Estonia has joined calls for improved European-level action to counter misinformation directed at the European Union in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly from both China and Russia, in a paper jointly issued with the governments of Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, United States media portal Politico reports.
"Our citizens deserve and need a clear and honest message about the disinformation threats. Exposing disinformation campaigns by external actors is an important service provided by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to the European public," the paper said, according to Politico, who got hold of the document.
In the light of reports last month that EU diplomats softened criticism of Chinese disinformation in particular, following doubts about an earlier version of facts contained in the EEAS report on the topic, the four countries' governments said that they wanted the organization to ensure empirical and academic rigor unhindered by political considerations, in order to maintain public trust in the organization.
The paper also stressed the importance of avoiding online content take-down which was unjustified or non-transparent, adding that the current self-regulatory approach was insufficient to the task, and recommending independent evaluation.
The paper also noted that while vigilance was needed over disinformation campaigns of Russian origin, this did not mean that more resources and attention should not be paid to misinformation from China, as European Commission Vice Presidents Josep Borrell, responsible for foreign affairs amd Věra Jourová (Values and Transparency), and commissioner Thierry Breton (internal market), prepare a joint communique on tackling coronavirus-related disinformation for next week.
Editor: Andrew Whyte