Just when you think you have heard it all!

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 January, 2024 at 10:49 am by Andre Camilleri

Last week I wrote an article about the level of details that must be reported in the coming years according to what is being proposed under the CSDDD. Some readers texted me to further explain the implications on the businesses and the exact reporting details that must be followed through such directive.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Věra Jourová, Vice-President of the European Commission, as well as her boss President Ursula von der Leyen were in Davos addressing the World Economic Forum. Let’s leave the informality between President von der Leyen and Professor Klaus Schwab, aside. When I listened to the entire address, I literally cringed in my seat. Technically, the vice president and the president of the European Commission are either referring to people as dumb, or there is something sinister going on. Jourová outlined that the rise of disinformation is a security threat and complained about the upsurge of disinformation.

True, disinformation is obviously untoward to democracy. However, we all have a brain, and we are all able to verify facts. Notwithstanding that the EU is right in focusing on improving the system, where people get their facts right, however, it is up to the citizens to decide which news outlets they watch and which information they want to filter. Hence, disinformation is not countered by closing news outlets and dictate what people must watch in the EU. That is exactly what happens in China. And here, Vice President  Jourová paid a lot of attention on how to frame it and the narrative used. The sophistry of the language used is to get facts right rather than closing media and sanctioning other media outlets. However, disinformation is countered by providing additional information without sanctioning other channels or news outlets. At least that is what democracy dictates, and Vice President Jourová is correct.

In truth, there are also certain segments of the media that do not report correct information. Personally, I do not want to know certain information and reporting that comes out of western media outlets. I saw reports about politicians, including acquaintances, that were untrue. To me, this is also part of a disinformation campaign. However, the good thing is that they did not appeal to sanction any media outlet. What we need here is a right of reply. Today, we have social media platforms, and we can responsibly reply to any media outlet at any time we want. In the past, we had to accept the reporting of certain media outlets fait accompli without even questioning it or even having the opportunity to a right of reply.

During her speech, President von der Leyen focused on the Global Risk Report. Apparently, the top concern for the global business community, especially in the coming two years, is not conflict or climate anymore. I beg  your pardon. Do you sincerely want us to believe that conflict and climate change are  not top priorities, anymore? Is this a kind of a smokescreen to cover for some mistakes? So why are we expediting the process of the CSRD, Taxonomy, CSDDD and Pillar 3 disclosures and extending the EU ETS to the maritime industry? And why are we arming Ukraine to resist Russia? So why did you rush to Israel back in October 2023? And why is the ECB pushing to implement climate change policies more than following its mandate of price stability? Do you really want us to take you for real?

Additionally, the president of the European Commission outlined that global cooperation is needed to mitigate the spread of disinformation. Frankly, the EU Digital Services Act mustn’t be used as a pretext to control social media. It must be used to prevent abusive language, including hate speech. It must filter and control information that is considered criminal under EU law. However, my intuition tells me that President von der Leyen’s only concern is to pre-empt the Republicans from being elected. You must read between the lines of the speech. What was mentioned is disinformation and control of what is passed through the social media by mentioning that 2024 is an important electoral year. True, 2024 is not just an important electoral year for Europeans but also for the United States, which means, that if the Republicans are elected, the EU would be left on its own to deal with the war in Ukraine. And who are we to blame?

Furthermore, President von der Leyen stated that freedom comes with risks. Well, everything comes with a risk. Even walking on a pavement comes with a risk, nowadays. However, the level of controls that are being used, are tantamount to controlling people’s and businesses lives. This is growing out of proportion. The scalability is truly chilling. Those who have been following me throughout the past two years, know, and know well that I am a supporter of Keynesian economics. However, my support for Keynesian economics is only for governments to interfere in the market in bad times, to primarily counter unemployment, and short-circuit the economy by increasing government spending. The idea of interfering in the market is to create employment and promote economic stability. However, the way the EU is interfering in the markets is actually disturbing and goes well beyond prices.

As I had the opportunity to write in preceding articles, we all long to live in a better Europe, promoting a cleaner environment and safeguarding human rights. But here we have a situation, where the level of information requested is truly becoming worrying. We are actually witnessing the opposite of EU’s founding principles. And those whinging about the voluntary participation of last week’s government initiative on food price stability, logically, they must analyse what is happening when it comes to calculating carbon emissions attached to any product and its exclusion from the market. Today, market interference is beyond market prices. Products and services are being excluded, in what we call in rudimentary economics, other factors affecting demand and supply.

So, while Ursula von der Leyen is worried about the surge in disinformation campaigns, that could lead to abysmal electoral results and injuring her seat, we have to bear listening to new narratives designed to send a global signal to control the social media beyond the EU’s Digital Services Act. It is truly the case, of, when you think you have heard it all!

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