What are the main threats to the democratic process in the EU? How does the “foreign interference” narrative serve the EU in its security policy agenda? This new report, commissioned by the The Left in the European Parliament provides some answers.

Imagined threats and private interests

In 2020, the European Parliament created a Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation (INGE). The committee’s creation confirmed the arrival into the European political mainstream of the “foreign interference” narrative.

The discourse on “foreign interference” is a convenient source of imagined threats to European security, which can serve to justify new defence projects and initiatives, and drive more funding towards the security and defence sectors. A burgeoning industry in NATO-affiliated think tanks and institutes has emerged to feed into the “foreign interference” policy agenda. It is this conglomerate of think tanks and institutes, which exist to certify the EU establishment’s foreign and security policy agenda, that is the focus of this study.

Left MEP, Clare Daly says:
“The authority granted by the INGE Special Committee’s to Atlanticist and NATO think tanks, lobbying for interests that benefit from conflict, is a bitter irony for a committee intended to investigate and address foreign interference in the democratic processes of the European Union. This study is a crucial window into the process of NATO-led policy formation for movements of the left, and how it presents serious challenges for any political programme that champions peace and social justice internationally.”

The real threat is within

Protecting democratic processes from any kind of interference is an important task in a democratic society, but by focusing solely on “foreign” interference, the INGE Special Committee is incapable of performing this role. The main threat to the integrity of democratic processes is not foreign, but comes from wealthy and powerful interests interfering in the political process, through corruption, lobbying, political funding or ownership of mass media.

Clare Daly:
“The recent interest from the European establishment in the concepts of foreign interference and disinformation has been selective. Military-industrial interests in the West have a long history of disinformation designed to manufacture consent for conflict, but this record has been kept firmly in the blind spot of the INGE Special Committee. Zetsche and Rahtz’ study, ‘Rhetoric and Reality of Disinformation in the European Union”, for the Left in the European Parliament, does the important work of putting the record straight.”

The “foreign interference” narrative folds into the foreign and security policy agenda of the large European political groups, who support the project of European defence integration, militarisation, and desire a more expansionist foreign policy.

The Left in the European Parliament is struggling for a model of international relations based not on confrontation, but on peace and collaboration.