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Small-State Influence in EU Security Governance: Unveiling Latvian Lobbying Against Disinformation

In this article, Sophie Vériter explores a small state’s influence on EU security governance, difficult enterprise for governments with limited means given the much broader resources of big states in this policy area.

Sophie Vériter
03 March 2024
Read the full article here

This article exposes how, as a first mover in a growing coalition of like-minded states, Latvia shaped the development of counter-disinformation policies in the EU, a field in which Latvia positioned itself as a prime mover, starting with the creation of the East StratCom Task Force (ESTF) in 2015. This has had a significant impact on the governance of disinformation, providing valuable lessons for the study of small states’ influence in the EU. The research focuses on one puzzling case study, EU counter-disinformation policies,  

Building on 30 interviews with policymakers, this case study demonstrates that utilising the Council Presidency can be a fruitful strategy for small states seeking to make a mark on EU security governance, with a plethora of examples as to how they can get other states and institutions on board, thereby securing long-lasting leverage. 

Several strategic manoeuvres explain how a small state like Latvia could achieve this. First, Latvia utilised the NATO StratCom Centre of Excellence it had opened in Riga to bolster its credibility amongst EU Member States, a clear case of inter-organisational legitimation. Second, Latvia used the Presidency of the Council to steer the agenda and spur compromise, gaining fundamental support from big states. Its status as a small state helped it steer the agenda whilst remaining seen as an honest broker. Third, it jumped onpublic momentum surrounding disinformation to push for measures, in coordination with representatives from its coalition in the Council, European Parliament and ESTF itself. 

Overall, EU counter-disinformation policies developed the way they did because of Latvia’s influence. It is undeniable that the policies it lobbied for at a crucial time in Europe’s history have been decisive for EU strategic communications and public awareness of propaganda. 

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