Friday

28th Jul 2017

Ashton hires Polish agent to beef up security

  • The EU Commission's Berlaymont building in Brussels: Ms Ashton currently works out of the commission headquarters, but the new EEAS building will need its own security shield (Photo: EUobserver)

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has hired a Polish secret service officer to be the main architect of internal security in the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The officer, whose name is being kept under wraps, was parachuted into Brussels from Warsaw to begin work on 1 June and is expected to stay in the EU capital until the end of the year.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

His job is to chair a new "working group" that will design security protocols for the diplomatic corps, concentrating on physical security of EEAS buildings in Brussels and communications systems with the EU's 136 foreign delegations.

The group, which meets once a week, also includes "15 or so" delegates from the commission, the EU Council, the Belgian EU presidency, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

"They are mostly diplomats, but not all of them," a contact in the EU institutions said. "They come from those member states who are the most interested in security. In setting this up, you need expertise and experience."

The EEAS, which is expected to start work in October or November, will handle classified documents.

The Council and commission already have detailed security protocols, but they are not water-tight. EU diplomats are fond of telling the anecdote how a Russian diplomat was once escorted from a meeting of the Political and Security Committee in the Council after wandering in "by mistake."

The Ashton group chairmanship is a mini-coup for Warsaw.

Some Polish politicians, such as centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, have in the past complained that "new" member states are not playing an important enough role in the fledgling EEAS. But the Polish administration has kept quiet about its EEAS security role because it wants to be a "reliable partner" for its EU peers.

Post-Communist and post-Soviet EU countries see themselves as experts on security matters after their experience in the Cold War.

China and Russia are both security threats in Brussels. But the exposure this week of 11 alleged Russian spies in the US, and the earlier case of Herman Simm, an Estonian official who passed EU and Nato papers to Moscow, have highlighted Russia's post-Cold-War spy effort.

Former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar, who helped organise a clean-out of KGB elements in Estonia's security structures in his two periods in office in the 1990s, said the US arrests and the Simm case are wake-up calls for Europe.

"We must learn that this is a reality. This is what Russia is for," he told EUobserver in an interview.

"You don't need big [counter-intelligence] services. Effective services can be quite small. But they must be clean themselves," he added, on the potential value of experts from ex-Iron-Curtain countries.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Corbyn re-opens Labour's single market wound
  2. Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue
  3. EU court could dismiss national borders in cyberspace
  4. Confusion swirls around Macron's Libya 'hotspots'
  5. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  6. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  7. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  8. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis