Since several years, the European diplomatic service (European Extermal Action Service, EEAS) disposes of a small intelligence service unit, where less tan 100 people work, called INTCEN. It is jealously „supervised“ by national governments. These are not the „European spies“, and there is no James Bond smell in the air, anyway. The studies made are sometimes questioned, and there is a lot work done on the basis of open sources (which is indispensable for intelligence Services, too). The work of INTCEN is hardly discussed, and the work which could be done by them not either.
However, the terrorist events since mid-November 2015 in Paris, and elsewhere, brought a new push to these discussions. The ALDE chairman in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, pleaded in the meantime for a European Intelligence Service, and some Member States‘ ministers of interior pleaded, for evident reasons, for a closer cooperation between the EU intelligence services. This is indeed necessary – only a minority of services has effectuated a necessary information exchange about possible terrorists by the end of the year, which had been approved on governments‘ level.
What we need in the European Union, is a real military and extremist-oriented Intelligence Service, in addition – and in cooperation with – all the national services. A permanent informaton exchange, in the sense of a two-way traffic, has to be anchored legally, in order to have it at all. The same also for a parliamentary supervision, for which a special committee of the European Parliament should be created, based on the experience of some Member States. Art. 42-47 Treaty of the European Union(TEU) allow this, in my provisional legal opinion, even without treaty changes; art. 42 (6) allowing also activities of a part of Member States. It would just need the courage of some of them to launch an activity. We do do not need a new EU agency or similar, we just need to upgrade INTCEN, give them a reasonable legal framework, give them reasonable tasks which may consist of the coordination and compulsory information exchange between Member States‘ agencies. Whoever observes the external policy analytics capacity of the EU should not say „forget it“ and be allowed for closure of activities – just in contrary. We need also here „more Europe“ – an intelligence centre at least for coordination, with significantly more staff than now (could be also seconded from Member States‘ agencies), and with reasonable competences, and a permanent finetuning of own and Member States‘ activities, of own and other personnel, of own analyses and those of the EU Member States.
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal