Insights European Parliament calls for sanctions on foreign interference and disinformation campaigns


The EU Parliament’s inquiry into mapping how malicious foreign powers manipulate information and interfere in the EU to undermine democratic processes concluded that malicious actors can, without fear of consequences, influence elections, carry out cyber-attacks, recruit former senior politicians and advance polarisation in public debate.

The report by the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the EU, including Disinformation (INGE) says that a general lack of awareness of the severity of foreign interference and information manipulation, overwhelmingly carried out by Russia and China, is exacerbated by loopholes in legislation and insufficient coordination between EU countries.

The EU Parliament urges the EU to create a common strategy to face the challenge of disinformation, including by putting in place specific sanctions related to foreign interference and disinformation campaigns. MEPs also insist on involving civil society organisations in raising public awareness and spreading general information.

In addition, Parliament recommends the following measures:

  • broadly distributed, pluralistic, independent media, journalists, fact checkers and researchers should receive public funding;
  • consideration should be given to revoking the licences of organisations distributing foreign state propaganda;
  • forcing social media platforms, which serve as vehicles for foreign interference, to stop boosting inauthentic accounts that drive the spread of harmful foreign interference, including in languages other than English;
  • European universities should reconsider their cooperation with Confucius Institutes, which are Chinese lobby platforms;
  • seek clarification on “highly inappropriate” relations between certain European political parties and Russia;
  • ban foreign funding of European and national political parties;
  • urgently improve cybersecurity, consider list surveillance software such as Pegasus as illegal; and
  • make it harder for foreign actors to recruit former top politicians after they have left their job.

The Special Committee’s report was adopted with 552 votes, 81 against and 60 abstentions. To read Parliament’s press release in full and for links to further information, click here.