M. Kučinskis: Safeguarding of democratic elections is a common challenge for the EU
On Thursday 20 September, Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis participated in the informal European Council meeting in Salzburg. The focus of this meeting was on internal security, including the security of elections and cybersecurity.
Addressing the other EU heads of state or government, M. Kučinskis pointed out that the attempts of third parties to intervene in and manipulate with the process of elections in democratic countries are proven and well-known. Latvia holds a view that a collective European approach and coordination are of the utmost importance for the Member States to fight against disinformation and cyberattacks. Latvia’s strategy for the security of elections, in the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections, is being implemented with an objective to reduce the risk of malicious external impact.
“The safeguarding of democratic elections is a common challenge and we welcome the proposal made by the European Commission to exchange experience, analysis and ideas among the Member States by establishing a common network of contact points. The Commission’s communication about the steps to be taken in the context of the security of the upcoming elections of the European Parliament notes the minimum level of ambition that needs to be reached in order for us to be confident about democratic and transparent progress of elections,” said the Prime Minister.
M. Kučinskis emphasized the need to obtain assurance that the data of our citizens, which on a large scale is available to the holders of social media and the Internet platforms, cannot be misused. He indicated that the adoption of the Data Protection Regulation was a step in the right direction. At the same time, he stressed that the education of the public on these issues is very important. In this area, three elements are of the utmost importance for Latvia. First, pluralistic, diverse and sustainable media environment and the support for high-quality journalism and media literacy – this issue needs to be reflected in the next multiannual EU budget. Second, the social media and the Internet platforms must become more responsible in connection with transparency and the restriction of distribution of illegal content, as well as the data availability for research related purposes. The EU should continue the rigorous approach in the field of protection of the private data of the citizens. We want a common European approach and action on these matters. Third, it is important that the European External Action Service East StratCom Trask Force actively continues its work on highlighting and stopping disinformation.
During the meeting in Salzburg, the officials also discussed issues regarding UK leaving the EU or Brexit. Latvia holds a view that, even at the end of Brexit negotiations, it is important to maintain unity among the 27 EU countries. The first priority is to reach an agreement with UK on the declaration of withdrawal – this document must be produced in a way that pleases both sides.
Press Secretary to the Prime Minister