The European Union needs to communicate better in the future or else other countries such as China will “occupy the space,” Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová said Thursday.
“Far too often, we didn’t manage to get our story about Europe and EU support out [during the coronavirus crisis]. It’s high time we stepped up on this and not allow others, such as China to occupy the space,” Jourová said at a webinar organized by her political group Renew Europe.
At the height of the pandemic, China engaged in a PR campaign to show it was helping EU countries such as Italy with masks and supplies, when their European neighbors couldn’t — or wouldn’t.
Europe failed to get its own messaging out to set the record straight and the EU’s executive body will present next week a communication on disinformation in the context of COVID-19 that will address the issue, Jourová said.
“No more propaganda around the boxes “from China with love” which we saw in the peak of COVID. We’re grateful for the support, we bought a lot of necessary equipment from China, but we have also to tell the truth about who’s helping how, and there was a lot solidarity and help among member states,” the Czech politician added.
The upcoming communication will also take stock of actions taken so far to fight disinformation and propose complementary actions to protect citizens. It will include reflections on how to support competent authorities, fact checkers and researchers.
“We will have clear expectations from platforms to be more transparent and remove financial incentives to spread disinformation. We have many different surveys showing that lying flies quicker and sells better. This has to be stopped and minimized,” Jourová said.