Croatian Government to Join EU Fight against Fake News

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Croatia will be more actively involved in the fight against fake news whose purpose is to fool the public. Among other things, the government plans to create a national contact point whose task will be to warn other EU members about deliberately disseminated disinformation in real-time through a rapid alert system which should be launched in March, ahead of European elections, reports Večernji List on January 21, 2019.

The contact point and the rapid alert system are part of the European Commission’s action plan. The main reason is the European elections in May, but also the trend that fake news and misinformation, often associated with populist movements, are ruining the confidence of citizens in institutions.

“Croatia supports the adoption of the action plan against disinformation because a coordinated European response needs to be provided against this challenge and threat, especially in the light of European elections, but also in the long run,” said the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Decisions on further steps will be taken in coordination and cooperation with EU partners.

Data from the Eurobarometer survey from March last year showed that Croatians read fake news more than the EU average. As much as 47% of respondents from Croatia said they believe they face fake news every day, while 29% thought that they find misinformation at least once a week. This is more than the EU average with 37% of respondents believing they are exposed to disinformation on a daily basis. More than 40% of Croatian respondents said that false news is a real problem for Croatia, but also democracy in general. The survey showed that Internet media had the lowest credibility, as opposed to radio, television and print media.

“In 2017, Croatia adopted the National Security Strategy and the Law on the Homeland Security System. The homeland security system has been established, which recognises new security challenges and risks, as well as hybrid action, including disinformation. It recognises the importance of coordinated action of all components of the homeland security system in Croatia in response to contemporary security threats and risks,” explained the Ministry.

The action plan, which will be discussed today at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels, focuses on four areas. “The implementation should bring about the strengthening of citizens’ confidence in institutions at the national and EU levels, and strengthening of responses against the disinformation campaigns aimed at destabilising democratic systems and processes, promoting populism and reducing the reputation of the EU,” said the sources.

When it comes to the sources of disinformation in the EU, the finger is most often pointed towards Russia. In 2017, Croatia sent a letter to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini calling for the strengthening of the struggle against Russian propaganda. The European External Action Service (EEAS), headed by Mogherini, has already established a working group within StratCom (Strategic Communication) focusing on the eastern neighbourhood (Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova) in 2015, but Croatia was not interested in this project at the time. In addition to pro-Russian sources, the European Commission has also named another source of disinformation. The European Council heard that some prime ministers are contributing to the spread of false news, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and his statements about Brexit and migrants.

More news on the media in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Sandra Veljković).


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