Action Plan against Russia

BRUSSELS |

BRUSSELS german-foreign-policy.com documents excerpts from the "Action Plan on Strategic Communication" which EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, presented on June 22, 2015.

ACTION PLAN ON STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION

1. Context

The use of communication tools has played an important role in the dramatic political, economic and security related developments that have affected the EU's eastern neighbourhood over the past year and a half. This has been recognized by the European Council that, in its conclusions of 20 March 2015, "stressed the need to challenge Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns and invited the High Representative, in cooperation with Member States and EU institutions, to prepare by June an action plan on strategic communication."

The European Council further referred to the "establishment of a communication team" as "a first step in this regard". A start-up team (East StratCom Team) has now been established (see point 5.a) This Action Plan has been developed by the East StratComTeam in cooperation with the EU institutions and Member States. It outlines the measures foreseen in relation to EU Strategic Communication on issues related to the Eastern neighbourhood and beyond, as well as wider EU efforts in support of media freedom and strengthening of the overall media environment. The East StratCom Team will maintain an overall coordinating and monitoring role in relation to its implementation.

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5. Key areas for action

a) Increase EU Strategic Communication capacity

In line with European Council conclusions of March 2015, a start-up team has been established within the EEAS, with contributions from EU institutions. The Team will also include experts from EU Member States, and is expected to reach full capacity by 1 September 2015. The work of the team is focused on proactive communication of EU policies and activities in the Eastern neighbourhood and beyond. In particular the Stratcom Team will develop dedicated communication material on priority issues, where EU strategic communication needs to be improved or the EU is subject to disinformation campaigns. Such products will be put at the disposal of the EU's political leadership, press services, EU delegations and EU Member States. The Team will develop communication campaigns targeting key audiences and focused on specific issues of relevance to those audiences, including local issues. The actions of the East Stratcom Team will build on existing work and will be coherent with wider EU communication efforts, including activities of the EU institutions and EU Member States.

b) Work with partners and development of networks

The development of effective networks of communicators will be key to maximising and amplifying the impact and effectiveness of the communication activities undertaken by the East Stratcom Team. Networks should provide a platform for relevant stakeholders to exchange products and ideas, to amplify communication messages, and to coordinate their activities. EU level networks will aim to improve the overall coherence and coordination of EU messaging in relation to the Eastern Neighbourhood. Networks will be built incrementally so as to include key communicators in the EU institutions and delegations, EU Member States, like-minded third countries, regional and international organizations, and partner country administrations. In parallel, networks of journalists and media representatives will be developed with a view to better communicating EU policies and supporting independent media in the region. Contacts will also be maintained with civil society actors.

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e) Public Diplomacy Initiatives in the neighbourhood

The EU will engage with local populations - including young people, members of academia and civil society - via longer term public diplomacy initiatives aimed at exposing target audiences to the EU, explaining EU policies, promoting dialogue, and ensuring that citizens are generally well informed about the EU. Specific support is foreseen under the Partnership Instrument and the Jean Monnet programme, as well as ongoing support for Erasmus Plus.

f) Capacity building for journalists and media actors

The EU will support targeted training and capacity building of journalists and media actors in the region, notably via the OPEN neighbourhood communication programme which will run from 2015-2019. This programme will build on experience of the previous programme, and will include opportunities for placements with EU based media to facilitate exchange of best practice. The EU will consider how best it can support training for journalists experiencing conflict situations, to better enable them to report on issues of relevance to local populations. Coordination with key partners and Member States in relation to their training and capacity-building efforts will be ensured through dedicated networks and coordination by EU delegations on the ground. The EU will also consider how best it can support the development of a network of journalists throughout the region to exchange information, encourage best practice, and act as advocates for local reform efforts.

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