd HOLZNAGEL;Katarzyna LUBIANIEC;Adela PINTEA;Josephine B. SCHMITT;Judit SZAKÁCS;Erik USZKIEWICZ

The impact of disinformation on democratic processes and human rights in the world

22-04-2021

Around the world, disinformation is spreading and becoming a more complex phenomenon based on emerging techniques of deception. Disinformation undermines human rights and many elements of good quality democracy; but counter-disinformation measures can also have a prejudicial impact on human rights and democracy. COVID-19 compounds both these dynamics and has unleashed more intense waves of disinformation, allied to human rights and democracy setbacks. Effective responses to disinformation are needed ...

Around the world, disinformation is spreading and becoming a more complex phenomenon based on emerging techniques of deception. Disinformation undermines human rights and many elements of good quality democracy; but counter-disinformation measures can also have a prejudicial impact on human rights and democracy. COVID-19 compounds both these dynamics and has unleashed more intense waves of disinformation, allied to human rights and democracy setbacks. Effective responses to disinformation are needed at multiple levels, including formal laws and regulations, corporate measures and civil society action. While the EU has begun to tackle disinformation in its external actions, it has scope to place greater stress on the human rights dimension of this challenge. In doing so, the EU can draw upon best practice examples from around the world that tackle disinformation through a human rights lens. This study proposes steps the EU can take to build counter-disinformation more seamlessly into its global human rights and democracy policies.

External author

Carme COLOMINA, Héctor SÁNCHEZ MARGALEF, Richard YOUNGS

Mapping Fake News and Disinformation in the Western Balkans and Identifying Ways to Effectively Counter Them

23-02-2021

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, ...

Disinformation is an endemic and ubiquitous part of politics throughout the Western Balkans, without exception. A mapping of the disinformation and counter-disinformation landscapes in the region in the period from 2018 through 2020 reveals three key disinformation challenges: external challenges to EU credibility; disinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and the impact of disinformation on elections and referenda. While foreign actors feature prominently – chiefly Russia, but also China, Turkey, and other countries in and near the region – the bulk of disinformation in the Western Balkans is produced and disseminated by domestic actors for domestic purposes. Further, disinformation (and information disorder more broadly) is a symptom of social and political disorder, rather than the cause. As a result, the European Union should focus on the role that it can play in bolstering the quality of democracy and governance in the Western Balkans, as the most powerful potential bulwark against disinformation.

External author

Samuel GREENE, Gregory ASMOLOV, Adam FAGAN, Ofer FRIDMAN, Borjan GJUZELOV

Strategic communications as a key factor in countering hybrid threats

10-03-2021

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy ...

This report describes the key features, technologies and processes of strategic communications to counter hybrid threats and their components. The theoretical description of hybrid threats is complemented by the analysis of diverse case studies, describing the geopolitical context in which the hybrid threat took place, its main features, the mechanisms related to strategic communications used by the victim to counter the hybrid threat and its impact and consequences. A comprehensive set of policy options aimed at improving the EU response to hybrid threats is also provided.

External author

DG, EPRS_This study has been written by Juan Pablo Villar García, Carlota Tarín Quirós and Julio Blázquez Soria of Iclaves S.L., Carlos Galán Pascual of the University Carlos III of Madrid, and Carlos Galán Cordero of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Institutions and foreign interferences

15-06-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, assesses the EU responses to counter foreign interferences. It examines in particular the effectiveness of the EU action against foreign interferences in the 2019 European Parliament elections, the COVID-19 crisis and the issue of foreign donations to European political parties. The study concludes with specific policy recommendations to enhance ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the AFCO Committee, assesses the EU responses to counter foreign interferences. It examines in particular the effectiveness of the EU action against foreign interferences in the 2019 European Parliament elections, the COVID-19 crisis and the issue of foreign donations to European political parties. The study concludes with specific policy recommendations to enhance the EU’s responses.

External author

Edoardo BRESSANELLI, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa (Principal Investigator) Anna DI PALMA, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa Gaetano INGLESE, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa Sofia MARINI, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa Eric REPETTO, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa

Disinformation and propaganda – impact on the functioning of the rule of law in the EU and its Member States

28-02-2019

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs and requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, assesses the impact of disinformation and strategic political propaganda disseminated through online social media sites. It examines effects on the functioning of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in the EU and its Member States. The study formulates recommendations ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs and requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, assesses the impact of disinformation and strategic political propaganda disseminated through online social media sites. It examines effects on the functioning of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in the EU and its Member States. The study formulates recommendations on how to tackle this threat to human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It specifically addresses the role of social media platform providers in this regard.

External author

Judit BAYER (scientific coordinator, editor), Budapest Business School Natalija BITIUKOVA, Independent consultant Petra BÁRD, Central European University Judit SZAKÁCS, Center for Media, Data and Society at the Central European University Alberto ALEMANNO, HEC Paris Erik USZKIEWICZ, Hungarian Europe Society

Liability of online platforms

05-02-2021

Given the central role that online platforms (OPs) play in the digital economy, questions arise about their responsibility in relation to illegal/harmful content or products hosted in the frame of their operation. Against this background, this study reviews the main legal/regulatory challenges associated with OP operations and analyses the incentives for OPs, their users and third parties to detect and remove illegal/harmful and dangerous material, content and/or products. To create a functional ...

Given the central role that online platforms (OPs) play in the digital economy, questions arise about their responsibility in relation to illegal/harmful content or products hosted in the frame of their operation. Against this background, this study reviews the main legal/regulatory challenges associated with OP operations and analyses the incentives for OPs, their users and third parties to detect and remove illegal/harmful and dangerous material, content and/or products. To create a functional classification which can be used for regulatory purposes, it discusses the notion of OPs and attempts to categorise them under multiple criteria. The study then maps and critically assesses the whole range of OP liabilities, taking hard and soft law, self-regulation and national legislation into consideration, whenever relevant. Finally, the study puts forward policy options for an efficient EU liability regime: (i) maintaining the status quo; (ii) awareness-raising and media literacy; (iii)promoting self-regulation; (iv) establishing co-regulation mechanisms and tools; (v) adoptingstatutory legislation; (vi) modifying OPs' secondaryliability by employing two different models – (a) byclarifying the conditions for liability exemptionsprovided by the e-Commerce Directive or (b) byestablishing a harmonised regime of liability.

External author

DG, EPRS_This study was written by Andrea Bertolini, Assistant Professor of Private Law of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa), and Director of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on the Regulation of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (EURA), Francesca Episcopo and Nicoleta-Angela Cherciu, Research Fellows in Private Law of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (Pisa), and Junior Fellows of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence (EURA), at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

Best Practices in the whole-of-society approach in countering hybrid threats

06-05-2021

Over recent years, the European Union has increased efforts to strengthen its resilience to hybrid threats. A model of preparedness based on the notions of ‘whole-of-society’, ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘societal resilience’ has gained ground in the EU’s policy work. Although some progress has been made, many obstacles and challenges remain. The EU needs to address conceptual questions involved with the mapping of hybrid threats to facilitate targeted and effective countermeasures, as well as initiatives ...

Over recent years, the European Union has increased efforts to strengthen its resilience to hybrid threats. A model of preparedness based on the notions of ‘whole-of-society’, ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘societal resilience’ has gained ground in the EU’s policy work. Although some progress has been made, many obstacles and challenges remain. The EU needs to address conceptual questions involved with the mapping of hybrid threats to facilitate targeted and effective countermeasures, as well as initiatives to improve societal resilience. Although the EU recognises the strategic value of resilience, the concept’s precise meaning and level of added value remain vague. Its exact relationship to national preparedness and hybrid threats, as well as the whole-of-society approach requires clarification. In addition to addressing these issues, this study analyses some best practices from the whole-of-society approach by examining action taken by Finland, Sweden and Australia in this regard. The study also provides recommendations for further actions.

External author

Mikael WIGELL;Harri MIKKOLA;Tapio JUNTUNEN

Towards a more resilient Europe post-coronavirus: Options to enhance the EU's resilience to structural risks

16-04-2021

The coronavirus crisis has underlined the need for the European Union (EU) to devote greater efforts to anticipatory governance, and to attempt to strengthen its resilience in the face of risks from both foreseeable and unforeseeable events. This paper builds further on an initial 'mapping' in mid-2020 of some 66 potential structural risks which could confront Europe over the coming decade, and a second paper last autumn which looked at the EU's capabilities to address 33 of those risks assessed ...

The coronavirus crisis has underlined the need for the European Union (EU) to devote greater efforts to anticipatory governance, and to attempt to strengthen its resilience in the face of risks from both foreseeable and unforeseeable events. This paper builds further on an initial 'mapping' in mid-2020 of some 66 potential structural risks which could confront Europe over the coming decade, and a second paper last autumn which looked at the EU's capabilities to address 33 of those risks assessed as being more significant or likely, and at the various gaps in policy and instruments at the Union's disposal. Delving deeper in 25 specific areas, this new paper identifies priorities for building greater resilience within the Union system, drawing on the European Parliament's own resolutions and proposals made by other EU institutions, as well as by outside experts and stakeholders. In the process, it highlights some of the key constraints that will need to be addressed if strengthened resilience is to be achieved, as well as the opportunities that follow from such an approach.

Peace and Security in 2021: Overview of EU action and outlook for the future

15-06-2021

This is the fourth Peace and Security Outlook produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally, through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment, in light of global shifts of power and of the ...

This is the fourth Peace and Security Outlook produced by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS). The series is designed to analyse and explain the contribution of the European Union to the promotion of peace and security internationally, through its various external policies. The study provides an overview of the issues and current state of play. It looks first at the concept of peace and the changing nature of the geopolitical environment, in light of global shifts of power and of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. It then follows the logic of the annual series, by focusing on the promotion of peace and security in the EU's external action. Linking the study to the Normandy Index, which measures threats to peace and democracy worldwide based on the EU Global Strategy, each chapter of the study analyses a specific threat to peace and presents an overview of EU action to counter the related risks. The areas discussed include violent conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, cyber-attacks, disinformation, and terrorism, among others. The EU's pursuit of peace is understood as a goal embodied in several EU policies, including development, democracy support, humanitarian assistance, security, and defence. The study concludes with an outlook for the future. A parallel study, to be published separately, focuses specifically on EU peace-building efforts in the eastern Mediterranean. The studies have been drafted as a contribution to the Normandy World Peace Forum scheduled for September 2021.

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