Thursday

15th Nov 2018

EU intelligence agency not a priority

  • Police in Paris after 2015 terrorist killings (Photo: Reuters)

A European intelligence agency would take too long to set up and distract from the urgent work currently needed to tackle terrorism, said the European Commission.

Julian King, the EU commissioner for security, told reporters on Thursday (7 September) that terrorists won't wait for the removal of all the political and legislative barriers before such an agency could be established.

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

"I have to tackle the problems that we face right now. The terrorists are not waiting for us to review the treaties, they are not waiting for a constitutional discussion in Germany," he said.

Calls for an agency reappeared earlier this week when the EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said it would have helped prevent the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Belgium, France, Finland, Spain and the UK.

Similar calls for the creation of an EU intelligence agency have also been made by the leader of the European Parliament's liberal group (Alde), Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt.

But such plans are often seen as far-fetched given the secretive nature of national intelligence agencies and their reluctance to share information over broader fears it may get leaked, or disclose the sources.

Last year, a former agent at the EU's police agency, Europol, accidentally leaked some 700 pages of data on 54 different police investigations.

The EU has an intelligence analysis centre, known as Intcen, but is unable to gather its own intelligence. Most of its work is based on classified briefs, which it receives from a number of member states' national intelligence agencies.

Instead, King noted that the EU would continue to work on the broad range of policies already underway and prepare for "new objectives" set to be announced next week in commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's state of the union address.

The EU and authorities in member states have been grappling with spotty information sharing and, at times, failure to act on leads on people already known to the police.

US security services had, for instance, forewarned the Spanish authorities in May of pending attacks in Barcelona.

The US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) had said the Islamic State would carry out attacks in crowded tourist sites "specifically [Las Ramblas] street", where months later a man in a van then mowed down dozens of people.

At the EU level, it entails a massive push for making the EU databases on security, border, and migration management, interoperable.

Those plans kicked in following the aftermath of the Brussels terrorist attacks of March 2016, when EU officials spotted numerous issues with the databases.

The proposals now include creating a European search portal, a shared biometric matching service, and a common identity repository.

The shared biometric matching service is the finger print data held in all information systems and aims to make biometric data-searching possible across all of those systems in one search.

The common identity repository refers to core identity data for all of those systems, meaning the name, date of birth, or gender of anyone in the databases.

The EU agency that hosts the databases, the Tallinn-based eu-Lisa, is currently working on a two-phased study on setting up a shared biometric matching system.

The EU databases involved in the overhaul include the Schengen Information System, the Visa Information System, Eurodac, the proposed EU entry-exit system, the proposed European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), and the proposed European Criminal Records and Information System.

Spy agencies launch 'real-time' terror tracker

Intelligence agencies in Europe launched an "interactive operative real-time information system" in July to collect data on jihadist suspects, EUobserver has learned.

Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources

Romania's data protection authority is headed by Ancuta Gianina Opre, who in 2017 was charged with abuse of office in her previous job. Last week, she threatened a €20m fine against journalists in their effort to uncover corruption.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  2. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  3. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  4. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  5. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  6. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  7. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
  8. Full text of Brexit withdrawal agreement published

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  2. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  3. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  4. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  5. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  6. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot
  7. How the 'EU's Bank' fails to raise the bar on accountability
  8. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us