20 Mar 2019

Disinformation and propaganda

Impact on the functioning of the rule of law in the EU and its Member States

Judit Bayer / Natalija Bitiukova / Petra Bárd / Judit Szakács / Alberto Alemanno / Erik Uszkiewicz / Sergio Carrera / Lina Vosyliute / Julia Guérin


This study examines the causes and impact of disinformation and propaganda on democracy, human rights and the rule of law within the European Union. It analyses how new technology has transformed the operation and structure of the democratic public sphere in general, and in particular explores the recently experienced events of disinformation and propaganda campaigns in the light of interference with democratic processes through the manipulation of public opinion, as well as the international and national legislative and self-regulatory initiatives.

Commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs and requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the study considers disinformation and propaganda as symptoms of deeper structural problems in our societies and media environments. Rather than targeting the content itself, the vulnerabilities that these narratives exploit should be identified and addressed. The study puts forward recommendations that are divided into two sections: strengthening democratic resilience and adapting media policy. The first section includes imminent actions relating to the coming European Parliament elections, regulation of political and public issue advertising, data protection, civic education, mainstreaming science in policymaking and further research. The second section explores the issues of trust in the media and the obligations of platform providers.

Initially published by EP Think Tank, the study can be accessed here.

CEPS is grateful for the opportunity to promote this very timely and relevant study in light of the upcoming EP elections. 


  • Judit Bayer (scientific coordinator, editor), Budapest Business School
  • Natalija Bitiukova, Independent consultant
  • Petra Bárd, Central European University
  • Judit Szakács, Center for Media, Data and Society at the Central European University
  • Alberto Alemanno, HEC Paris
  • Erik Uszkiewicz, Hungarian Europe Society


  • Sergio Carrera, CEPS/ European University Institute/ Science Po/ Maastricht, contributed with comments and providing inputs to the Study.
  • Julia Guérin, CEPS
  • Lina Vosyliute, CEPS

The authors are grateful to Kristina Irion and Éva Simon, as well as the other reviewers, for their valuable comments and ideas related to our paper. The authors and contributors would also like to thank Marion SCHMID-DRÜNER, Research Administrator  Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs for her guidance and oversight.

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