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Countering the health 'infodemic'

07-04-2020

The dissemination of mis- and disinformation in traditional media and on social media has surged in recent years, with wide-ranging consequences in various policy areas – from elections to geopolitics to healthcare. The prevalence of false information regarding health issues threatens to undermine trust in official health advice and institutions responsible for countering threats to public health, potentially posing a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of individuals, a threat exacerbated ...

The dissemination of mis- and disinformation in traditional media and on social media has surged in recent years, with wide-ranging consequences in various policy areas – from elections to geopolitics to healthcare. The prevalence of false information regarding health issues threatens to undermine trust in official health advice and institutions responsible for countering threats to public health, potentially posing a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of individuals, a threat exacerbated in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 foreign influence campaigns: Europe and the global battle of narratives

06-04-2020

The global health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic – which is currently hitting EU Member States, not least Italy and Spain, particularly hard – raises concern that a combination of disinformation and heavily promoted health diplomacy, echoed by local proxies in Europe, could potentially pave the way for wider influence in other sectors in the wake of the crisis. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initially concealed information about the spread of the virus. Research suggests that they thereby ...

The global health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic – which is currently hitting EU Member States, not least Italy and Spain, particularly hard – raises concern that a combination of disinformation and heavily promoted health diplomacy, echoed by local proxies in Europe, could potentially pave the way for wider influence in other sectors in the wake of the crisis. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initially concealed information about the spread of the virus. Research suggests that they thereby delayed measures to alleviate the spread of the disease. At the same time, the CCP launched far-reaching efforts to silence domestic criticism. The CCP's efforts to restore Beijing's tainted image both at home and abroad include attempts to export the blame for the virus via a wave of conspiracy theories, in a move that seems to be inspired by the Kremlin's well-known tactics. At the same time, Beijing has launched a highly visible global aid offensive, providing expertise, test kits and other essential medical equipment – not all of it for free, contrary to the CCP's media offensive – to a number of countries, including in Europe. Both Moscow and Beijing seem to be driving parallel information campaigns, conveying the overall message that democratic state actors are failing and that European citizens cannot trust their health systems, whereas their authoritarian systems can save the world. Meanwhile, the EU – which has taken significant steps to help citizens both in the EU and beyond – has acknowledged the geopolitical components in what has been dubbed the 'politics of generosity', and is preparing to protect Europe against the next stage in these influence operations.

Georgia: Challenges and uncertainties for 2020

04-03-2020

Georgia is gearing up for parliamentary elections in October 2020. The 'Georgian Dream' party, in charge since 2012, has strived to implement the reforms called for in the Association Agreement with the EU. However, the government has failed to fulfil its promise on electoral reforms and is facing mounting opposition. The High Representative (HR/VP) is expected to make a statement on Georgia during the March I plenary part-session.

Georgia is gearing up for parliamentary elections in October 2020. The 'Georgian Dream' party, in charge since 2012, has strived to implement the reforms called for in the Association Agreement with the EU. However, the government has failed to fulfil its promise on electoral reforms and is facing mounting opposition. The High Representative (HR/VP) is expected to make a statement on Georgia during the March I plenary part-session.

Ukraine: The Minsk agreements five years on

04-03-2020

Six years after the beginning of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the Minsk peace agreements to end the fighting have yielded limited results. Despite some progress in late 2019 – including prisoner swaps and new peace talks – fighting in eastern Ukraine continues.

Six years after the beginning of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the Minsk peace agreements to end the fighting have yielded limited results. Despite some progress in late 2019 – including prisoner swaps and new peace talks – fighting in eastern Ukraine continues.

Religion and the EU's external policies: Increasing engagement

12-02-2020

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Religion has been emerging as a new dimension in the EU's external policies. This paper provides an overview of the principles, institutional set-up and policies underpinning the EU's approach to religious issues in third countries. Nine case studies meanwhile serve to illustrate the important role played by religion in the foreign policies of a number of different countries worldwide.

Azerbaijan ahead of the parliamentary elections

06-02-2020

Azerbaijan is an authoritarian country in the southern Caucasus. Part of the Eastern Partnership, Azerbaijan has attempted to keep a pragmatic balance between the European Union (EU) and Russia. Rich in oil and natural gas, Baku's poor human rights record and consistent failure to hold free and fair elections have continued to hamper its ties with the EU. The 9 February 2020 snap elections in the wake of abrupt top-down reforms in late 2019 are not expected to substantially change the country's leadership ...

Azerbaijan is an authoritarian country in the southern Caucasus. Part of the Eastern Partnership, Azerbaijan has attempted to keep a pragmatic balance between the European Union (EU) and Russia. Rich in oil and natural gas, Baku's poor human rights record and consistent failure to hold free and fair elections have continued to hamper its ties with the EU. The 9 February 2020 snap elections in the wake of abrupt top-down reforms in late 2019 are not expected to substantially change the country's leadership or its overall (geo-)political orientation.

The sharp power of knowledge: Foreign authoritarian meddling in academia

06-12-2019

The visibility of, and focus on, authoritarian hybrid threats – a mix of conventional and non-conventional hostile activities to undermine democracies – is increasing. Techniques and technologies keep evolving, and a growing number of authoritarian actors are adopting and adapting different tools to further their agendas. In this context, 'soft power' exerted through academic institutions and universities can become a 'sharp' hybrid tool, undermining academic independence and further eroding trust ...

The visibility of, and focus on, authoritarian hybrid threats – a mix of conventional and non-conventional hostile activities to undermine democracies – is increasing. Techniques and technologies keep evolving, and a growing number of authoritarian actors are adopting and adapting different tools to further their agendas. In this context, 'soft power' exerted through academic institutions and universities can become a 'sharp' hybrid tool, undermining academic independence and further eroding trust in facts and science.

UN Convention on children's rights: 30 years on

11-11-2019

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since 1989, conditions for children have improved, but millions remain unprotected. This is an updated and expanded version of an 'at a glance' note from 2014.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first international treaty to recognise children as human beings with innate rights. Since 1989, conditions for children have improved, but millions remain unprotected. This is an updated and expanded version of an 'at a glance' note from 2014.

Oleg Sentsov: The 2018 Sakharov Prize laureate

09-10-2019

Thirty years since it was first awarded, the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought retains all its symbolic meaning, as human rights are continually under threat in many parts of the world. By awarding the 2018 Prize to the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, Parliament aimed to increase the pressure on the Russian government to release him. The award also drew attention to all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula. On 7 September 2019, Sentsov ...

Thirty years since it was first awarded, the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought retains all its symbolic meaning, as human rights are continually under threat in many parts of the world. By awarding the 2018 Prize to the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, Parliament aimed to increase the pressure on the Russian government to release him. The award also drew attention to all Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula. On 7 September 2019, Sentsov was released as part of a major prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine. He is due to receive the award in person in Strasbourg on 26 November 2019.

Ukraine: Navigating multiple challenges

07-10-2019

Five years after the 'revolution of dignity', in which Ukrainians demanded a functioning democracy and an end to kleptocracy, the country elected a new President in April 2019 and a new Parliament in July. The new leaders in Kyiv are facing a wide range of persistent challenges. Russia's ongoing hybrid war against the country, including the illegal occupation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the continued reform process dominate the agenda. The High Representative of the Union ...

Five years after the 'revolution of dignity', in which Ukrainians demanded a functioning democracy and an end to kleptocracy, the country elected a new President in April 2019 and a new Parliament in July. The new leaders in Kyiv are facing a wide range of persistent challenges. Russia's ongoing hybrid war against the country, including the illegal occupation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, as well as the continued reform process dominate the agenda. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission is expected to make a statement on the situation in Ukraine during the October I plenary session.

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