Gabrielius Landsbergis, Chair of the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrat (TS-LKD) Political Group, and Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Deputy Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence of the Seimas, addressed the Lithuanian MEPs with regard to the support of the media in the European Union, TS-LKD Public Relations reported in a press release
Mr Landsbergis and Mr Kasčiūnas, MPs, have underlined the importance of funding for and capacity building of the EU’s EEAS East StratCom Task Force and the need to extend the EU Action Plan on Strategic Communication to involve EU countries more closely and strengthen their media environment, including support for independent media.
The parliamentarians have noted that media outlets face difficulties during the crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak as a result of a sharp drop in on-demand advertising. The weakening of the media threatens not only democracy but also the national security of countries. This makes the need for financial support to the media more relevant. It is particularly important that this support does not depend solely on country-specific subsidies or social advertising orders. If the media is solely dependent on the support of public authorities, it will become increasingly dependent on them in the long run.
‘Recently, attempts by hostile forces to spread disinformation have been intensifying in Lithuania and other EU countries seeking to mislead the public and sow a kind of panic and distrust of the Euro-Atlantic space and state institutions. Attempts to incite unrest taking advantage of quarantine restraints are also not excluded. In this context, the role of the professional and objective media becomes particularly important, as it is one of the most important lines of defence against propaganda, disinformation, fake news and incitement of distrust,’ says Gabrielius Landsbergis, Leader of the TS-LKD.
In their address to the Lithuanian MEPs, Members of the Seimas have noted that, in order to ensure a unified EU-wide response to Russia’s information warfare, as far back as in June 2015, the European External Action Service (EEAS), in cooperation with the Member States and the EU institutions, developed an EU Action Plan on Strategic Communication.
Its goal is to counter information attacks, which includes measures to strengthen civil society and media in the Eastern Neighbourhood as well as the capacity to respond to disinformation. In September 2015, the East StratCom Task Force set up by the EEAS started its work with a view to analysing the fake information disseminated by Russia, explaining EU policies, better coordinating EU communication activities, and supporting objective media in the Eastern Partnership countries, thus reducing the range of people affected by Russian propaganda.
‘The main problem of this Task Force is that funding is very low, which makes the work of the Task Force inefficient. The European Commission allocates EUR 3 million per year to the Task Force, while the team comprising 16 experts is understaffed. At least twice as many resources are required to combat Russia’s hostile propaganda and disinformation effectively.
Another EU project, the EUR 1.46 billion-funded Creative Europe 2014–2020 programme aimed at supporting European culture, cinema, television, music, literature, performing arts, heritage and other related areas, could also actively contribute to supporting media outlets in EU countries facing difficulties during this crisis,’ said Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Deputy Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence.