The Merkel phone tap, the UK’s involvement in the tap, and then parading the heads of GCHQ MI6 and MI5 in front of Parliament all make for great news stories.  It is wonderfully entertaining to see the Americans squirm when asked about bugging programmes that they have in operation, and it is great television to see our MPs get all haughty about ‘national security’.  It also makes for great conspiracy theories when we ask why exactly Francis Maude felt the need to install his own Wi-Fi network.  Gripping stuff.

We, as Britons, entrust our leaders to make the right moral decisions.  We expect them to do ‘the right thing’.  Our fail-safe is that our leaders can be voted out at the next election if they fail in their moral duty.  If the people responsible for bad decisions are not able to be held accountable we could end up on the slippery slope to a Police State.  How would people feel if the unelected European Commission had its own spying agency?  It does.

Here is a 1997 piece written by the NGO Statewatch.

Vol 7 no 1 January – February 1997

A special report by Statewatch published at the end of February detailed plans for a joint initiative drawn up by the Council of the European Union and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to introduce a global system for the surveillance of telecommunications – phone calls, e-mails and faxes.

Further investigations have revealed that: a. The decision to go ahead was never discussed by the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers – it was simply agreed by “written procedure” through an exchange of telexes between the 15 EU governments. b. The “Requirements” to be placed on network and service providers by the European Union to enable the surveillance of communications adopted on 17 January 1995 – and not made public until November 1996 – is based on the Requirements” drawn up by the FBI in 1992 and 1994.

And now the EU has its own agency to help them out with this, called INTCEN.  According to its own Fact Sheet, its main functions are to:

“Provide exclusive information that is not available overtly or provided elsewhere”;

“Provide assessments and briefings and a range of products based on intelligence and open sources”

“Act as a single entry point in the EU for classified information coming from Member States’ civilian intelligence and security services”

To “support and assist” the presidents of the European Council and Commission “in the exercise of their respective functions in the area of external relations.”

Ilkka Salmi, former head of the Finnish security service the Suojelupoliisin (which deals with“counter-terrorism, counter-espionage and security work”) holds the post of director, a job that reportedly earns him €180,000 a year. Salmi answers to Catherine Ashton, head of the EEAS and also High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

INTCEN currently employs 67 people, out of approximately 3,500 employed by the EEAS in total (1,500 at its headquarters and 2,000 in EU delegations overseas.) There are two main divisions within INTCEN. The Analysis Division has 47 staff split into sections based on geographical and thematic topics,and provides “strategic analysis based on input from the security and intelligence services of the Member States.” The General and External Relations Division has 15 staff and deals with legal, administrative and IT issues and undertakes open source analysis. Ilkka Salmi and four staff working directly for him make up the remaining.

INTCEN has the legal tools that it requires through the ‘Requirements’, and it has the beginnings of a true service, but 67 people is hardly enough, which is why the Dutch Commissioner Vivien Redding announced to the Greek newspaper Naftemporiki on November 1 that there will be a fully operational EU service by 2020.

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