Make your case: protecting the 2024 European elections from foreign interference

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With one year to go before the European Elections in May 2024, the European institutions are gearing up to defend this unique continent-wide democratic exercise form foreign interference. The future European Parliament will find itself addressing many critical questions for the European project such as the future of EU enlargement, regulating the digital sphere and safeguarding European democracy. The result of the 2024 elections will shape the EU and the world for years to come. As the European Parliament has acquired more powers, also the interest in its democratic processes has increased. Unfortunately, this also includes interest from malicious third countries and geo-political competitors, who have a stake in the outcomes.

This unique event took place on 24 May 2023 and honed into the potential threats to the integrity of the European Parliament elections and the possible ways to address them. It was a unique opportunity for YPFP members to pitch and debate their proposals to top European experts.

Discussion questions

  • The importance of the 2024 European Parliament elections – what is at stake?
  • The threat environment – what are the biggest risks that should be considered?
  • Recent EU efforts to protect European democracy from malicious interference – what has already been done and what are the issues and risks that remain unaddressed?

 

Main takeaways:

Regarding awareness raising and education:

  • Awareness raising and education are important, but both are a national competence in the European Union. This means that each member state can do on their own and should do on their own.
  • Member States can be encouraged to do more to discuss EU politics at a national level, particularly in schools and universities, to make the European population more resilient to disinformation.
  • We have to work with multipliers in order to reach some of the policies mentioned; for example, other young people can speak about the EU in schools to teach others and increase the knowledge on the EU.

 

Regarding institutions:

  • There aren’t too many bodies or stakeholders involved in combatting disinformation but strengthening the existing institutions and a better coordination between EU and other actors would be useful.
  • Important work is also done by other countries and international partners beyond the EU, such as Canada and G7.
  • Finally, working with the fact-checking community is important - the more we support the grass-root organisations and independent media, the less impact disinformation can have on society.

 

Regarding international agreements:

  • There are politicians who benefit from disinformation, particularly in authoritarian countries. Achieving a global agreement on combatting disinformation can therefore be difficult.
  • Strong and firm rules on European level are a necessary first step in order to start talking about and working towards a global agreement.

 

Speakers:

  • Mr Vladimir Bilčík, Member of the European Parliament (EPP);
  • Ms Antonia Battaglia, Senior Adviser at Tony Blair’s Institute for Global Change;
  • Ms Delphine Colard, Deputy Spokesperson and Head of Unit in the Spokesperson's unit in the European Parliament

 

Written by Ville Majamaa, Security & Defence Officer, YPFP Brussels