DISINFO: EU countries' economies are on the brink of default, with over 20% unemployment rates
DISINFORMATION CASE DETAILS
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fake statistics European Union Economic difficulties

DISINFO: EU countries' economies are on the brink of default, with over 20% unemployment rates

SUMMARY

Some EU countries teeter on the brink of default and the levels of unemployment in some EU member states exceed 20%. At the same time Belarus, a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, is famous for its extremely low level of unemployment, clean and accurate towns and villages, the absence of oligarchs, lawlessness, arbitrariness of officials, and free from many other shortcomings of transit economies.

RESPONSE

This message contains ungrounded statements concerning the economic performance of the EU member states. It is consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative about the EU's imminent collapse. In May 2019, EU-28 unemployment stood at 6.3 %, the lowest level since the start of the EU monthly unemployment series in January 2000. The highest unemployment rates among EU countries in May 2019 were registered in Greece (18,1%) and Spain (13,6%). In the rest of the EU member states it was less than 10%, the lowest in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the Netherlands with 2,2%, 3,1% and 3,3%, respectively, according to Eurostat statistics. The authors is deliberately mixing up youth unemployment figures with overall rates. The registered unemployment rate in Belarus on 1 June 2019 was as low as 0,3%, as reported by the Belarusian Telegraph Agency. However, Belarus' official unemployment rate is a result of calculations rather than economic achievements. According to Belarusian legislation, the unemployed are the working age residents who are registered with the state employment agency. As the unemployment benefits in Belarus are very meagre, the unemployed are supposed to carry out public works as directed by the employment agency and as enterprises normally do not notify state agencies about better-paid vacancies, most of the unemployed choose not to undergo the registration procedure and therefore are not accounted in official statistics. Occasional surveys conducted in accordance with the International Labour Organisation’s methodology suggest that real unemployment rates in Belarus exceed 5%. The claim that economies of a number of EU countries face default is ungrounded. At present, no EU country has a credit rating low enough to justify that claim. In fact, the ranking shows that Belarus' credit rating is lower than any of the EU's member states and is much lower than the EU's. The EU as a whole enjoys a very high credit rating. It is rated AAA/Aaa/AAA/AAA (outlook stable) by Fitch, Moody’s, DBRS and Scope and AA (outlook stable) by Standard & Poor’s. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the current socio-economic situation of Poland is worse than in the communist times and that the EU countries face 'total unemployment'.

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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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