An Easy Target

November 30, 2022

By Jeremy Druker


Over the past few years, and especially since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, disinformation actors have found the EU's Green Deal great fodder for malign narratives.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, insecurities in European society have grown and the European Green Deal [1] has become a prime target for disinformation as well as a proxy for the communication of anti-EU or pro-Russian narratives. These actors stoke a diverse variety of sometimes competing concerns among their audiences from climate change, energy security, and financial worries to Brussel's incursions into individual member states and rising economic disparity benefiting certain countries. Ultimately the prevalence of such information stymies balanced and informed discussion of this complex subject and serves to undermine EU integrity and cohesion. The sometimes overwhelming presence of these narratives also succeeds in muddling discussions on energy independence and security that have risen to the forefront of European policy-making and public awareness in the wake of the invasion.    

With that current reality in mind, IRI’s Beacon project is leading an initiative of six partner organizations to monitor how the European Green Deal is perceived in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. From July until September, the partners reviewed the top 100 most-interacted-with posts monthly discussing Green Deal policies based on the number of interactions on Facebook (shares, comments, and likes). This monitoring has helped to identify the main drivers of the debate and attitudes in this online space toward the Green Deal, the European Union, and climate change more generally. Researchers used CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool that helps track engagement and other metrics on the platform. 

The partner organizations are the Center for Propaganda and Disinformation Analysis (Poland), Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic), Europeum (Czech Republic), (Slovakia), 45North (Romania), and the Center for the Study of Democracy (Bulgaria). 

Key takeaways

  • As has been observed in the past with other major topics of discussion in the region's disinformation networks, attacks on the Green Deal have often been combined with wider assaults on the European Union, United States, global elites, and similar targets.


For example, Slovak monitors observed claims that the Green Deal serves wealthy people, the financial elite, and profit-seeking companies at large because consumers’ electricity bills fund the revenues of green energy producers. In this way, the Green Deal is portrayed as just another instrument of the so-called Brussels dictatorship, which allegedly promotes “climate fascism.”  In Bulgaria, posts about the Green Deal were predominantly critical toward the European Union when mentioning the EU, with positive sentiments present in posts accounting for just 7% of all interactions. 

  • The overall discourse on energy and sanctions against Russia has been directed toward de-legitimizing the European Union and its green measures. It has also been aimed at justifying Russia's actions and presenting the country as a dependable energy partner.


Not surprisingly, across the five monitored countries, pro-Russian actors have been among the most prominent to attribute the energy crisis to the "green ideology" of the European Union, disowning Russia of any guilt for the current situation. Russia's role in launching an unprovoked war and the Kremlin's weaponization of gas supplies by increasing prices or cutting off access have been largely ignored or even contradicted. 

For example, pro-Russian actors in Slovakia, from opposition politicians to the disinformation media, have tried to shift the blame to the West, specifically to the European Union. They portray Russia as a rational and reliable partner while criticizing, downplaying, or sarcastically mocking the EU's actions. And they argue that sanctions against Russia have been ineffective, without any significant impact on Russia, and cause more damage to the countries that impose them than to Russia.

  • In some countries, the Green Deal and the EU’s climate policy in general have been used as a major weapon in d0mestic political battles. 


This has been most prominent in Poland, where the Facebook debate has moved from neutral or supportive about the Green Deal to open criticism of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) for its energy policy. The most radical statements about the Green Deal have actually come from politicians who represent PiS or the coalition. Critics have accused PiS of supporting the EU's climate policy, of submitting to the EU, and starting the liquidation of mining in Poland.

In the Czech Republic, using the Green Deal as alleged proof of the government’s incompetence and negligence of national interests was a frequent political narrative used especially in the leadup to municipal and Senate elections in September. During the height of the pre-election campaign, the discourse around the Green Deal became very "solution-oriented," in the sense that abandoning the Green Deal was suggested as the solution to the current crisis. Calls were made for an independent Czech energy market – however, not so as to be free from the dangers of being dependent on Russian gas, but from the European Union and the EU energy market. In this context, praise was heaped on other V4 countries and their crisis measures, especially Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ban on energy exports.

In Bulgaria,  conservative and/or Russia-leaning parties deployed the most popular posts on the Green Deal as discursive tools aimed against both their domestic political rivals and against the EU and the wider Euro-Atlantic community.

  • With disinformation networks now adopting the Green Deal as an easy target, attacks on the initiative have become an excellent marker to identify new potentially harmful disinformation sources. 


The Romanian team, for example, noted many new sources with a large number of followers that spread a wide range of disinformation narratives – some of them potentially connected to AUR, a relatively popular far-right party. At least three websites that were founded in the last two-three years, with no transparency regarding ownership, constantly promote malign narratives that are in line with the AUR’s talking points. The team also found that Facebook pages and groups with other profiles (mostly pseudo-science, astrology, or ultraorthodox Christianity) can and do act as a platform to spread malign narratives. 

  • The non-action of governing parties and other groups leaves open the opportunity for malign actors to fill the space. 


In Slovakia, monitors noted the lack of interest among political leaders, either at the national or European level – among members of the European Parliament, only one had posted on the Green Deal, for example. With the limited involvement of not only political circles, but also other actors – such as representatives of local government, business, or academia – right-wing and far-right players have dominated the debate so far. The same has been true in the Czech Republic, where approximately 80% of the 100 most-interacted-with posts about the Green Deal spread manipulative information or disinformation about the initiative. The majority of the most active Czech sources were politicians, specifically members of the right-wing, national-conservative, and Eurosceptic political parties. And in Romania, each month, a majority sometimes a vast majority of the total interactions with the monitored posts were associated with potentially harmful sources (such as disinformation networks).

Given the ability of pro-Russian, anti-EU forces to dominate the Facebook debate in some countries around the Green Deal, and effectively smear the West in general for its “green ideology,” monitors noted the importance of other actors to step in and fill the gap. In particular, state institutions should prepare tools that may be used in several scenarios, to prevent and react to potential disinformation or conspiracy narratives. If the authorities, – as well as others including academic, civil society, and the media – remain reluctant to communicate much on the topic, the debate will continue to be narrow, reducing trust in the EU and its energy policies, especially as winter approaches. 

Read all country reports from Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria here:



  Read more articles written on the topic of the European Green Deal here





[1] The European Green Deal is a set of policies launched by the European Commission in December 2019 as a part of the European Union’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. The measures proposed aim to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030 while creating new opportunities for innovations, investments, and jobs.