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Estonia EU Presidency: EU must strengthen strategic communication capability

At today’s Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) meeting in Brussels, the foreign ministers discussed ways of strengthening the EU’s strategic communication, and Foreign Minister Sven Mikser stressed the need for ensuring permanent funding to the European External Action Service’s strategic communication task forces.

“In today’s world, we should not underestimate the importance of strategic communication, and I am glad that we are finally discussing the topic on the ministerial level as well,” said Minister Mikser, adding that strategic communication served the EU’s broader goals and was both an opportunity and a challenge. “On one hand, we have to deal with exposing misinformation and fake news and media education, but on the other hand, the EU itself has to have a higher profile. We have to tell our own positive story, and make sure that narrative reaches people both inside the EU and in our neighbourhood,” he emphasised.

The EU’s strategic communication task forces serve on the eastern, southern and Western Balkans areas. “Estonia was among the first to raise the issue of strategic communication at the EU table. We are very pleased with the work of East StratCom Task Force, where we contribute a national expert, but certainly all of the task forces are in equal need of strengthening,” said Minister Mikser. “The European Union must find ways for providing permanent funding for the task forces’ operations,” he said.

Minister Mikser expressed a desire to include a regular strategic communication topic at the FAC: “I hope we will come back to this topic as early as the first half of 2018,” he said.

The need for strategic communication efforts in the EU was first raised in 2015 by the Estonian, Danish, Latvian and British foreign ministers. The guidelines issued on the basis of the European Council conclusions of March 2015 provided a mandate for establishing the European External Action Service’s East StratCom Task Force. Estonia’s representative in the work of East StratCom is the expert Anneli Kimber. In 2017, the EEAS decided to set up two new directions – EEAS StratCom Western-Balkans Task Force and EEAS StratCom South.

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