The recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium have intensified calls for an EU FBI. This is yet another example of how the EU is going to evolve. Thus, we in the UK will not be voting whether to leave the EU or stay in the EU as it is now; we will really be voting whether to leave the EU or to stay in the EU for an ever closer integration, ultimately culminating in a United States of Europe, all dictated to from Brussels.

In a recent article for UKIP Daily, ‘Why BREXIT Will Enhance the UK’s National Security’  I briefly touched upon the EU’s intelligence apparatus. The present article will examine the EU’s intelligence system in more detail. It begins by looking at how intelligence fits into the wider context of EU foreign policy – ESS, Foreign Affairs Council, EEAS, HR, CFSP, and CSDP. It moves on to set out the EU intelligence apparatus: INTCEN, INTDIR, SIAC, SATCEN, EUROPOL, the Club de Berne and the CTG and concludes with an evaluation of the effectiveness of all of this. At the end of this article, readers should ask themselves two questions:

  •  Is EU intelligence good enough?
  •  If this is how the EU does things, should we trust the EU to organise anything at all?

EEAS – European Union External Action Service

The EEAS (aka European Action Service (EAS)) is the EU’s foreign ministry and diplomatic service. It was established by the Treaty of Lisbon and officially launched on 1 December 2010. The EEAS is responsible for implementing the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and other facets of the EU’s external representation. It operates under the authority of the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR).

The EEAS directs the EU’s response to crises, has intelligence capabilities, and works with the European Commission in its areas of expertise. Although the EEAS can propose and implement policy, it does not make policy. Actual policy-making is undertaken by the Foreign Affairs Council, which is chaired by the HR.

The Foreign Affairs Council is a configuration of the Council of the EU, which brings the foreign ministers of the member states together. The current HR is Federica Mogherini. She served as Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, from 22 February 2014 to 31 October 2014, in the centre-left government of Matteo Renzi. Mogherini is a member of the Italian Democratic Party (PD) and the Party of European Socialists.

ESS – European Union Security Strategy

The ESS is a document which sets out the EU’s security strategy, aimed at promoting a secure Europe within a better world, identifying the threats confronting the EU, defining the EU’s strategic goals, and outlining the political implications for the EU.

The ESS was drafted in 2003 under the auspices of the then HR Javier Solana, and adopted by the European Council of 12-13 December 2003. It states that ‘Europe has never been so prosperous, so secure nor so free’. It concludes that ‘The world is full of dangers and opportunities’. The ESS argues that, in order to ensure the EU’s security in an increasingly globalised world, multilateral cooperation within the EU and outside it is essential, because ‘no single nation is able to tackle today’s complex challenges’. It points to a number of major threats that the EU must deal with: terrorism, proliferation of WMD, regional conflict, failed states, and organised crime.   

CFSP – Common Foreign and Security Policy

The CFSP is the EU’s agreed foreign policy. Decisions require the unanimous agreement of the member states in the Council of the European Union. Foreign policy is represented by the HR.  

CSDP – Common Security and Defence Policy

The CSDP is a crucial part of the CFSP, embracing defence and military elements, plus civilian crisis management.

EU INTCEN – EU Intelligence Analysis Centre

The EU INTCEN is part of the EEAS, under the HR. Its role is to provide intelligence analysis, early warning, and situational awareness. It does this by monitoring and assessing international events, focusing especially upon sensitive geographical areas, terrorism, proliferation of WMD, and other global threats. The EU INTCEN has four divisions:

  • Analysis: responsible for providing strategic analysis based upon information provided by the intelligence and security services of member states. It is made up of various sections, focusing upon geographical areas and thematic issue.
  • Open source intelligence: a 24/7 alert desk, based upon publicly available sources, which updates EU diplomats on current events.
  • Situation Room: gathers news from the EU’s overseas missions.
  •  Consular crisis management: runs a restricted website, which reports breaking news on the active conflicts in the world, based upon open sources and news from EU embassies.

INTCEN’s Director is Gerhard Conrad (Germany). Despite proposals from Belgium and Austria after the 2004 Madrid train bombings, INTCEN does not run undercover operations along the lines of national intelligence services.

EUMS – EU Military Staff

The EUMS is directly attached to the HR’s private office and is formally part of EEAS. The EUMS is responsible for supervising operations that come under the CSDP. The current Director General of EUMS is Lieutenant-General Wolfgang Wosolsobe (Austria).  

INTDIR – EUMS Intelligence Directorate

The EUMS includes an intelligence directorate, which works in tandem with INTCEN, but covers these issues from a military perspective.

SIAC – Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity

Under the framework of the SIAC, contributions from both these civilian (INTCEN) and military (EUMS INTDIR) intelligence units are used to prepare all-source intelligence assessments.

EU SATCEN – EU Satellite Centre

The EU SATCEN collects intelligence via satellite imagery. It is based in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain. SATCEN’s Director is Pascal Legai (France). SATCEN is autonomous in its daily operations but the HR has responsibility for SATCEN’s operational direction. SATCEN supports SIAC with its niche in imagery intelligence (IMINT).

EUROPOL – European Police Office

Europol is the EU’s law enforcement agency. It handles criminal intelligence and is combating serious international organised crime by means of facilitating cooperation between the relevant law enforcement authorities of the member states.

Europol has no executive powers. Its officials are not entitled to conduct investigations in the member states or to arrest suspects. By providing support through information sharing, intelligence analysis, expertise and training, Europol contributes to the executive measures undertaken by the relevant national law enforcement bodies. Europol’s Director is Rob Wainwright (UK).

CTG – Club de Berne and Counter Terrorism Group

The Club de Berne is an intelligence sharing forum comprising the twenty-eight EU member states plus Norway and Switzerland. It was established in 1971. It does not have a secretariat and it does not make any decisions. It is based upon the voluntary sharing of intelligence and expertise. The Club de Berne also provides a forum for discussing shared problems.

The CTG is an offshoot, which shares intelligence on terrorism and provides EU decision makers with threat assessments. The CTG is outside the EU’s institutions but liaises with them through the EU’s INTCEN. Even though it is outside the EU, the CTG’s presidency changes in line with the presidency of the EU Council, and functions as a formal link between the Club de Berne and the EU.  


It is instructive to re-visit my previous article and look at what is arguably the EU’s most important intelligence sharing project.

In 2014, Europol launched the Focal Point Travellers initiative, a project to store information about thousands of people suspected of travelling across borders to engage in terrorism, including foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. This scheme never got a broad buy-in from governments, receiving information on only 2,000 suspects, less than half of the foreign fighters known to individual EU security services. Even Europol’s own Director, Rob Wainwright, a former MI5 analyst, concedes that ‘There is a black hole of information’. His efforts have been impeded by EU governments’ reluctance to share information, owing to political and cultural barriers.

By the day of the Paris attacks, according to a report by Gilles de Kerchove (European Council’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator), only half of the EU’s twenty-eight member states had registered foreign fighters on the Europol database. Kerchove feels that this lamentable state of affairs is due to a lack of political will to share effective data on foreign fighters. Half of the information on the Focal Point Travellers database came from just six countries, including one from outside the EU.

This leads me to conclude that EU intelligence is simply not good enough. It will probably not improve, as the EU has continually shown that it is incapable of change.

If this is how the EU does intelligence, an EU FBI would be an absolute disaster.

If this is how the EU does intelligence, BREXIT is clearly the UK’s best option.


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