Belgium prime minister announces investigation into alleged Russia interference in EU elections News
© European Union, 2024, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Belgium prime minister announces investigation into alleged Russia interference in EU elections

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced in a press conference on Friday that Belgium has opened an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections.

The Prime Minister specified that the Belgian intelligence received information from Czech authorities that revealed pro-Russian activity in the EU involving several types of espionage networks. The Czech authorities allege that Moscow approached members of the European Parliament and offered them money to promote a pro-Russian agenda in Europe. De Croo went on to state that Russia did this to “help elect more pro-Russian candidates in the European Parliament and to enforce a pro-Russian narrative.”

Many EU countries have been at odds with Russia due to their strong support of Ukraine since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, providing financial, economic and military support. De Croo said that foreign interference can neither be accepted nor allowed in European countries, which is why action is needed both on the national level and EU level. He went don’t on to state that as a country that holds several EU institutions in addition to holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, Belgium has the responsibility to “uphold every citizen’s right to have his free and safe vote maintained.”

On the national level, de Croo declared that the alleged Russian interference in EU elections would be prosecuted by Belgian authorities, explaining that even if the cash payments did not take place in Belgium, the interference did.

On the EU level, the Belgian Prime Minister stated that the EU needs new tools to “fight Russian propaganda and disinformation.” According to de Croo, one of the steps that needs to be taken to address foreign interference is to reexamine the mandates of the members of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the mandates of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). He went on to say that if the current mandate of both organizations cannot address this kind of threat, “we should broaden the mandate to provide the authorities with the right tools” to confront activities that threaten European democracy.

De Croo ended his remarks, saying that EU officials “must remain very vigilant related to the upcoming elections and any European election happening in the future,” adding that “Belgium is fully committed to work hand in hand with European countries to build a strong and more resilient European Union.”

European elections are scheduled for June 6, 2024, when European citizens will elect new members of the European Parliament for the next five years.