European Parliament steps up its fight against foreign (Russian) interference

The European Parliament steps up its fight against foreign interference ahead of the June elections.

On February 27, the European Parliament approved the Political Advertising Act, a new set of rules for political campaigns designed to combat disinformation and foreign interference during the European elections in June.

Political Advertising Act to combat disinformation and foreign interference

The Political Advertising Act was supported by 470 MEPs; 50 voted against it, and 105 abstained from voting. The document aims to make election campaigns and referendums across the EU more transparent and resistant to foreign interference.

The new rules require clear labeling of political advertising in the clearly labeled. It also streamlines access to information regarding the target audience, the advertiser, and the cost, which will be stored on a separate resource.

The Act stipulates that it will prohibit sponsorship of political advertising from third countries three months before an EU election or referendum. This provision will come into force this year.

New measures before European Parliament elections in June

In the coming days, the Council of the European Union is expected to approve the text, thus overcoming the last obstacle to its entry into force.

The European Commission sought to have the document adopted before European Parliament elections in June. However, the negotiations took longer than expected, so most of the Act’s provisions will only come into force in September 2025.

Resolution condemning Russia’s efforts to undermine European democracy

In early February, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Russia’s continued efforts to undermine European democracy and expressing serious concern about it.

The European Parliament expressed its “utter indignation and grave concern” at Russia’s ongoing efforts to undermine European democracy through various forms of interference and disinformation.

As the Kremlin tries to sow divisions among European citizens, the text emphasizes that Moscow is recruiting some MEPs as “agents of influence” and has created dependent relationships with some European political parties, including through funding.

MEPs claim that politicians recruited by the Russians promote Russian propaganda and serve Russia’s interests.

Expressing deep concern over recent media reports that Latvian MEP Tatjana Ždanoka allegedly acted as an FSB informant, the resolution emphasizes that both the European Parliament and the Latvian authorities should thoroughly investigate the matter and determine appropriate sanctions and criminal proceedings.

At the same time, the resolution points to other cases of MEPs deliberately serving Russia’s interests, including through fake election observation missions in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.

Russian agents of influence in Europe

MEPs are outraged that Russia, often in violation of EU member states’ legislation, has found ways to provide significant funding to political parties, politicians, officials, and movements in several democratic countries in order to interfere and gain leverage over their democratic processes. 

These efforts include providing bank loans, purchases, commercial transactions, and promoting financial activities. 

The text also cites examples of recent attempts at Russian interference in various countries, including the provision of narratives to far-right political parties and figures in Germany and France to undermine public support for Ukraine, as well as in Slovakia. 

MEPs are also concerned about the widespread dissemination of disinformation and illegal content on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Given Moscow’s support for separatist movements in Europe, MEPs are extremely concerned about the alleged links between Catalan separatists, including representatives of the regional government of Catalonia, as well as former regional leader and current MEP Carles Puigdemont, on the one hand, and the Russian administration, on the other. 

The Parliament wants to refer the cases involving contacts between Catalan MEPs and Russian representatives to the European Parliament’s Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members of the European Parliament for further examination.

The Parliament also calls on the relevant judicial authorities to conduct an effective investigation into MEPs allegedly linked to the Kremlin.

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