‘Hybrid campaigns can put lives at risk’ – speech by the EU High Representative at the European Parliament on foreign interference
March 2, 2021

‘Hybrid campaigns can put lives at risk’ – speech by the EU High Representative at the European Parliament on foreign interference

Emerging hybrid campaigns target European democratic values, the EU information space and even its critical infrastructure in an attempt to weaken EU societies and democracies, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in a speech at the European Parliament on foreign interference on 1 March.

“It is a coordinated attempt – it is not by accident, it is very intentional – to undermine trust, and to mislead and manipulate, targeting our values and our interests. And it comes in many different and creative shapes – I have to recognise that people who do that are very creative – online and offline, across borders and affecting many sectors,” said Borrell.

According to Borrell, actors, like Russia, disseminate and amplify false or misleading information with an intention to undermine trust, to denigrate Europe’s democratic credentials or to weaken its international alliances. China also distorts information and silences independent and critical voices, he said.

These campaigns are particularly harmful in the context of the pandemic, because they can actually put lives at risk, said Borrell. He reminded members of parliament about the narrative about chlorine [dioxide] serving as a cure to the virus, and claims spread by pro-Kremlin outlets that wearing masks is useless or amplifying voices against lockdown measures.

The COVID-19 vaccines and the so-called ‘vaccine diplomacy’ have been the focus of such actions recently, with some actors – in particular, once again, Russia – either trying to discredit Western vaccines and vaccine manufacturers while promoting their own or using the offer of preferential distribution of their own vaccine in third countries to gain geopolitical leverage. For example, pro-Kremlin media have been reporting extensively about alleged side effects of people, even dying, after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine,added Borrell.

He reminded that the regular analyses and exposure of disinformation and information manipulations by pro-Kremlin sources can be found on European External Action Service’s website EUvsDisinfo.

Find out more

Press release

EUvsDisinfo: vaccine as an ideological weapon against the European Union and its Eastern partner countries

EUvsDisinfo: how Ukraine becomes the target of pro-Russian ‘Western’ fake journalists and outlets


Interested in the latest news and opportunities?

This website is managed by the EU-funded Regional Communication Programme for the Eastern Neighbourhood ('EU NEIGHBOURS east’), which complements and supports the communication of the Delegations of the European Union in the Eastern partner countries, and works under the guidance of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and the European External Action Service. EU NEIGHBOURS east is implemented by a GOPA PACE-led consortium. It is part of the larger Neighbourhood Communication Programme (2020-2024) for the EU's Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood, which also includes 'EU NEIGHBOURS south’ project that runs the EU Neighbours portal.

The information on this site is subject to a Disclaimer and Protection of personal data. © European Union,