Estonia calls for permanent funding for task force countering Kremlin propaganda
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas made a proposal at a summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening to ensure permanent financing for the EU task force created in 2015 to counter Russian propaganda.
Rõivas' proposal came during a discussion on Russia in which the Estonian prime minister emphasized that the EU's strategic communication must be strengthened and that in order to ensure this, financing of the EU Strategic Communication Task Force (EU StratComm) under the European External Action Service (EEAS) must be improved, spokespeople for the Estonian government reported.
The subject of permanent financing for EU StratComm was raised by Estonia and supported by Latvia, Denmark and Finland.
At present, the work of EU StratComm depends on experts provided by individual member states, which is not a long-term solution; it's budget should eventually be covered by EEAS as well.
Set up in 2015 after the breakout of the crisis in Ukraine, EU StratComm is tasked with studying the Kremlin's activities in the public information space and counteracting its disinformation efforts in Russia and EU countries as well as developing EU-related communication in countries of Eastern partnership. For example, analyzing news spread by the Kremlin following the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) and the recent attack on a UN aid convoy in Syria, the task force identified 2,000 disinformation stories and 60 myths about the EU.
On Thursday evening, Rõivas read a brief report to his EU colleagues on the topics of hybrid warfare and strategic communication as part of the discussion on Russia.
The EU leaders decided to hold off on imposing new sanctions against Russia in connection with recent events in Syria but left the option on the table.