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EU official names Russia as main disrupter of elections in Europe

Vera Jourova, Commissioner, European Commission. (Annika Haas/EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A top EU official has named Russia as the main source behind activities interfering with elections in Europe but noted that others are also learning from Moscow.

“Crucial electoral rules have been breached or circumvented, in particular existing rules on transparency of campaign financing,” Vera Jourova, European commissioner for justice and consumer policy, told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on November 14.

“The most cited source of activities interfering with elections in Europe is Russia,” Jourova said, adding also that “other countries and private interests increase their capabilities for election interference.”

“Investigations are ongoing into allegations of dark financing from undisclosed third-country sources,” she told EU lawmakers.

Jourova’s statements came during a debate on the potential influence of foreign actors in next year’s European Parliament elections.

The debate comes as the European Union is preparing to do more to counter Russian propaganda.

The European Commission is currently drafting an action plan to be presented to EU member states in December that is likely to boost the work of the EU’s East Stratcom Taskforce, which was created in 2015 to address Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns.

A European Parliament draft report seen by RFE/RL that will be discussed for the first time later this month is calling for more funding for the Taskforce, as well the creation of a new portfolio in the European Commission dedicated to the fight against propaganda.