Election protection? Too little too late

In about six months, the holiday of European democracy awaits us – elections to the European Parliament will break out in the twenty-seven member countries. Over the past four years, we have appealed countless times to representatives of national governments to secure these elections.

Unfortunately, most of them instead sat idly by – possibly waiting for us to come up with something in Brussels, as this is a politically sensitive topic from which many governments shy away. Inaction and trivialization is the first fatal mistake that many political representatives continue to commit in the face of the threat of today’s cyberattacks and foreign interference.

We now find ourselves in a situation where we only have a few months to try to implement at least some of the measures that the Commission is recommending to protect the elections.

And recommendation is the crucial word here. Because what has been presented to us by the Commission last week could be best expressed in a few words: too little too late.

I may start on a positive note. I am extremely happy that the Defense of Democracy package is finally on the table: the proposal to strengthen civil society, and the proposal to protect elections – are extremely important steps.

But it bothers me that they are not important enough to some EU officials who have made sure that these are just recommendations in both cases. The only realistically enforceable legislation in the entire package concerns the transparent financing of organizations that lobby us using money from third countries.

Many of the EU representatives seem to believe that disinformation or other cyber-attacks in the course of the elections do not concern them much. Their reasoning is clear: after all, these attacks, usually heavily supported by Moscow or Beijing, are mostly aimed at liberal and generally pro-European forces. Why would they care if they were not the target themselves?

I would like to tell these representatives something: when these anti-democratic alliances successfully undermine confidence in our democratic system as such, you will go down with it, too. But then it will already be too late for you to recognize what fatal mistake you made when you chose opportunism instead of responsibility to all EU citizens.

Because after all, regular and free elections are their inalienable right. And ours is the duty to ensure this right for them.