Disinformation is not new.

It has been a weapon of political influence for many centuries.

In this century, what has changed is the speed, aggression and ease with which it spreads.

We see campaigns to undermine elections, public institutions, critical infrastructure – with a clear motive to influence, disrupt or destabilise.

Elections have proved to be a particularly strategic and sensitive target of hybrid threats.

By 2020, EU countries will have held more than 50 European, national, regional and local elections.

Since it was set up in 2015, our East Stratcom Task Force has identified and analysed more than 4,500 disinformation cases.

There is strong evidence pointing to Russia as a primary source of disinformation in Europe. Disinformation is part of Russia’s military doctrine and its strategy to divide and weaken the West.

Russia spends €1.1 billion a year on pro-Kremlin media.

You will also have heard about the troll factory based in St Petersburg and bot armies.

Many Member States have already taken action to counter these threats. We need to work together and coordinate our efforts. In a European way, protecting our freedoms.  

Today, with High Representative Federica Mogherini, we publish an action plan to set out how to fight back against the relentless propaganda and information weaponising used against our democracies.

We will reinforce our teams fighting disinformation in the European External Action Service. Their budget is expected to more than double next year to reach €5 million.

This will help them use new tools and technologies to fight disinformation. We also propose to increase their staff.

We set up a rapid alert system with Member States so that disinformation can be quickly countered with hard facts.

More sharing and assessment of intelligence.

More and better analysis of threats.  

We also ask online platforms to deliver on their commitments to counter disinformation.

At the same time, we will increase our support for media, teachers, fact-checkers and researchers - because we want our societies to become more resilient, "disinformation-proof".

Together we will expose the lies and fight back.

Thank you.