MEPs Allegedly Involved in UAE Smear Campaign: European Parliament Investigates

In a startling revelation, the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) published a report in July 2022, containing allegations of some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) allegedly participating in a smear campaign orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against its critics. While the AFET report refrained from naming specific MEPs involved, it did highlight that they belonged to various political parties, including the European People’s Party (EPP), the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), and the Greens, representing multiple countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy.

The AFET report cited “credible evidence” pointing to the UAE’s utilization of a network of European lobbyists and public relations (PR) firms to disseminate disinformation and defame its critics. Furthermore, it revealed that certain MEPs had unknowingly met with UAE representatives masquerading as human rights activists, raising concerns about possible manipulation and attempts to influence their stance on contentious issues.

Specific Allegations from the AFET Report:

Disinformation Campaign Through Lobbyists and PR Firms:

The report exposed the UAE’s alleged engagement of European lobbyists and PR firms to spread disinformation targeting its critics, including human rights activists and journalists. The campaign aimed to sway public opinion and manipulate narratives to benefit the UAE’s interests.

Influence on the Arms Embargo Decision:

 According to the AFET report, the UAE used these lobbyists and PR firms in an attempt to influence the European Parliament’s decision on whether to lift the arms embargo on the country. By employing sophisticated tactics, the UAE sought to shape policies in its favor.

MEPs Deceived by UAE Representatives:

The AFET report shed light on instances where MEPs were unknowingly “duped” into meeting with UAE representatives who posed as human rights activists. These meetings were allegedly leveraged by the UAE to apply pressure on MEPs, potentially seeking their support for the country’s position on the arms embargo.

Reacting to the report’s findings, the AFET report urgently called on the European Parliament to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations and implement measures to safeguard MEPs from becoming unwitting conduits for foreign disinformation campaigns. Moreover, the report urged the European Commission to scrutinize the UAE’s utilization of lobbying and PR firms within the EU, raising concerns about potential interference in European affairs.

While the UAE has firmly denied the allegations of a smear campaign, the AFET report has sparked significant apprehension about the country’s activities. The European Parliament has taken these allegations seriously, launching a comprehensive investigation to ascertain the veracity of the claims. If proven true, the implications could be far-reaching, potentially leading to disciplinary actions against implicated MEPs and prompting a broader evaluation of foreign influence within the EU.

As the investigation unfolds, the European Parliament remains steadfast in its commitment to upholding democratic principles, safeguarding the integrity of its members, and protecting the EU from any attempts to spread disinformation or undermine its sovereignty.

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