During the European Council meeting which was held on 13-14 December 2018, between discussions about the EU‘s long-term budget, external relations, migration, Brexit and other significant topics, EU27 leaders stressed the need for an urgent response to disinformation in full respect of fundamental rights. It was said that democratic systems are threatened by the spread of disinformation.
EU leaders called for:
- Rapid implementation of the joint action plan on disinformation presented by the Commission and the High Representative. The Action Plan foresees working with social networks to prevent the spread of disinformation. Measures have also been proposed to strengthen public resilience.
- Swift and decisive action at both EU and national level to secure free and fair European and national elections. There was proposed a rapid response system at European level that would allow EU countries: to respond in a coordinated manner to disinformation, share information and provide a rapid response to malicious interference in the democratic election process.
President of the Republic of Lithuania attending the European Council meeting, underlined that only by acting collectively EU Member States would be able to effectively fight disinformation from unfriendly countries. Therefore, Lithuania supports the proposed action plan. Moreover, Lithuania‘s good practice in fighting disinformation by public and media initiatives can be spread among other EU countries. For Lithuania 2019 will be very significant years in election area. In addition to European Parliament elections, Municipals and President elections are awaiting. Consequently, the fight against the spread disinformation becomes even more considerable in one of the Baltic countries.
It is worth mentioning, that Lithuania leads the EU co-operation in the field of cyber defense within Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Eight EU Member States – Estonia, Spain, Croatia, Poland, the Netherlands, France, Romania and Finland – are project participants. 4 more countries – Belgium, Greece, Slovenia and Germany – are observers of this project. The Lithuanian initiative aims to create semi-rotated EU cyber-rapid response teams consisting of specialists from cyber-incident investigations and other security authorities in the participating countries. To be noted, that almost half of EU Member states are involved into this project, while other countries consider to join it in the short term since cyber defense capabilities will make a significant contribution to the security of EU Member States and institutions in the context of the elections.