Monday

23rd Sep 2019

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.

News in Brief

  1. Barnier: Johnson's plan for Irish backstop unacceptable
  2. Google will only listen to audio if users give consent
  3. German bank fined for cheating Danish tax system
  4. Supreme Court ruling on Johnson on Tuesday
  5. 10 arrests over possible Catalonia anniversary attacks
  6. 53% of Europeans think LGTBI discrimination is widespread
  7. Doubt cast on new Maltese inquiry into slain reporter
  8. March by Slovak Catholics seeks abortion ban

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. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  2. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  4. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  8. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  10. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  11. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  12. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  6. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  7. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  10. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us