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Can ‘strategic communications’ expose fake news – and how?

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – “We all know the power of fake news, and how difficult it is to address,” says Frederica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief, “Knowing the threat is essential, but not enough.” She addressed her remarks to a 2 October conference here, entitled “Hybrid Threats and the EU: State of Play and Future Progress.” But what is a hybrid threat exactly? Daniel Fiott, security and defence editor at the Paris-based EU Institute for Security Studies, offered one definition riffed from Carl von Clausewitz. While the Prussian military theorist said that war is “politics by other means”, hybrid threats, according to Fiott, constitute “war by other means.” That inversion of Clausewitz’s aphorism, however, holds a special challenge for Western governments in that some of their counter-efforts inevitably risk…

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Impact of EU’s forthcoming defence fund riddled with unknowns

By BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – The rhetoric of EU and national leaders kow-tows incessantly to the vitality and importance of SMEs – small and medium sized enterprises – for Europe’s economic innovation and job-creating potential. Yet successful innovative SMEs in the EU that soar to become giants on the world stage are few and far between. There are a couple of Skype-type exceptions, but too many of Europe’s “garage” inventors who have a good idea, particularly in the digital field, head for the greener pastures of the USA where bureaucratic obstacles are lower, returns higher and venture capitalists more willing to take risks than their European counterparts. This points directly to the EU’s forthcoming European Defence Fund (EDF) and how it will generate high-tech results within the framework of PESCO, the permanent structured cooperation in defence that 23 EU member states (and counting) will set in motion in 2018. Such projects will necessarily have to draw in dual-use innovations from the commercial realm. A critical acid test for the defence fund will be to what extent it enables SMEs with interesting dual-use products in one PESCO country to...