Words that Corrupt: the European Union’s Clash with Disinformation

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Words that Corrupt: the European Union’s Clash with Disinformation

Today, people’s lives, security and freedom are threatened in unexpected ways. Consequently, hybrid threats require innovative strategies and unwavering solutions. The formulation and achievement of the latter are part of the difficult task the European Union (EU) is facing, when preparing the EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy, expected in June 2016. This paper studies a powerful new threat to the EU, which comes in many forms and names – propaganda, disinformation, information warfare. First, we look at how this phenomenon has been identified and defined by European institutions. We then examine the main tenets of the Russian strategy to influence the public opinion within the EU through disinformation, ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea. As an illustration, we focus on similar channels and strategies used in Bulgaria. Despite Bulgaria being one of the smallest and poorest members of the EU, its case is one from which useful inferences could be drawn – related to the importance of free press, adequate political culture and good knowledge and understanding about the interests, values and policies of the EU. The last section of the paper offers several policy recommendations in that direction. All of them stem from the importance of soft power development and coherent public diplomacy, needed for the EU to establish itself as a global actor.

Gergana Tzvetkovag.tzvetkova@sssup.it

Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy

Gergana Tzvetkova is a PhD candidate in Politics, Human Rights and Sustainability at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies (Pisa), DIRPOLIS Institute. She has interdisciplinary academic background and her research interests include international relations, foreign policy analysis, international norms, human rights and transatlantic relations. Her doctoral thesis examines the inclusion of the concept of human rights by the US and the EU in their counter-piracy efforts in Somalia.