Friday

20th Sep 2019

EU should create own spy agency, Reding says

  • Reding: spoke off the cuff to Greek paper on the NSA scandal (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has said the Union should create its own intelligence service by 2020.

Speaking on Monday (4 November) to Greek daily Naftemporiki on the US snooping scandal, she said: "What we need is to strengthen Europe in this field, so we can level the playing field with our US partners."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

She added: "I would therefore wish to use this occasion to negotiate an agreement on stronger secret service co-operation among the EU member states - so that we can speak with a strong common voice to the US. The NSA needs a counterweight. My long-term proposal would therefore be to set up a European Intelligence Service by 2020."

Revelations by US leaker Edward Snowden say America's National Security Agency (NSA) intercepts millions of Europeans' emails and phone calls.

It is also said to spy on 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

EU countries' intelligence services already co-operate to an extent.

They share classified information on conflicts and terrorist threats in IntCen, a branch of the EU foreign service.

Counter-terrorism specialists also meet in the so-called CP931 working group in the EU Council.

Outside EU structures, European intelligence chiefs meet in what they call the Club de Berne and in a Club de Berne offshoot, the Counter Terrorism Group.

In terms of the EU's own intelligence gathering, IntCen posts staff to non-EU countries on research trips. But they do it with the agreement of the host state.

The EU foreign service gets updates from its 13 civilian and military crisis missions, such as Eulex in Kosovo or EUTM in Mali.

It has 40-or-so Regional Security Officers, who file reports from EU embassies in risky places, such as Lebanon or Libya. It is also hiring EU countries' experts as military attaches in a handful of delegations.

None of it is comparable to an offensive foreign intelligence service, such as the UK's MI6 or France's DGSE, however.

An EU official told EUobserver that Reding spoke off the cuff in Naftemporiki and has not discussed her idea with fellow commissioners.

The official noted that creating a European Intelligence Service would need an EU treaty change and that Reding's notion, if it is taken up, would have to be dealt with after EU elections in 2014.

The idea already came up in 2004.

Austria and Belgium at the time proposed creating an EU intelligence service in reaction to the Madrid train bombings, which killed almost 200 people.

Their proposal fell on deaf ears in France, Germany and the UK.

Austria still has an appetite for it.

Its counter-terrorism chief, Peter Gridling, told a European Parliament hearing in 2011: "It is time to ask ourselves this question: 'Is it realistic to start thinking about a future EU intelligence service?' I think it's realistic."

But there is no sign that large EU states hold different views now than 10 years ago.

Merkel to seek intelligence rule book with US

France and Germany plan to negotiate an agreement on the work of intelligence agencies with the US, as the latest revelations of US snooping dominated day one of the EU's October summit.

News in Brief

  1. Austria to veto EU trade deal with South America
  2. Brexit minister asks EU for 'flexibility' to secure a deal
  3. Kovesi has 'sufficient majority' for prosecutor post
  4. France, Finland give UK ultimatum for Brexit plan
  5. Minsk talks bode ill for EU's peace summit on Ukraine
  6. Poll: Poland's nationalist rulers to win October election
  7. Irish lawyers clash with EU commission in Apple case
  8. NGOs take aim at EU smartphone pollution

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  2. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  3. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  4. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  5. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  6. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'
  7. A new Commission for the one percent
  8. Juncker: No-deal Brexit 'palpable'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us