Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EU unveils plan for new security networks

  • Back ribbon on EU flag, to mark the Charlie Hebdo attack earlier this year (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

The European Commission launched a beefed-up security agenda on Tuesday (28 April), but many of the measures depend on whether member states are prepared to better co-operate in the traditionally sovereign areas of intelligence gathering and sharing.

The 21-page Agenda on security is meant to enhance government co-operation against terrorism, organised crime and cyber crime.

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

The issues, including preventing radicalization and extremism, have become a top priority following recent terrorist attacks in France and Denmark and a foiled plot in Belgium.

"The challenges are not new, but they have become more varied and complex. We need to do better. Our existing law enforcement tools and cooperation methods are not sufficient," commission vice-president Frans Timmermans told MEPs.

The security document notes "that member states have the front line responsibility for security", but adds they "can no longer succeed fully on their own".

"The European Agenda on security must be a shared agenda between the Union and member states. The result should be an EU area of internal security," says the document.

"For the first time, we proceed towards a comprehensive approach … with a vision to put together all the necessary tools and services," said migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos

The commission has set out a two-tier strategy, with closer co-ordination between EU agencies at one level and streamlined co-operation between member states through the EU agencies at another level.

According to the strategy the EU’s law enforcement agency (Europol), the judicial co-operation unit (Eurojust) and Frontex, the border control agency, will work more closely together.


A new European counter-terrorism centre will also be set up within Europol "to tackle foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing, violent extremist content online, and illicit trafficking of firearms".

Instead of a federal Europopl, the commission suggests a comprehensive network built around its agencies - “hubs” - where member states would bring data and expertise that other states could use when needed.

The agencies and national co-ordinators would serve as "one-stop shops" for member states.

Member states, for their part, are urged to improve their participation in tools such as the Schengen information system (about wanted and missing persons or objects), the Pruem system (DNA data, fingerprints and car-plate registers) or the Siena network (exchange of information).

The ECRIS (criminal records) and EPRIS (police record) systems should be updated and enhanced, as well as a new system on maritime surveillance data.

The commission is also calling for a quick introduction of the passenger name record (PNR) legislation - where the personal data of air passengers coming to and leaving the EU would be shared and stored. The law is currently blocked by the European Parliament over data protection concerns.

There are no incentives or sanctions to push members states to improve their participation in the different systems, however.

"There is no European security agency, but the spirit of the agenda is to answer the question of what is the added value of the European level," a source at the commission told EUobserver.

"We are here to help member states to co-operate and exchange information and help them with technical challenges," the source added.

Radicalisation

The commission also proposed new steps in the fight against radicalisation, which is often propagated on the Internet, and cybercrime.

An Internet referral unit will be established in Europol in July to bring expertise and technical support to countries faced with violent online content, while a centre will be set up to share anti-radicalisation practices.

The commission also plans to discuss encryption technologies and how to counter terrorist propaganda with IT companies and wants to work with third countries to block financing channels, stop arms and human trafficking or identify terrorists.

An existing €3.8 billion budget for security is to be used, as well as funds for research and development. The ideas are to be discussed by EU leaders in June.

Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election

Smer, Slovakia's ruling party, wants the country's media to give politicians a right-of-reply, or face stiff fines. Advocates of a free press are alarmed, and it poses a problem for the European Commission, whose vice-president is a Smer presidential candidate.

Orban rejects Weber's plea to stop anti-EU posters

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has pledged to put up new anti-migrant posters - despite hopes in his centre-right EU family that he might "apologise and put an end" to the campaign.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us