European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová attended a webinar, organised by the Renew Europe Group, on 4 June to discuss disinformation in the context of COVID-19.
Entitled ‘From pandemic to infodemic: countering disinformation amid COVID-19’, the webinar brought together a range of experts and policymakers, highlighted the need for a European strategy to face the threat caused by the rapid spread of disinformation and gave interested citizens an opportunity to pose questions on the topic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is just a reminder about the huge problem of misinformation, disinformation and digital hoaxes,” Jourová said in her keynote speech, and continued, “This can create confusion and distrust and it can undermine an effective public health response.”
Jourová was optimistic about the current situation and the response to this threat in Europe: “We are not only talking, we are acting. Next week [10 June], you will see a teaser with a Communication on disinformation in the COVID-19 context, and by the end of the year we will come with the Digital Services Act and the European Democracy Action Plan to give some regulatory ideas on how to advance this debate about disinformation and online responsibility.”
Calling for a holistic approach, Jourová listed a number of actions that could be taken to counter disinformation, including:
- Equipping authorities and improving cooperation among them in the EU
- Beefing up cooperation with international partners, including NATO
- Engaging civil society
- Supporting free and independent media
“The aim is to improve accountability and responsibility of online players, to help improve the resilience of our democracies and to address threats, including of external interference in European elections,” she concluded her keynote.
On 10 June, Commission Vice-President Jourová also issued a Communication on Disinformation in the context of COVID-19. This Communication considers, among others, how to strengthen reliable information and how to improve support for authorities.
We’ve witnessed a huge surge of #disinformation and online hoaxes during the #COVIDー19 pandemic. We must respond to this crisis in the European way; with respect for fundamental rights.— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) June 5, 2020
In my speech at the event by @RenewEurope I have given some ideas. ⬇️https://t.co/pDzTTJdggu
Countering #disinformation amid #COVID19. The pandemics' falsehoods and misinformation have proven deadly and sowed confusion about life-saving personal & policy choices, a proper European strategy is needed! Re-watch our webinar here: https://t.co/ac5uVo5cXk pic.twitter.com/97eyuTAsrl— Renew Europe (@RenewEurope) June 4, 2020