Does the European union need a common intelligence policy?The end of the Cold War has created a world in which the relative stability between the two superpowers has disappeared. The cataclysmic changes that took place in Central and Eastern Europe as well as on the Balkan Peninsula with the break up of the Yugoslavian nation inevitably changed the face of politics in transatlantic relations.
Nationalism has emerged in the countries of the former Soviet Union and several of these republics are involved in ethnic conflicts among the different nationalities living in these states.
The argument of the article is concentrated on the need for the European Union (EU) to create a strategic intelligence agency comparable to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States.
How an intelligence agency might fit in the overall European Union mechanism and what its shape and role might be, is a prospective challenge for the member-states in the European Union.
During the 1990s, the European Union has kept a relative low profile in the world and European arena. As with the United States in the post-World War II era, the European Union has had little to no experience in dealing with these new problems. After the changes, the Europeans expected that Europe would become a more peaceful and stable region, but the contrary has been the case.
In July 1991, the European Union had to deal with a major crisis in Yugoslavia. This crisis became a civil war and the Europeans were unable to stop the fighting. One of the reasons for the failure of the European Union states was the divided opinions and later actions of the individual member-states.
Furthermore, the European Union did not realize how deep-rooted the conflict between the different ethnic groups was. Through continuous analyzing of the situation, the European Union states might have been able to realize sooner that a major conflict in Yugoslavia was inevitable and been able to diffuse the conflict before it could explode.
Similarly, few decades back, the United States was not able to foresee the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, even though considerable intelligence indications were available. The U.S. Congress made public the full story of the Pearl Harbor tragedy, an almost perfect model of disastrous handling of crucial strategic intelligence.
As a result the Americans realized that an intelligence organization was of vital importance for their national security and that a coordinating central intelligence organization would be able to perform the warning functions better than the existing individual departmental agencies.
The Pearl Harbor experience of the Americans could be compared to the Yugoslav experience of the European Union. Pearl Harbor was for the United States an important reason to found the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Yugoslav crisis could be an important reason for the European Union to establish the European Union Intelligence Agency (EUIA).
Moreover, the forthcoming establishment of a “European Constitution” should be extended to an intelligence policy, since existing bilateral relationships are insufficient for resolving today’s new risks and threats. The Maastricht Treaty seized the opportunity in 1991 to catalyze the process when it was referred to the perspective of a common foreign and security policy (CFSP) including the eventual framing of a common defense policy.
On 14 November 1995, in Madrid, assessments were investigated and promises made, to contribute towards enhancing European security and intelligence arrangements with the conclusion that development of intelligence cooperation was important for operational capabilities.
In 1998, President Chirac of France categorically stated at the British-French Summit in St. Malo that new policies would inevitably create new practices. At the Summit, it was stated that intelligence was fundamental to the success of the European Union, and that it must be given appropriate structures and a capacity for analysis of situations, sources of intelligence, and a capability for relevant strategic planning, without unnecessary duplication. This notion was reinforced in the Cologne Declaration as well as in the Amsterdam Treaty in order to create a policy of planning and early warning unit.
However, a clearly defined intelligence agenda is still absent, despite the overwhelming number of treaties, summits, and statements.
As compared to the Central Intelligence Agency in the U.S. political structure, the European Union Intelligence Agency should be independent and not part of any other institution within the European Union.
Its most important task would be the analysis of overtly gathered information and preparing it for use by the policy makers. The question of to whom the European Union Intelligence Director will report, should be a compromise among the European Commission, European Council and the European Parliament.
Furthermore, when the European Union Intelligence Agency (EUIA) foresees a situation which could be threatening to the European Union member-states, such as the crisis in Yugoslavia or prospective religious turmoil leading to terrorist acts, the Council of Ministers should be involved as well by informing appropriately their national intelligence services.
Since the Council of Ministers is the official decision-making body of the European Union, it should receive reports and analysis from the European Union Intelligence Agency. However, the problem here is that a Minister of foreign affairs might have difficulties and conflicts in dealing with the foreign affairs of his own country and that of the European Union at the same time. This is a good reason to found a Committee on European Intelligence, which will refer directly to the EU Commission.
On the other side, the European Parliament would be the one to approve the budget of the European Union Intelligence Agency. In the U.S., the Congress is also responsible for the approval of the budget of the Central Intelligence Agency. The European Parliament could in the future also become the institution to provide oversight over the European Union Intelligence Agency (EUIA) operations comparable to U.S. Congressional oversight over the Intelligence Community.
The Council of Ministers as well as the European Parliament could also be involved in the determination of the issues that should be monitored by the European Union Intelligence Agency.
However, threats have to be clearly identified and a European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) must be corresponded to a coherent intelligence action that would be defined in a European Central Intelligence Act. This act would support the pillar’s role of the European Director of Central Intelligence in a renewal transatlantic cooperation within the framework of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
A question that has to be asked now is what kind of relationship should be established between NATO, U.S. and the European Union Intelligence Agency (EUIA)?
In the United States, the military establishment has its own intelligence agencies. It would be safe to assume that the military institution of the European Union will have its own intelligence. One of the reasons for having its own agencies is that the military requires different intelligence information than the other departments. As in the U.S., the European Union Intelligence Agency would coordinate strategic intelligence, including that of the military.
Similarly, the European Union has supported the “Galileo Project” -a system of 30 satellites – which will be on full process by 2008 – along with the European Satellite Center at Torrejon station in Spain, should collect analytical data for the European Intelligence Agency strategic elaboration, while NATO intelligence capabilities could define issues of common sharing on intelligence data.
To sum up, if European governments are willing to provide classified information to the European Union Intelligence Agency (EUIA), as well as the necessary manpower and resources, it could make a significant contribution to European collaboration in intelligence analysis.
Security and intelligence analysts who promote the idea of a European Union Common Intelligence Policy argue that intelligence collaboration is already taking place successfully around the world; in the Western European Union Satellite Center in Torrejon; the Situation Center at the United Nations in New York and the informal gathering of the Club of Berne in Switzerland.
The last, the Club of Berne, although a controversial Forum, does demonstrate that significant cooperation between European Union member-states can occur.
Furthermore, since European Union member-states address the possibilities of a future European Army, even if it remains simply a peacekeeping facility, it is crucial that an intelligence policy is created, since successful armed forces require to be well informed. Reduced duplication and closed cooperation among the member-states offers an opportunity for efficient intelligence cooperation.
However, the establishment of intelligence capabilities in the European Union should not be designed to compete with the United States. Indeed, internationalization of intelligence is very unlikely to occur while the U.S. remains a hegemonic power, since it will resist all attempts to relinquish control of national intelligence policies. Perhaps regionalism of intelligence is a viable alternative, of which a European intelligence policy would be a key pillar.
Without a comprehensive, intelligent and firm policy in the European Union, terrorism, ethnic and religious conflicts will continue to present a real threat to the European continent for the future generation.
The notion of the European Director of Central Intelligence is an appropriate development for the future, a logical step in the evolution of the European Union.
Hopefully, it will not be an isolated development, a notion that has to combat its way through a number of politicians who are not ready to look that far ahead.
The only tough task for the European Commission is to find the right person to appoint as a European Director of the E.U. Intelligence Agency. The First Director cannot afford to fail!
First published by "Research Institute for European and American studies" (Athens).