Disinformation and propaganda: Is Europe still losing the competition for hearts and minds?


25 October 2018


Egmont Palace, Place du Petit Sablon 8 bis, 1000 Brussels




Moderator: Prof. Dr. Sven Biscop, Egmont & Ghent University


Gunta Sloga, Executive director, Baltic Centre for Media Exellence, Riga

Janis Sarts, Director at the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, Riga

Mark Laity, Director, Communications Division, SHAPE

Marc Franco, Senior Associate Fellow, Egmont; former head of the Commission Delegation in Moscow

Silvio Gonzato,  Director for Strategic Communications, Parliamentary Affairs and Legal Affairs, EEAS


Recently the quest for finding an antidote to massive disinformation and propaganda campaigns, ranging from half-truths to open lies and manipulation, has become a holy grail for decision-makers, journalists, and academics across Europe and beyond. On numerous occasions both state and non-state actors have caught Western institutions and decision-making bodies by surprise and ill-prepared for the age of information warfare, which is being practiced on daily basis in traditional news platforms and the social media. Massive Russian disinformation campaigns in Ukraine in support of the annexation of Crimea; daily propaganda and fake-news across the EU and NATO’s Eastern flank and their neighbours, including the Western Balkans; seduction of young people via social media to lure them in nets of violent extremists; meddling in Western elections: these are just some of the recent most notable examples.

Although most nations across Europe have established national counter-measures, strengthened by grass-root civic initiatives and EU and NATO-wide strategies for defence against malign influences, the competition for people’s hearts and minds has not vanished, but become more intense.

This roundtable discussion will gather the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, the EEAS East Stratcom Task force, the NATO STRATCOM HQ, NATO StratCom COE, as well as representatives from academia to jointly discuss the question: Is Europe still losing the competition for our people’s hearts and minds? If yes, then what edge does the potential opponent have over European nations and citizens? If we are winning, then for how long, and what could we do more to strengthen our resilience? What role for strategic communications and closer EU – NATO cooperation?

The round table discussion is part of Latvia’s Centenary programme of public diplomacy, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia