The European Parliament is to spend almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” with whom to debate in the run-up and during euro-elections next year amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing.
The Daily Telegraph has seen confidential spending proposals and internal documents planning an unprecedented propaganda blitz ahead of and during European elections in June 2014.
Key to a new strategy will be “public opinion monitoring tools” to “identify at an early stage whether debates of political nature among followers in social media and blogs have the potential to attract media and citizens’ interest”.
Spending on “qualitative media analysis” is to be increased by £1.7 million and while most of the money is to be found in existing budgets an additional £787,000 will be need to be raised next year despite calls for EU spending to reflect national austerity.
“Particular attention needs to be paid to the countries that have experienced a surge in Euroscepticism,” said a confidential document agreed last year.
“Parliament’s institutional communicators must have the ability to monitor public conversation and sentiment on the ground and in real time, to understand ‘trending topics’ and have the capacity to react quickly, in a targeted and relevant manner, to join in and influence the conversation, for example, by providing facts and figures to deconstructing myths.”