Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Friday on the margins of a summit in Brussels that he would like the European Commission to be able to conduct investigations and possibly take action against people who carry out disinformation campaigns to try and “destabilise democracies”. Speaking during a debate on disinformation with other European heads, he said he had made the link with “the serious suspicions” of planned campaigns of lies in the debate on the UN Pact on Immigration.
The fundamental issue today is seeing “how to combine freedom of expression and the fact that we are increasingly faced with initiatives that truncate the democratic debate and make it more complicated to enable everyone to be enlightened on different social subjects,” Michel said.
“Fake news is a new form of threat,” he stressed, recalling that suspicions of manipulation have been hanging over the U.S. elections, and that misinformation campaigns were waged in the weeks preceding the Brexit referendum in Britain.
“The fragility of democracy resides within it, that is to say the use of the basic values of freedom of expression and belief to try and undermine the foundations of values that are nevertheless essential,” he concluded.