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Foreign interference: a threat to democratic security in Europe

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 15605 | 13 September 2022

Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO, Spain, EPP/CD ; Ms Theodora BAKOYANNIS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Ms Krista BAUMANE, Latvia, ALDE ; Mr Iulian BULAI, Romania, ALDE ; Ms Doris BURES, Austria, SOC ; Mr Ahmet Ünal ÇEVİKÖZ, Türkiye, SOC ; Ms Marie-Christine DALLOZ, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Mehmet Mehdi EKER, Türkiye, NR ; Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY, Türkiye, NR ; Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ LIMONES, Spain, SOC ; Ms Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI, Estonia, ALDE ; Mr Bogdan KLICH, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Jan LACINA, Czech Republic, EPP/CD ; Mr Reinhold LOPATKA, Austria, EPP/CD ; Mr Max LUCKS, Germany, SOC ; Ms Isabel MEIRELLES, Portugal, EPP/CD ; Ms Miroslava NĚMCOVÁ, Czech Republic, EC/DA ; Mr George PAPANDREOU, Greece, SOC ; Mr Theodoros ROUSOPOULOS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Mr Chris SAID, Malta, EPP/CD ; Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV, Ukraine, EPP/CD ; Ms Susana SUMELZO, Spain, SOC ; Mr Archil TALAKVADZE, Georgia, SOC ; Mr Ahmet YILDIZ, Türkiye, NR

In recent years, there has been solid evidence showing that foreign actors have been actively interfering in the democratic processes of Council of Europe member States, such as the holding of free and fair elections and referenda. In its Resolution 2444 (2022) “Recent challenges to security in Europe: what role for the Council of Europe?”, the Parliamentary Assembly called on member States to “safeguard their societies from attacks on the good functioning of democracy, including disinformation and misinformation, and particularly from internal or external attempts to undermine, or interfere in, electoral processes”.

Today, it has become clear that foreign interference targets not only democratic processes but all aspects of democratic functioning, as part of a destabilisation or a hybrid warfare strategy. In fact, foreign interference tactics take many forms, including large-scale disinformation campaigns; the manipulation of social media platforms; cyberattacks; widespread use of illegal and large-scale surveillance programmes to target journalists, human rights activists, academics and politicians, including European heads of state; covert funding of political activities, including of campaigns favouring specific candidates; elite capture and co-optation through recruitment of high-level personalities, national diasporas, universities and cultural events; corruption; taking control of critical infrastructure; and the instrumentalisation of migrants.

The growing incidence and increasingly sophisticated nature of attempts of foreign interference is a threat to democratic security in Europe.

The Assembly should raise awareness of the serious threats posed by foreign interference and make recommendations aimed at equipping Council of Europe member States with appropriate tools to prevent, detect, counter and sanction foreign interference.