The ATHENA project launched in November 2023. This €3 million, three-year project represents a strategic response by the European Union to the escalating threat of foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI). With recent events, particularly the increase in cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns from Russia and China, ATHENA is more crucial than ever.

The project’s primary goal is to scrutinise at least 30 instances of FIMI, analysing the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by perpetrators. By understanding these methods, ATHENA aims to develop robust countermeasures and assess their societal impacts. The project’s innovative approach includes creating a disinformation analysis toolbox, a comprehensive knowledge graph, and a dynamic dashboard to monitor FIMI activities and counter-strategies.

ATHENA will also conduct a comparative legal and regulatory analysis of how eight EU Member States deal with FIMI and will identify areas where policy can be improved. The consortium will also develop an accessible questionnaire for public use, empowering individuals and citizens to identify encounters with FIMI in their own lives.

Engagement with stakeholders is a key component of the project. ATHENA will conduct interviews and workshops with a wide range of stakeholders, and will engage a Stakeholder Board to help guide the project. ATHENA’s commitment to knowledge-sharing and training extends to universities and schools, enhancing widespread awareness of FIMI and defense against it.

“The ATHENA project is not just a response to current threats but a proactive step towards a more secure digital future for Europe,” said Dr David Wright from Trilateral Research, coordinator of the project. Other partners in the consortium include Foundation for Research and Technology – Hellas (FORTH, Greece), the University of Cyprus (UCY), the Bavarian Police Academy (Germany), the Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE), Laurea University of Applied Sciences (Finland), Fundació Eurecat (Spain), Storyzy (France), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), the European Organisation for Security (Belgium), Maldita (Spain), EU DisinfoLab (Belgium) and University College Dublin (Ireland).

Funded by the European Union (grant number 101132686). UK participants in Horizon Europe Project ATHENA are supported by UKRI grant number 10107667 (Trilateral Research). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Research Executive Agency (REA) or UKRI. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority