A number of PSRM-affiliated publications have written that Spain wants to leave the European Union. This reinforces the metanarrative on the imminent collapse of the EU, designed to distort European realities and fuel distrust in the community bloc and its institutions.
NEWS: “Spain has threatened to leave the European Union. Madrid authorities are disgruntled with the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) signed in 1994, a document created to safeguard cross-border energy cooperation. Spain believes its provisions are hindering efforts to protect the environment, and has suggested reforming the ECT by introducing certain regulations for energy companies in order to determine them to curb their carbon-gas emissions. The amendments are due for discussion in March. France has expressed its support for Spain, while Hungary and Slovakia have argued against this move”.
KEY NARRATIVES: The European Union is falling apart.
BACKGROUND: These disinformation campaigns are being instrumented by Moscow, seeking to fuel Euroscepticism and undermine the European Union and Western values, as well as EU enlargement prospects. A Europe facing difficulties, an EU abandoned by member states, holds little appeal for other countries aspiring to join the European community, and no longer represents a model worthy to pursue. Nothing about this is random, considering there were certain ties between the “leave” camp and Moscow. Pundits say Brexit could spark a domino effect, with Fexit, Nexit of Swexit as the pieces in the European construct next in line to fall. Yet the effect of Great Britain’s withdrawal from the EU exceeded even the worst-case expectations of Eurosceptics, and support for the EU actually went up across the continent.
A more pressing priority for the Russian Federation, rather than undermining the EU or triggering its demise, is to put a stop to EU enlargement. The crisis in Ukraine broke out as the former president, Viktor Yanukovych, refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, caving in to Moscow’s pressure. The annexation of Crimea and the ensuing conflicts in the Donbass region followed the rise to power of pro-European forces in Kiev. EU association is just a preliminary step and in no way guarantees the subsequent accession to the community bloc.
Moldovan society, on the other hand, remains divided in terms of political sympathies, half siding with the pro-European camp, while the other half seeking closer ties with Moscow. The Russian Federation has been undermining Chişinău’s every attempt at drawing closer to Brussels, from spreading fake news and launching smear campaigns against pro-Western supporters, to passing sanctions and economic embargos on Moldovan exports.
PURPOSE: The narrative seeks to depict the EU as an organization on the brink of collapse, whose member states are unable to reach consensus or compromise. It also boosts mistrust for the EU and its institutions.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Spain didn’t even bring up a possible withdrawal from the European Union, but simply threatened to walk out of the energy pact. The Energy Charter Treaty is an international agreement, signed by individual EU Member States. This is not an internal EU treaty, but a multilateral agreement setting the framework for long-term cross-border cooperation in the field of energy and regulating investments and trade in energy products. At present, the Treaty has 55 members (the EU only has 27 Member States), in addition to 52 countries and international organizations with observers status. Even Russia signed the Charter in 1991 and the Treaty in 1994. And since the energy market has changed considerably since 1994 and is expected to continue at an accelerated pace, considering the EU has kicked off a process to steer towards green economy, the European Commission wants to renegotiate the terms of the Treaty. The dispute with Spain has to do with reaching EU-wide consensus over the revamp of the treaty, as the European Union is a separate signatory to the Treaty.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: Spain warned it might withdraw from the ECT unless it is quickly brought in line with the EU’s “green” ambitions.