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The expectations of Europeans for the May 2019 European elections

26.11.2018 – The European Commission dedicates its annual Fundamental Rights Colloquium to “Democracy in the EU” at a time when Europeans worry about interference in elections. A new Eurobarometer survey published today sheds light on the expectations of Europeans for the May 2019 European elections and what would motivate them to cast their vote. It also shows that a majority of EU citizens are worried that disinformation campaigns, data breaches andcyberattacks will interfere with electoral processes. The 2018 annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights is bringing together politicians, researchers, journalists, NGOs and activiststo to discuss how to make our democracies more resilient and inclusive, how to support civil society and better safeguard free and fair elections.

What Europeans want ahead of European elections

42 % of Europeans went to the polls for the 2014 European elections. The figures published today indicate what could bring more Europeans to vote:

43 % of the respondents would like to receive more information on the EU and its impact on their daily lives;

31 % want more young people standing as candidates.

The Juncker Commission has been working actively on bringing the EU closer to its citizens. The European Commissioners reached out to citizens and participated in over a thousand Citizens’ dialogues since the beginning of the mandate.

The Commission has launched several campaigns, including the EU Protects campaign and the EU and Me campaign, which reaches out to younger generations. Ahead of the elections, the European Commission together with the European Parliament will run awareness-raising campaigns to mobilise citizens to vote.

Concerns related to elections

Today’s figures show that Europeans are worried about interference in the elections:

61% worry that elections can be manipulated through cyberattacks,

59% worry about foreign actors and criminal groups influencing elections

67% worry that personal data left online could be used to target the political messages they see.

 

But Europeans overwhelmingly agree (74- 81%) on the way to tackle these threats:

by introducing more transparency to online social media platforms, including on clearly indicating who is behind online advertisement;

by giving equal opportunities to all political parties to access online services to compete for voters’ attention;

by giving a right to reply for candidates or political parties on social media;

by introducing the same silence period online as already exists for traditional media.

 

Tackling challenges

In September, the European Commission already put forward a set of concrete measures to make sure that next year’s European Parliament elections are organised in a free, fair and secure manner. The measures include greater transparency in online political advertisements and the possibility to impose sanctions for the illegal use of personal data in order to deliberately influence the outcome of the European elections. The European Commission also set up a European electoral cooperation network, which will meet for the first time in January 2019. The Commission calls on Member States to nominate their representative for this network as soon as possible. The Fundamental Rights Colloquium will look into potential solutions ahead of the network’s first meeting. On disinformation, the European Commission is taking a number of actions. Major tech companies signed the Code of Practice on Disinformation last month that will help provide more transparency on sponsored political advertising online. The European Commission and the External Action Service (EEAS) are currently finalising a common Action Plan on disinformation for a coordinated response at Union and Member State level to the threat of disinformation. This action Plan is to be adopted in the coming weeks. More: here

Source: EC Press

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