Was it a joke when MEPs backed a motion to boost EU’s fake news?

Martin Jay
Martin Jay is a veteran foreign correspondent now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as Deutsche Welle TV. Previously he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay
The building of the European Parliament in Strasbourg © Vincent Kessler
The EU’s own parliament has blasted Russia and its media, but should we take it seriously? Not content with subsidizing the production costs of the European media in Brussels, some MEPs now want to pay journalists to sex up the EU. You couldn’t make it up.

It’s often said that Brussels, or indeed the EU, is an irony-free zone. But MEPs thist week surely must have been having a laugh when they backed a report that blasted Russian “propaganda” as the new threat to destabilizing the EU – and which needs to be tackled head on. And their answer? To produce even more fake news from the EU itself, to clog up the airwaves and fill the internet with, of course!

You can’t make this stuff up. The EU’s own people, who can’t admit that their own political crisis is of their own making after years of taking more power away from its own citizens and building an authoritarian state, have finally concluded that it was all Russia’s fault.

Yep. Don’t be fooled into thinking the EU single market, which has almost no growth, is part of its demise or even eurozone bailouts of failed economies, not to mention unemployment in some EU countries breaking new records. And let’s not even get on to Brexit.

The EU’s own serfs have discovered what is really at fault with the European Union project. They have concluded that it is all Russia’s fault and what’s more, EU leaders need to bundle the Russians in with ISIS.

Someone needs to call the White House and tell the Americans. Just hilarious. Only the evil Russian empire could have created the division in the EU’s vision of a super state and produced all-time record low voter turnouts in European elections and an EU more divided today than it has ever been. When I was in Brussels between 1995 and 2006, the talk in the Commission was very much about how the expansion of the EU would counteract the ‘Franco-German’ axis. Now, the crashing euro (post-2008) and the collapse of a cluster of eurozone countries has now placed Germany as its sole leader.

But its economy is floundering, its political apparatus shaking and growing numbers of its voters disenfranchised by an elite in Brussels who have an unfettered contempt for democracy and what people say and want, that it would shame most African despots.

Russia is now the new scapegoat. It’s a stunning, bold move, which with the right amount of paid propaganda, might even just work. Europeans might believe that if they continue to question their own media outlets whose correspondents in Brussels are setting a new world standard in fake news.

Yet who is leading this new charge? Where is this new idea coming from? Why the European Parliament itself and from a rejected politico from Poland who had to get a job as an MEP as that was all that was left in the jobs-for-the-boys carve up after she left her office as foreign minister.

It’s an extraordinary irony of the EU, which is seldom mentioned: Oftentimes the very people who champion the cause of the EU and sing its merits as a democracy, a ‘new way’ if you like, are often politicians who have been kicked out of their own democratic institutions back home and have to come to Brussels. You get voted out of a democratic system only to be welcomed with open arms by an institution in Brussels which doesn’t listen to voters anyway, so can’t vote you out of an EU gravy train job.

Of course, there is another irony in that the EU has trashed its own rhetoric on free speech as well, reveling in its own double standards.

Anyway, back to the European Parliament, a democratic institution which is hailed a beacon of democracy, free speech, and accountability for the rest of the world to look up to, right?

Not quite. This institution, to those of us who worked in Brussels, is a joke and is not even taken seriously by the EU’s own leading figures. The European Parliament is a sort of a fake assembly which has no real accountability to its own citizens, is more or less in the pocket of powerful multinational conglomerates (many which are not even European) and is such a fraud in so many ways, that it doesn’t even have the power to propose legislation, one of the tenets of any democratic assembly, many would argue.

It is about as democratic as the terror organizations that it so assiduously deplores. It is to democracy what a selfie stick is to Renaissance art, or what Ryanair is to luxury travel. In fact, you couldn’t imagine an assembly further away from the core of democracy as the parliament in Brussels. Or Strasbourg, Or Luxembourg. Yes, it has three buildings, for political reasons, which costs hundreds of millions of euros to keep going as a ‘circus’ of traveling MEPs, their assistants, as the parliament staff get ferried about every three weeks, to keep this bureaucratic Disneyland going.

It is basically a fake parliament created by the architects of the EU who realized that they had probably gone too far in giving the real power to the European Commission and needed to create an illusion of democracy. Put simply, the EU parliament is there to rubber stamp legislation which has been drafted by the Commission, reworked in detail by industry so that medium-sized firms get pushed out of the market by the costs of the new legislation and to give the gullible public the view that the EU is a democracy.

But the EU is anything but a democracy. And it is times like this week when we see this with the comical assault on Russia.

Why do MEPs and the EU have such a loathing of Russian media? Simply because it is not in their pockets. The very institution which is slamming Russian media – the EU parliament – pays out, along with the Commission, I would guess at least €20 million a year on subsidizing European media camped in Brussels. And this is what the MEP, who appears by her own Wikipedia page to be a former paramour of Lech Kaczyński, is arguing for: more money to our own journalists.

The demonization of Russia was entirely predictable. I can testify that as a Brussels hack not part of the establishment I was hated and loathed and every opportunity EU officials had to prevent me from having access to information was exercised.

On a much larger scale, this is what is going on in Brussels now, as it is in Washington against Russian media. The Polish MEP report isn’t serious. But its war cry is a precedent. I have no doubt that someone very powerful in the European Commission had briefed her secretly in how to write it, as this, sadly is how Brussels works.

The parliament and its incumbents are considered like sex workers in a brothel, by those who really control the EU, an unfortunate simile given that most middle-aged men often say they feel as though they have died and woken up in heaven when they sit in the ‘Mickey Mouse’ bar in the European Parliament in Brussels and feast their eyes on the scrum of fit, young women in mini skirts and push up bras who tirelessly serve MEPs as ‘assistants’, sometimes working all hours.

This is the European Parliament. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.

But the EU is feeding the fake news plethora more and more each day. And this motion is a call for more money and resources to be spent on more media coverage through the ingenious system the EU has crafted. Create events around the world and offer media agencies free flights, hotel, and food to cover it, plus of course free production costs, editing and satellite feeds.

Recently the firebrand RT reporter Anissa Naouai slammed shoddy news outfits in the US for almost blitzing the airwaves with fake news during the US election – making what a bunch of kids in Macedonia who created entirely fake news on Facebook look like child's play in comparison. Fake news in the West by mainstream media has historically created a hell on earth with just one example – The Gulf War – changing history and allowing ISIS to expand and establish itself. Journalist David Rose admitted to award-winning journalist John Pilger in an interview “if we journalists had done our job probably, there would be no Gulf War.”

This is what the EU wants to do, and it has the money and the journalists to do it. But calm down. It’s only the European Parliament, an institution which has a members bar named after a Walt Disney character and an attitude toward journalists which would make Robert Mugabe blush in a town where there is no such thing as a ‘free press.' Journalists in Brussels come at a price in EuroDisney.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.