TELEGRAPH Blogs 7.8.08
-Dan Hannan MEP
The EU continues to take liberties
The extent to which civil liberties are under attack from Brussels is spelt out today by Ian Traynor in The Guardian. The EU's ambitions are awesome: an international bank of biometric data, a Euro-gendarmerie, common external frontiers, harmonisation of criminal law. Look on its works, ye mighty, and despair.
As always, freedom is being curtailed in the name of security. As the Euro-Liberal leader Graham Watson rather tastelessly put it after the attacks of September 11: "Osama bin Laden has done more for European integration than anyone since Jacques Delors".
What is the point of fretting about ID cards [There’s no point in these anyway since it has today been proved that they can be hacked into quite easily and would not be secure! -cs] or 42-day detention when the whole field of justice and home affairs is passing daily under Brussels jurisdiction? Who is going to resign his seat and fight a by-election about that?
British agencies fear one-way flow of information
Britain's intelligence and security services are preparing to oppose European Union plans to force them to share the information they gather.
By Duncan Gardham
The proposals would force MI5 and MI6 to hand over intelligence to be managed by a European intelligence assessment centre.
The EU Joint Situation Centre, known as SitCen, is based in Brussels from where it assesses terrorism, arms proliferation and crisis regions as well as providing crisis management for EU operations.
But the idea of handing over intelligence to Brussels with the prospect of little in return and the risk of compromising sources has sent shivers through the security services.
"Information is the business we are in and we have very well-developed practices for sharing it around the world," a senior security source said yesterday. "This may sound good on paper but if we share information we want to know it is shared for a purpose and that everyone is contributing.
"It has to be used with a sense of responsibility and we want to know where we are sending it and who is protecting it. If our sources are compromised it makes gathering intelligence so much harder and we have a duty to protect information that is passed to us."
Paul Cornish, an expert in international security at the Chatham House think-tank, said: "The difficulty with the EU is that it is a complex organisation and there are risks in sharing information with countries like Bulgaria or Hungary that it will end up in other hands."
Efforts to share intelligence within the EU have always fallen at the first hurdle. It has only been in recent years that Nato members have begun to establish a level of trust. Even then, the loss of information about Nato bombing targets during the Kosovo campaign of the 1990s, blamed on middle-ranking French officers, emphasised the dangers.
Some European nations envy the level of information exchange and mutual respect that Britain enjoys with the United States. After the Glasgow bombings last year, Ronald K Noble, the secretary general of Interpol, criticised the lack of information sharing.
A Scotland Yard counter-terrorism source said: "We share information across the world but we have particularly strong ties with the US."
It is unlikely that the security services would want to jeopardise that close working relationship.
"Many EU countries have immature and underdeveloped intelligence networks," said Mr Cornish. "It is inconceivable that we would share information with organisations that may be flaky.
"The US and the UK have a special relationship that involved a close sharing of information and no one else has anything like that, partly because it is only the US and to a lesser extent the UK that have intelligence gathering operations with a global reach. We are not going to get anything out of giving this information to other countries and we are not going to share the crown jewels if we do not get anything back."
There are already procedures among police forces across Europe to alert them to a potential terrorist threat but the sharing of intelligence agency information is much more sensitive.
While the French and German intelligence services are very strong they do not operate on a level compared to MI5, MI6, the FBI or the CIA and some members of the EU have been hoping that they can use SitCen to collect information they would not otherwise receive.
EU OBSERVER 7.8.08
Secret EU report moots sharing personal data with US
A secret [not very secret - see the 5 reports I have sent out! Maybe this is as ‘leaky’ as the other EU countries’ Intelligence Services -cs] report prepared by experts from six European Union member states suggests creating an anti-terrorist pact with Washington which would include sharing intelligence across the 27-strong bloc.
The 53-page report drafted by the interior and justice ministers from Germany, France, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic - recent, current and future EU presidency countries - argues that the stronger link with the US is needed to boost the fight against terrorism, UK daily The Guardian reported.
The new initiative is dubbed as "Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation" and it should involve the transfer of huge amounts of information on EU citizens and travellers to the US.
Negotiations over such a pact have so far been unsuccessful due to privacy concerns in some European countries and institutions but the new report - handed over to all governments last month - suggests that it should be finalised by 2014 at the latest.
"The EU should make up its mind with regard to the political objective of achieving a Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation with the United States in the field of freedom, security and justice," said the report.
In addition, the document argues that anti-terrorist campaigns can only be effective if "maximum information flow between [EU] member states is guaranteed," adding "Relevant security-related information should be available to all security authorities in the member states."
Among other proposals, the document suggests setting up "networks of anti-terrorist centres" as well as boosting powers of security-related European agencies and institutions, such as Europol [police body], Frontex [external frontiers body], and Sitcen [joint intelligence centre].
The document puts together ideas on how the EU's security policy should develop over the next five years. Its preparation was launched by Germany last year.