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International

Spain joins calls for EU action on propaganda

15:10, Monday, 13 November, 2017
Spain joins calls for EU action on propaganda

EU foreign ministers are not expected to take new action on Russian disinformation despite signs it meddled in the Catalan crisis.
     The ministers will discuss the issue in Brussels on Monday (13 November) after the EU foreign service sent out a questionnaire, seen by EUobserver, to EU capitals.It asked: "How can the EU response to disinformation be further enhanced (building on the work done by East Stratcom Task Force) and what needs to be done at EU and national level respectively?".
     It also asked: "How can we best combine these activities with a more long term focus on resilience and the objective to strengthen independent media and journalism?".
     The debate comes after eight member states urged EU foreign service chief Federica Mogherini to build up the counter-propaganda cell in her service.
     The team of 20 seconded diplomats and officials in her East, Western Balkans, and South Stratcom offices, which has no budget of its own, is tasked with pushing back against Russia's €1.2 billion propaganda machine as well as against Islamist radicalisation.
     The call for more resources came from the foreign ministers of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the UK.
     But Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis also planned to raise the alarm at Monday's EU talks.Referring to signs of Russian interference in the Catalan crisis, his, spokesman, Inigo Mendez de Vigo, told Spanish media on Friday that "Europe has to take this issue very seriously. It can't be that foreign forces, outsiders want to change the constitutional order".
     A Spanish defence ministry spokeswoman said the same day the Spanish government had "corroborated the fact that many messages and operations [on the Catalan crisis] that were seen via social networks came from Russian territory".

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