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European External Intelligence Co-Operation

Structures, Problems, Implications and Perspectives

©2005 Masterarbeit 89 Seiten


The author of this master thesis has worked in 2004 as a trainee in the Press Cabinet of the High Representative of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and has followed the developments in the co-operative European intelligence structure within the Council Secretariat from close-by.
Since the implementation of a European Defence and Security Policy in 1999, the EU has to apply and co-ordinate a broad range of broad range of security policy instruments. Therefore, access to various kinds of intelligence has become indispensable. Due to the terrorist attacks in of 11 September 2001, co-operation of EU military and external intelligence has been supplemented. The Madrid attacks and the launching of the EUFOR-Althea mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina in December 2004 have finally led to a wider political debate on the level of intelligence co-operation among Member States.
Of particular importance was the establishment of the Joint Situation Center (SITCEN), a strategic intelligence assessment cell, which supports the decision-making of the High Representative.
„Unless there is not a high degree of intelligence sharing among EU governments, CFSP will remain in an ‘embryonic’ state.” (Charles Grant, 2000)
What Grant was certainly right to entitle „embryonic” in the year 2000 seems to be a glaring understatement from today’s perspective. Within the last five years the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) developed with the „speed of light”. One can agree with this metaphor chosen by EU’s High Representative for CFSP Javier Solana, if one takes into consideration how slowly the wheels of progress in Brussels and in the capitals of the Member States often turn. The taking over of the 7000 troops strong Althea mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina from NATO this year is indeed an impressive proof of how mature CFSP has become. Given the hypothesis of Charles Grant is true and without intelligence sharing the development of CFSP would be blocked at an early stage, we must conclude that truly decisive developments in the field of EU intelligence co-operation have taken place, albeit largely unnoticed by the public.
This study has not the intention to engage in a debate of principles whether the intensifying militarisation of the European Union is the most appropriate approach to confront the key threats of today’s international security environment. It will rather take the developments in CFSP […]




1. What is intelligence?

2. The necessity of enhanced EU intelligence co-operation

3. Current intelligence support to EU Foreign Policy
3.1 The EU Intelligence structure under the responsibility of the SG/HR
3.2 A European External Intelligence Agency: SITCEN
3.2.1 Formation
3.2.2 Objective
3.2.3 Input
3.2.4 Output

4. Difficulties and potentials of EU intelligence co-operation
4.1 Difficulties
4.1.1 Political obstacles
4.1.2 Practical obstacles
4.2 Potentials
4.2.1 Potentials deriving from structural advantages
4.2.2 Potentials related to human intelligence

5. The impact of intelligence on CFSP
5.1 Does common assessment provide for common positions?
5.2 To what extend does intelligence influence CFSP decision-making?

6. The control of EU intelligence: A lack of democratic supervision?
6.1 Inherent tension: democracy and intelligence
6.2 Obstacles for democratic scrutiny over EU Security and Defence Policy
6.2.1 Factors weakening parliamentary scrutiny on the EU and national level
6.2.2 European Parliament versus Council: the struggle for access to confidential Council documents
6.3 Establishing parliamentary scrutiny for EU intelligence
6.3.1 The constitution of a legally framed statute
6.3.2 The creation of a EU Intelligence Control Committee
6.3.3 Rights and measures of European citizens with regard to data protection

7. From SITCEN to CEIA (Central European Intelligence Agency) 56




List of Abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


Unless there is not a high degree of intelligence sharing among EU governments,

CFSP will remain in an ‘embryonic’ state.” (Charles Grant, 2000)[1]

What Grant was certainly right to entitle “embryonic” in the year 2000 seems to be a glaring understatement from today’s perspective. Within the last five years the European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) developed with the “speed of light”[2]. One can agree with this metaphor chosen by EU’s High Representative for CFSP Javier Solana, if one takes into consideration how slowly the wheels of progress in Brussels and in the capitals of the Member States often turn. The taking over of the 7000 troops strong Althea mission[3] in Bosnia and Herzegovina from NATO this year is indeed an impressive proof of how mature CFSP has become. Given the hypothesis of Charles Grant is true and without intelligence sharing the development of CFSP would be blocked at an early stage, we must conclude that truly decisive developments in the field of EU intelligence co-operation have taken place, albeit largely unnoticed by the public.

This study has not the intention to engage in a debate of principles whether the intensifying militarisation of the European Union is the most appropriate approach to confront the key threats of today’s international security environment. It will rather take the developments in CFSP respectively in the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) for granted and thereupon tries to answer the question what implications a co-operative EU intelligence structure has on EU Foreign Policy decision-making.

The analysis will define and limit the term intelligence and try to assess what factors in the international security environment are serving as a motor for enhanced EU intelligence co-operation. How is the current intelligence support to CFSP instruments structured and organised? And what are the impacts on the transatlantic relationship? The paper analyses what state of intelligence tools the European Union has at her disposal for Foreign Policy-making.

Furthermore the study aims to answer the question whether the reproach of the “triple deficit” in democratic scrutiny over EU level intelligence capabilities is justified and what legal and democratic mechanisms would be appropriate to enhance democratic control.

Towards the end this paper elaborates in how far integration of intelligence of European intelligence services facilitates a coherent and effective CFSP.

Finally this study, while sharing the position that intelligence will continue to pertain for the next years at the national level of responsibilities, describes a line of reasoning why there is no way around a significantly higher level of European integration and shift of responsibility to the EU level.

1. What is Intelligence?

Defining Intelligence

Given that intelligence is often said to be the “second oldest business” in the world one would assume to find a sophisticated understanding of just what exactly that business is, what it does, and how it works. However, in the case of intelligence we search in vain. Until today all attempts to develop a definite definition or theory of intelligence failed.[4]

As Mark Lowenthal points out, the term intelligence can have at least three meanings: It can be seen as a process, by which governments request, collect, analyze and disseminate certain types of required information, and the rubric by which covert operations are planned and executed. Intelligence also comprises the products of these gatherings, analyses and covert operations. Finally, intelligence can refer to the organization, respectively the agencies that carry out these functions.[5]

Counterintelligence, by contrast, refers to information collected and analyzed, and activities undertaken, to protect a nation (including its own intelligence-related activities) against the actions of hostile intelligence services. Under this definition, the scope of counterintelligence is as broad as the scope of intelligence itself, since all manners of hostile intelligence activities must be defended against.[6]

Until today definitions of intelligence are almost exclusively developed around state governments as intelligence collectors and consumers. When dealing with EU intelligence co-operation though the production and exchange of classified information between national agencies is of primary interest. This is why this text will operate with the institutional definition of intelligence delivered by Björn Müller-Wille:

”In a security context intelligence assists the receiver in identifying threats, it helps him or her to become aware of the necessity of action. In addition it supports him or her during the planning and execution of field operations or policy actions (…) What makes certain information become intelligence is determined by its origin. Intelligence must pass through one of the institutions that are more or less officially classified as intelligence agencies.”[7]

Functions of Intelligence

While an exact definition or theory of intelligence is lacking scholars agree on the following classifications of functions of intelligence:

Criminal Intelligence

Criminal Intelligence engages in the fight against serious and organised crime. It differs from the other functions in the respect that it is linked to criminal investigations, which aim at producing evidence that can result in conviction in a court of law. Examples are the UK’s National Criminal Intelligence Service[8] or the German Bundeskriminalamt.[9] With EUROPOL (European Police Office)[10], the EU Member States have created a clearing house for the exchange of criminal intelligence produced by the national criminal intelligence services.

Security Intelligence

Security Intelligence surveys domestic threats targeting the governmental functions defined in the Constitution or equivalent. It is engaged in surveying counter-espionage, “left wing” and “right wing” extremist activities and terrorism. Examples are the UK’s MI5[11] or the German Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz[12].

Military Intelligence

Military intelligence collects and assesses information on actual and potential activities of foreign military forces within and outside its own territory. National agencies producing this kind of intelligence are in general placed under the authority of the ministry of defence. Examples are the Defence Intelligence Staff [13] in the UK or the Militärischer Abschirmdienst[14] in Germany.

External or Foreign Intelligence

External or Foreign Intelligence focuses on the developments in foreign countries. It supports decision-making on foreign policy and produces situation assessments on issues in the fields of security, defence, foreign and economic policies. As it often makes all-source assessments drawing on military, security and criminal intelligence reports, external intelligence is itself a result of cross-agency cooperation. Examples are the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)[15] respectively MI6 in the UK or the Bundesnachrichtendienst[16] in Germany.

In contrast to the functions above, external intelligence supports political rather than operational decision-making. This means it is less detailed and easier to share.[17]

Security and Criminal intelligence together stand for the so-called “domestic security intelligence” which can be described as a “high policing function”.[18] On the EU-level cooperation in domestic security takes place within the framework of the Justice and Home Affairs pillar since 1992[19] and via instruments such as EUROPOL[20] or EUROJUST[21], to give just a few examples. After the terrorist attacks in Madrid in March 2004, the Ministers of Interior of EU member states issued the “Declaration on Combating Terrorism” with a comprehensive listing of current EU activities in this field and foreseen new measures of enhanced intelligence sharing in the area of security and criminal Intelligence.[22]

It should be noted that this paper focuses almost exclusively on military and external-foreign intelligence, the two disciplines which are instruments attributive to national foreign policy. In this field, intelligence-sharing between EU member states has a long tradition in form of ad-hoc, bi- or multi-lateral co-operation. It aims to especially assess the recently institutionalised co-operational structure of intelligence sharing within the framework of the Council of the European Union. This co-operation has descended in an admittedly small but veritable intelligence instrument in support of the EU Common Foreign Security and Defence Policy.

Sources of Intelligence

Academics often categorise intelligence according to the means by which it has been collected. The most common collection disciplines are:

Human Intelligence (HUMINT)

Human Intelligence derives from human sources and is the oldest form of intelligence collection. It can be obtained through espionage, but the bulk is provided by diplomatic reporting, own field staff, or by the local population.

Imagery Intelligence (IMINT)

Imagery Intelligence is information from various kinds of images (from photographic, radar, infra-red and other types of imaging devices) that are taken by e.g. persons, aircraft or satellites.

Signal Intelligence (SIGINT)

Signal Intelligence intercepts electronic signals of all type. It provides the ability to ‘listen’ to communications (when needed after encryption), as well as to locate the source of the emission.[23]

Open source Intelligence (OSINT)

Open source Intelligence is publicly available information appearing in print or electronic form including radio, television, newspapers, journals, the internet, commercial databases, and videos, graphics, and drawings.[24]

The European Union nowadays draws and equally produces intelligence from all four sources. Since when, in what form and for what purpose will be assessed in chapter five.

Analytical versus Operative Intelligence

Analytical Intelligence:

Analytical intelligence consists of material deriving from one or more intelligence activities, which have been assessed for relevance and reliability and have been subsequently subjected to an analytical process allowing to draw conclusions. By its nature analytical intelligence permits a high degree of source protection: It is presented in a format which also offers insights outlines trends and developments and may identify areas for further study. Its ultimate purpose is to directly assist policy development.[25]

Analytical intelligence collection often requires integrating information concerning politics, military affairs, economics, societal interactions, and technological developments. It typically evolves over a long period of time and results in the development of intelligence studies and estimates.[26]

Operational Intelligence:

According to the definition of a Council document operational intelligence refers to “raw intelligence” which are for example reports debriefed from agents (known as HUMINT) or transcripts of intercepted communications, (known as SIGINT) obtained from particular casework and related activity. It is therefore highly classified and its distribution strictly limited. Such case oriented intelligence is primarily exchanged for the purpose of pursuing further intelligence gathering or neutralising hostile activity (such as preventing actual terrorist threats).

In the military sense operational intelligence is the intelligence required for planning and conducting campaigns and major operations and focuses thus primarily on the intelligence needs of commanders from theatre through corps and task force.[27]

2. The Necessity of EU Intelligence Co-operation

When the civil war in Bosnia broke out the EU had to realize that with its purely civil peacekeeping measures available at that time, it was not in the position to make any meaningful contribution in order to solve the crisis.[28] This experience was repeated in the Kosovo war, when the Europeans again were not capable to de-escalate the crisis due to their lack of robust intervention capabilities and essential intelligence support. According to Politi ”Each crisis faced by the countries of the EU (…) demonstrates not only that effective intelligence is a pre-requisite for devising and implementing appropriate solutions, but that, when Intelligence efforts have been uncoordinated, these countries have often faced the prospect of utter impotence.” [29]

It can be said that the experience of being at the mercy of the Americans and condemned to play the role of the more or less meaningless assistant of US military superpower, has led European Union countries to the conclusion that they need to create their own independent intelligence capability, if they were to have a say in the strategic as well as operational decision-making in joint military operations. As a Western European Union (WEU) Report in 2003 points out: “… recent experience of the air campaign in Kosovo (March-June 1999) together with the difficult issue of the choice of targets has pushed European countries to seek autonomy in terms of intelligence ….”[30]

Moreover, during the Helsinki summit later in 1999, EU leaders agreed to create a multinational force of 50,000 to 60,000 troops by 2003[31] under EU-command. Since military operations without intelligence are ‘blind, deaf and brainless”[32], co-operation far beyond current levels in the field will be indispensable, if this force should be in a position to operate effectively. It provides the troops with knowledge of the environment, enables combatants to optimise the assets they have, target their effort and anticipate developments.[33] The outcry would be immense if soldiers of one EU country became casualties because information available to another EU country's intelligence had not been disseminated. European desire to make this force effective will help drive such intelligence co-operation.[34]

Another factor driving intelligence co-operation within the EU is the often quoted as “new security environment” or “new multidimensional approach to security” that emerged after the end of the cold war conflict.[35] Features of this new security environment are multi-facetted.

First there is no longer a well defined threat, as was the Warsaw Pact from the Western European perspective, but instead, multiple, unforeseeable risks are emerging, such as terrorism, organised crime, social and economic underdevelopment, failed states, ecological problems and others. The security conception in this context is multi-contextual in the sense that the dividing lines between the different threats are blurred.[36]

Secondly the new conception of security no longer focuses on the state level alone. Security actors can be found at the state level as well as above and below it. Wars are no longer necessarily fought between states alone.[37]

Thirdly, the new security challenges are trans-national with respect to their effect and the geographical place of action.[38]

Robert Steele summarizes the impacts of this new international security context on intelligence when he states: “We have passed from a ‘just-in-case-intelligence’ collection, to a ‘just-in-time’ one”.[39] While in the past a relatively stable threat, generated by a secretive Soviet regime, required that every bit of evidence available should be collected so as to have the right piece of the puzzle available when required, the new, more diffuse risks, often originating from secretive state or non-state actors, pop up unexpectedly on the political screen and demand a fast response.[40] Intelligence agencies also have to face the unfolding global information revolution, epitomized by the universal and free knowledge available through the internet. The information competency required by this development cannot easily be reconciled with the tendency of separation and “walling-off” that has characterized intelligence agencies within Europe until recently.[41]

Intelligence has always played a vital role in defining threats. Since the new threats are more difficult to distinguish the importance of intelligence has increased. European and national policy-makers are therefore confronted with a double challenge. To a larger extent than ever before they have to co-ordinate and interlink the different security policy instruments at their disposal. At the same time they have to synchronise national and European efforts. Co-operation amongst European agencies is a prerequisite to detect these new threats. Sharing intelligence is often necessary as there is “simply more classified and unclassified material available to be collected, analysed and evaluated than can be handled by any single agency or bilateral agreement in Europe.”[42]

Moreover, in their desire to keep their intelligence tools up to date in times when most European defence budgets are tight, national leaders are increasingly likely to seek needed improvements on a European level instead of attempting this nationally. This applies above all to the costly procurement of technology needed for efficient and timely intelligence support for the new multifaceted international security agenda. It is only by sharing such costs among several countries and by jointly operating the resulting hardware, such as for example space-based and airborne photographic and electronic intelligence and high-capacity secure broadband communications networks that European nations can acquire a minimum capacity of policy-enabling intelligence technology of their own.[43] Because of effects such as the avoidance of duplications, synergy effects and economies of scale, results can be obtained for the cheapest costs at the European level. This idea becomes also manifest in the creation of the EU Defence Agency which was established in 2004.[44]

Finally, there is the silent assumption an extended intelligence sharing provides for a deepened and uniform understanding of the extent and nature of the terrorist threat and thus a common perception of the threat amongst member states. Consequently the common threat assessment on the EU level is hoped to generate, not automatically, but at least more easily, common positions and common actions of European Foreign Policy.[45] To what extend these expectations seem to be realistic, shall be assessed in further detail in chapter five.

Taking all these factor into account, the question if there is a need for EU level intelligence is a clearly outdated discussion. Due to the fact that the EU has acquired a military dimension, the changed international security environment, domestic budgetary problems, new technologies, the impacts from globalisation and the potential of shared intelligence to lead to common policies within the CFSP, enhanced intelligence sharing within the EU has become an imperative necessity in today’s security environment.

3. Current Intelligence support to EU Foreign Policy

3.1 Intelligence structure under the responsibility of the SG/HR

Since the implementation of a European Defence and Security Policy in 1999[46], the EU has to apply and co-ordinate a broad range of security policy instruments. For the successful application of these instruments support of various kinds of intelligence has become indispensable. Consequently, the EU Member States agreed in 2001 to establish a co-operative intelligence structure within the CFSP framework. In the same year the European Satellite Centre in Torréjon, Spain[47] (SATCEN), and the Intelligence Division of the Military Staff (INTDIV)[48] in the Council Secretariat were established. These bodies were created at the Nice Summit and were declared operational at the Laeken Summit December 2001.[49]

After the terrorist attacks in of 11 September 2001, co-operation of EU military and external intelligence has been supplemented.

Of particular importance was the establishment of the Joint Situation Centre (SITCEN), a strategic intelligence assessment cell, which supports the decision-making of the High Representative.[50] SITCEN will be presented extensively in a chapter of its own, as the position of the unit for the EU intelligence community is central. SITCEN can be actually considered as the nucleus of a central European intelligence co-operation forum, with great potentials for expansion in the future, processes which will be assessed at a later moment.

The Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit: the “Policy Unit”

The Policy Unit came into existence as a result of the Amsterdam Treaty and was set up in October 1999. It is composed of diplomats and high-ranking civil servants and has the task of producing political assessments on areas of interest for the Union's foreign policy making. The main addressees of these reports are the SG/HR and Political and Security Committee (PSC). Concerning intelligence, it has the task to provide assessments of the Union's interests in regard to the CFSP, to give early warning of crises and produce documents setting out the policy options available. It comprises some 20 or so staff and senior civil servants from the Council and Commission Secretariats and six different regional task forces: “Mediterranean”, “Africa”, “Central Asia” and “Transatlantic relations”, “Asia”, “Balkans”, “South America”.[51] It relies on diplomatic, economic, political and social information, either freely available or obtained through member states' and the Commissions diplomatic missions worldwide. The unit has presented well-received reports and briefings on the Balkans, the recent hot spot of European foreign policy. On several occasions the head of the unit, at the time the German diplomat Christoph Heusgen, has briefed the PSC.

The EU Military Committee (EUMC) and EU Military Staff (EUMS)

The Military Committee (EUMC), composed of the chiefs of defence staff seconded from the Member States armed forces, provides the forum for military consultation and cooperation among member states in the field of conflict prevention and crisis management. The EUMC takes over the lead during military operations and formulates aims for the European Military Staff (EUMS). The EUMC consists of the Chiefs of Defence (ChoD) of the member states.[52]

For defence intelligence, the EU Military Staff (EUMS) is the main source of military expertise in the European Union. It has been created officially in 2001[53] and is in charge of early warning, situation assessment and strategic planning, which includes defining the politico-military framework of any intervention and drawing up possible strategic military options. is responsible for providing the PSC with advice and recommendations on all military matters.

The Intelligence Division of the EUMS

An intelligence division has been created within the EUMS. It assists with situation assessment, early warning (strategic monitoring) and provides operational support in the event of European military engagement. The division has a staff of around thirty specialists from military secret services. There is at least one expert from every member state. The experts all work for the Director-General of the EUMS but also have a secure link to their own national intelligence services. They are thus able to receive intelligence contributed by their own country and request intelligence if necessary. This arrangement made it necessary to set up special infrastructure and each member state identified which of its own particular agencies would be responsible for providing intelligence. From intelligence received, the division is to provide situation assessments that reflect a common European position. The documents produced are forwarded to the Director-General of the EUMS, the Military Committee and the Situation Centre.[54]

The Political and Security Committee (PSC)

The Political and Security Committee (PSC) consists of the permanent national representatives, sometimes of the national political directors and is the central and permanent body for crises management. It is supposed to have access to all relevant information, proposals and initiatives relevant to the military as well as to civilian dimension of security. The major task of the PSC are to monitor the international situation and, in the event of a crisis, to execute the political control and strategic direction of EU-led operations. It also is responsible for preparing the political decisions of the Council of Ministers.[55]

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Chart 1: Intelligence Structure in the Council Secretariat.

3.2 A European External Intelligence Agency: SITCEN


When the Amsterdam Treaty entered into force in 1999, Javier Solana became the first High Representative of the European Common and Foreign Security Policy. It is easily imaginable that during his first months in office the former Secretary General from NATO must felt a bit like “a fish without water”. All of a sudden he found himself in a situation where he was deprived of the sophisticated military apparatus as well as the intelligence capabilities he had at his disposal at NATO. In order to help himself he created immediately after appointment, a small Situation Centre (SITCEN) within the Policy Unit, consisting of diplomat experts who he tasked to produce for him daily reports about current events worldwide. In the case of an event of special importance for EU Foreign Policy, such as were for example the elections in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in 2000, SITCEN produced special situation assessments for the SG/HR so that Solana was in a situation to react swiftly to the latest developments.[56] Later, when additionally military personnel of the military staff and intelligence analysts from national external services were seconded to SITCEN, it became too big and was outsourced to the “Kortenberg Building” in the Rue Kortenberg, situated just a stone throw away from the main building of the Council, the “Justus Lipsius” in Rue de la Loi at Point Schumann.

During the last years, seven member states, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have each sent one national intelligence analyst to SITCEN, which today consists of around 20 persons. Physically, it resembles a calm news-room - with satellite television-sets running CNN and computers linked to major news agencies. SITCEN produces daily summaries of the most important EU diplomatic telegrams the COREU (Correspondance Européenne) and forwards information on the focal points of EU foreign policy most notably the Balkans and the Middle East.[57] In 2004, in response to the terrorist attacks in Madrid of 15 March 2004 a counter-terrorism unit was created within SITCEN.[58] Thus, the ambitions of this strategic intelligence assessment centre are increasing.[59]

SITCEN is the only unit within the General Secretariat which was not created on the basis of a Council Decision, but on the initiative of the SG/HR. This “lack of legal status” provides for certain shortcomings in the democratic control of the Centre. A topic which will be assessed in further detail in chapter five.


SITCEN as an analysis centre looks at how international crises affect European interests. In times of crisis it is a round-the-clock monitoring unit, which is capable to provide a “photo” of the international situation, seen from a condensed, joint assessment every single day of the year.[60] One of the most important ambitions of SITCEN is certainly the integration of the civilian and military perspective from 25 member states into one common assessment. This is exceeding by far the capacity a single national service has and constitutes, even though SITCEN is primarily at the service of EU-level foreign policy decision-making, an important added value for national intelligence agencies, which profit in return by the reports SITCEN is transmitting to them.

With a view to the support of military missions SITCEN is collecting strategic and operational intelligence in support of the decision-making, planning and performance of, to name a current example, the EUFOR (EU Forces) Althea mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Intelligence in this context is important to gather information of the anticipated environments, awareness of the surroundings and players to be encountered. This common intelligence is provided for obvious reasons mainly by the Intelligence Division of the Military Staff as they are in constant contact with the deployed troops. The process is also assisted by a sound human intelligence, in the form of so-called monitors, who receive information from several informants among the native population.[61]

With a view to counter terrorism it is the task of SITCEN to collect strategic intelligence from member states. This comprises knowledge of networks, how they are organised and where they are located, their background and ideology, how they are funded and implications for the security of member states. In this respect intelligence must be gathered outside EU territory. This is the job of the "intelligence" services which must also seek to obtain specific intelligence about countries harbouring terrorist network bases: political regimes, links with terrorists and possible developments. SITCEN is gathering all such information in order to put them together to one single picture of the threat.

Input to SITCEN assessment

The sources of intelligence on which the analysts within SITCEN base their assessments are various.

Contribution of the member states:

Member states contribute on a voluntary basis to two types of intelligence: diplomatic reports and reports from national agencies.

In the case of diplomatic reports, the respective national diplomatic staff weighs up if the contained information is relevant for EU level external intelligence. If yes, they address the selected reports either to their national analyst within SITCEN or to the entire body in a secure way.

The reports from national intelligence agencies, normally highly secretive, are sent directly from the agencies to their respective liason officers within SITCEN. This technique for the protected sharing of sensitive intelligence with SITCEN is called “front end cell”.[62] This term refers to a system which allows to create a safe intersection between “secured” national intelligence and the European structure. The practice of “front end cell” shall be explained via the following example:

A German officer within the European Military Staff is the point of contact for the German military intelligence agency MAD (Militärischer Abschirmdienst). In the particular case of military intelligence services the main sources of information are defence attachés accredited to embassies in various countries. Some European countries still have highly sophisticated defence attaché networks which are the prime source of information about potential conflicts and local terrorist movements, together with representatives of the "civil" services who keep a low profile, often under the cover of diplomatic status.[63]

A German diplomat within the Policy Unit is on his part the recipient of diplomatic intelligence coming from the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst). The transfer is either done through a secure agency intranet – as it is the case with the German BND – or via “old fashioned” sealed paper dépêches, which are passed personally from a secret service agent to the EU-level diplomat. Enciphered faxes or e-mails are also used. From this point on it is up to the national contact persons within the Council Secretariat to decide what part of the intelligence he or she is going to share with the rest of the SITCEN assessment team.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Chart 2: Intelligence Input to SITCEN. In dependence on Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense: Quelle Organisation pour le SITCEN?, Bruxelles 2001. Figure 2, Utilisation du « Front End Cell ».

European Union Sources

Apart from the national streams of intelligence, SITCEN receives also intelligence input from the first pillar. It is for example on the daily mailing list of reports from the Commission’s delegations all over the world and the daily COREU (Correspondance Européenne) Flash of DG RELEX (General Directorate External Relations) the transmission system of Council CFSP messages. These reports generally include a translated press summary of the day and an evaluation about developments of interest such as human rights or elections in the respective country or region of residence. Thus these reports are can be classified as “EU diplomatic intelligence”.

The Council offices in New York and in Geneva also transmit reports.

SITCEN does also its own Open-Source Assessment. This includes the monitoring of print, radio, television, internet or commercial data bases. Here it is being helped from the Media Monitoring Service, which is part of the press office in the Council and monitors constantly newswire but also has access through BBC World Monitoring to a wide variety of daily world-wide press translated into English. It is also subscriber to various news papers, and open-source intelligence providers such as the “Economist Intelligence Unit”[64], or the “Janes Intelligence Digest”[65], and is naturally connected to the NEWSWIRE system in order to monitor the breaking news of the major European press agencies.[66]

In the future the EU Satellite Centre in Torrejón will become an important source of first hand Image Intelligence as soon as its Galileo Satellite system will become operational in 2008.

As there are no cooperation arrangements guaranteeing confidentiality, EUROPOL and Council intelligence bodies are unable to exchange classified reporting, this limited cooperation between the third and the second pillar has been widely criticised.[67]. However it is likely that that the situation will improve with the creation of an integrated EU external service foreseen in the new Constitution.

International Organisations

SITCEN is also receiving reports from international organisations such as the United Nations (UN), NATO and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation Europe (OSCE) and a list of non-governmental organisations and think tanks, such as Amnesty International or the Red Cross.

On an ad hoc basis SITCEN also cooperates with the following national security intelligence forums:

- The TREVI group which stands for "Terrorisme, Radicalisme, Extrémisme et Violence Internationale" was established in 1975. It brings together the Ministers of Justice and the Interior of the European Union, in order to strengthen police cooperation. With the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the Trevi Group's status was modified and it became permanent. Six groups of experts work on particular topics. They are responsible for organising the exchange of intelligence and harmonising the legislations and regulations of the various European countries.[68]

- The less well-known Club of Berne was established in 1971 as a lose federation of national security services. Today it comprises the services of every member of the European Union. It is organised in an informal network grouping in order to facilitate operational support to counter terrorism cooperation and to collaborate on joint threat assessments. The heads of services meet twice a year in formal summit and there are training courses for younger staff. All this joint activity contributes to a vital function in intelligence co-operation: trust.[69]

Following the 9/11 attacks in the United States the Club of Berne created a new organization, called the Counter Terrorist Group (CTG) with wider membership together with the United States, Switzerland and Norway. Though CTG is not a EU organization and reports through national security services to the capital, the national chair of CTG rotates in synchronization with the EU Presidency. In a reaction to the Madrid attacks in March 2004 the secret club issued its first and probably last ever press statement[70] at the end of April, saying that it agreed to formally establish the CTG (Counter-Terrorism-Group) with the inclusion of the new member states with effect from 1. May. Currently CTG is establishing thematic working groups as a means to enhance cooperation between services. The CTG is hoped to work as the motor in order to convey security intelligence to the EU level. At the moment it is being worked at on how the intelligence gets fed through a secure communication system to Brussels, as there are no formal links between the the Club of Berne and the Council.[71]

This "club" provides the framework for a number of thematic meetings based on the concerns of the day. Informal contacts take place between small groups. In the Berne Club criminal and security intelligence is exchanged.[72]

- The Kilowatt group was set up in 1977 and comprises the security agencies of EU Member States and Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the US (CIA and FBI) and Israel (Mossad and Shin Beth). In this group, exchanges are not reciprocal, which means that a secret services is not obliged to provide an important information, in order to get an information in return, which is especially helpful to smaller countries. In actual fact, the "group" is little more than a telex network.[73]

DG External Relations

SITCEN allows for a structured co-operation between the Policy Unit and the European Military Staff. However, DG External Relations is more or less excluded from the intelligence loop around SITCEN. This is due to fact that national intelligence agencies are suspicious to share intelligence with EU institutions’ officials who have no diplomatic status and partly no security clearance. Moreover DG E is located in the Justus Lipsius building, which is not as well protected as the Kortenberg building against external infiltrations.[74] Additionally, there is a home grown rivalry between the Policy Unit and DG E within the General Secretariat. In theory, the division of labour is quite clear-cut: DG E is primarily supporting the Presidency and the working groups, while policy formulation via the SG/HR is entrusted upon the Policy Unit. In practice, DG E has been there first and is hesitant to surrender the political task of policy formulation.[75] The fact that the two divisions work both in the field of external relations triggers a struggle of competence, especially with a view to who is being asked by the SG/HR to prepare certain dossiers. Not necessarily at the expense of quality as “concurrence revives the business”, but at the expense of a duplication of sources. It would be desirable to integrate DG E in future better in the intelligence loop.


SITCEN produces daily summaries on a wide range of countries in the world, which is based on “a variety of trusted open sources” and which usually contain a short abstract about the political situation in the country, the military/security situation and the humanitarian situation.

The main recipients of SITCEN assessments in support of CFSP decision-making are the SG/HR, the Political and Security Committee and the European Military Committee.

SITCEN also supports the autonomous EU civil-military planning cell in SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) near Mons with intelligence for strategic planning of military and civilian operations. This is done through a secure communications system which connects Mons and the Kortenberg Building in Brussels. Currently, this is done with a focus on Bosnia-Herzegovina and the EU Althea mission.

The Commission receives the material through its representative in the PSC, but it has only a restricted circulation within the External Relations Directorate-General. The information the Commission is able to contribute due to her worldwide delegations is extremely various and rich. What the Commission contributes to SITCEN situation assessments exceeds by far the benefit she has in form of getting valuable information in return. It should be assured that the Commission profits to a larger extend from the intelligence capacity. She should for example be able to task the SITCEN for assessments of threats against her field staff in regions which involve certain risks. Another way to enhance the cooperation between SITCEN and the Commission could be to second personnel from DG RELEX to SITCEN, who have a security clearance.[76] It is obvious that it will be difficult for the Commission to integrate in the decision-making of the PSC and the SG/HR without being able to see a situation through the same “window” as the Council does via the SITCEN assessment.[77]

It is paramount to understand that under the notion of a global approach and a comprehensive Security Strategy it is indispensable to integrate all instruments of conflict management. This inescapable integration can only start by a common threat assessment such as the one being provided by SITCEN. Like this SITCEN is qualified to incite convergence between member states as well as between European Institutions.

4. Difficulties and Potentials of EU Intelligence Sharing

4.1 Difficulties

While Chapter two discussed the various arguments why an enhanced intelligence sharing within the EU is indispensable, the next paragraph will try to put the difficulties that will have to be overcome and the realistic limits of such a co-operation in a better perspective.

4.1.1 Political obstacles


The ambitioned project of a shared EU intelligence resembles a tightrope walk between the guiding theme of the European Union “unity creates the force” and the credo of secret service agencies all around the world, which is “intelligence is what you don’t want to share”. Indeed all intelligence collectors are concerned about the security of their sources and their method of collecting information in the context of intelligence sharing.[78] As Michael Herman points out:

“Every new foreign exchange or element of cooperation is a new risk, through intelligence penetration of the foreign agency or its users, its careless handling or public leaking of the material, or its deliberate use of it in trading with other intelligence contacts. Multilateral 'clubs' and international networks of exchanges increase these risks geometrically. Security acts as a general counterweight to expansion and is the main reason why the many ad hoc exchanges have a pragmatic and cautious flavour about them.”[79]

In short: a country with sophisticated intelligence networks is unlikely to want to share high-grade assessments with another country unless it thinks it will get a good “trade” in return. Within this context the sharing of raw data of intelligence, just like reports from agents, transcripts of wire-taps or satellite photos or the assessments based on such data have different implications. Governments are naturally more relaxed about sharing analysis than source material. For example passing on a report from an agent in Iraq could endanger his or her life, whereas passing on the assessment of that report need not. With passing on raw data one government’s intelligence is more likely to influence another government, as Charles Grant points out: “a photo of a missile silo is more potent than a report saying ‘there are missile silos.’”[80]

One has to acknowledge that with the multiplication of exchanges of information, potential risks will tend to increase. The only answer is to recognize that security failures are bound to happen. However, even the most disastrous ones do not seem to affect the quality of the relationship in the long run. It must also be taken into account that a multiplicity of co-operating agencies entails also a multiplication of security checks.[81]


[1] See Charles Grant: Intimate relations – can Britain play a leading role in European defence – and keep its special links to US intelligence? Working paper of the Centre for European Reform, London, 2000, p 1.

[2] Citied in the speech of Dr Klaus Scharioth, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, 23 April, 2004.

[3] See official website of the Althea Mission: (22.02.05)

[4] See Michael Warner: Wanted a Definition of Intelligence – Understanding our Craft. In Studies of Intelligence, vol 46, no 3, 2002.

[5] See Mark M. Lowenthal: Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy. 2nd edition. CQ Press, Washington, 2003. Quoted from: Bruneau, Thomas C.; Dombroski, Kenneth R.: Reforming Intelligence: The Challenge of Control in New Democracies. Centre for Civil-Military Relations, Monterey, Faculty Research Paper 2001, p 8.

[6] See Abram N. Shulsky (revised by Gary J. Schmitt): Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence. Brassey’s, Washington 1993, p 111. Quoted from Bruneau/Dombroski 2001, p 11.

[7] Björn Müller-Wille: For our Eyes only – Shaping an Intelligence Community within the EU. Occasional Paper, no 50. Institute for Security Studies Paris, 2004a, p 7.

[8] See official website of the National Criminal Intelligence Service: (30.09.04).

[9] See official website of the Bundeskriminalamt: (30.09.04).

[10] See official website of the European Police Office EUROPOL (03.03.05).

[11] See official website of the MI5 (30.09.04).

[12] See official website of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (30.09.04).

[13] See official website of the UK Defence Intelligence Staff (30.09.04).

[14] See official website of the Militärischer Abschirmdienst der deutschen Bundeswehr. (30.09.04).

[15] See (30.09.04).

[16] See (30.09.04).

[17] See Müller-Wille, 2004a, p 8.

[18] Bruneau/Dombroski 2001, p 2.

[19] See Treaty of Maastricht, Title VI “Provisions on Police and Juridical Cooperation in Criminal Matters”, Article 29, 1992. (03.11.04).

[20] See European Convention: European Police Office, [Official Journal C 316 of 27.11.1995] . (03.11.04).

[21] See official website of EUROJUST: (13.11.04).

[22] See “EU-Declaration on combating terrorism”, 25 March 2004. (30.09.04) resulting of the extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 19 March 2004 in response to the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 15 March 2004. (30.09.04).

[23] Müller-Wille, 2004, p 7

[24] See United States Intelligence Community. (02.10.04)

[25] Ibid.

[26] See Federation of American Scientists: Intelligence Threat Handbook (08.10.04)

[27] US Military Library: Operational Intelligence. (21.02.05).

[28] See Barbara Renne: Die Europäische Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik zwischen Anspruch und Wirklichkeit: Probleme und Perspektiven der EU-Eingreiftruppe unter besonderer Berücksichtigung ihres Verhältnisses zur NATO-Response Force. Heft 134 2000 in der Reihe Hamburger Beiträge zur Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik an der Universität Hamburg. (11.08.04).

[29] Alessandro Politi: Why is European Intelligence Policy Necessary? In: Towards a European intelligence Policy. Chaillot Paper 34, Institute for Security Studies Paris, 1998, p 3.

[30] WEU Assembly Document A/1775: The Challenges Facing European Intelligence – Reply to the Annual Report of the Council. Submitted on behalf of the Defence Committee by Mr Lemoine, 4. June 2002

[31] See Helsinki Headline Goal. Helsinki Presidency Conclusions European Council 10-11 December 1999: (18.08.04)

[32] Andrei Raevsky,: “Managing Arms in Peace Processes: Aspects of Psychological Operations and Intelligence”, Geneva: U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research, (1996), p. 2, cited in: “Conduit or cul-de-sac? Information Flow in Civil Military Operations”, Spring 1999, No 21.

[33] See WEU Assembly Document A/1775, 4. June 2002. Paragraph 19 and 20.

[34] See Ole R Villadsen: Prospects for a European Common Intelligence Policy. In CIA, Studies in Intelligence, no 9, summer 2000.

[35] See Sven Biscop: The European Security Strategy Implementing a Distinctive Approach to Security. In Sécurité et Stratégie, Paper No 82, Royal Institute for International Relations, Brussels, March 2004.

[36] See Peter Andreas and Richard Price: From War Fighting to Crime Fighting. Transforming the American National Security State. In International Studies Review, no3 2002, p.31-51, quoted from Müller-Wille 2004a, p 11.

[37] An intriguing assessment of the privatisation of violence and its effects offers Herfried Münkler in: Die neuen Kriege . Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg, 2002.

[38] Müller-Wille 2004a, p 11.

[39] Robert Steele is a former CIA official, and one of the main initiators of the open-source Intelligence (OSINT) revolution in the United States. Quoted from: Alessandro Politi et al.: Towards a European intelligence Policy. In Chaillot Paper 34, Institute for Security Studies Paris, 1998, p 7.

[40] Alessandro Politi: Why is European Intelligence Policy Necessary? In: Towards a European intelligence Policy. In Chaillot Paper 34, Institute for Security Studies Paris, 1998, p 7.

[41] Klaus Becher: European Intelligence Policy: Political and Military Requirements. In Towards a European Intelligence Policy: Chaillot Paper Nr 34. WEU Institute for Security Studies, Paris, December 1998, p 33.

[42] Ibid

[43] See Becher 1998, p 51.

[44] See official website of the EU Defence Agency (04.03.05).

[45] See European Security Strategy – A Secure Europe in a Better World. Document proposed by Javier Solana and adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the European Council in Brussels on 12 December 2003.

[46] See Cologne Presidency Conclusions, Annex III, June 1999. (11.12.04).

[47] See Council Joint Action on the Establishment of a European Union Satellite Centre of 20 July 2001. (11.12.04).

[48] See Council Decision on the establishment of the Military Staff of the European Union of 22 January 2001. (11.12.04).

[49] WEU Assembly Document A 1775, 2002. Paragraph 58 and 59.

[50] See Müller-Wille 2004a, p 31.

[51] Organisation Chart of the Intranet “Domus” of the Council of the European Union. 24.06.2004.

[52] Günther F. C. Forsteichner: Europäische und Transatlantische Sicherheitsarchitektur. IAP Sonderheft, 1/2003, IAP-Publizistische Gesellschaft für Politik und Zeitgeschehen m. b. H., München, p 55.

[53] See Council Decision on the Establishment of the Military Staff of the European Union, 22.01.2001.

[54] See WEU Report A/1783: European military capabilities in the context of the fight against international terrorism. Paragraph 76. 3 June 2002.

[55] See Forsteichner 2003.

[56] See Florian Güssgen: Of Swiss Army Knives and Diplomacy – A Review of the European Unions Diplomatic Capabilities. Jean Monnet Working Papers in Comparative and International Politics, European University Institute Florence, April 2001.

[57] ibid.

[58] See: Declaration on Combating Terrorism, European Council, Brussels 25. March 2004. (08.12.04).

[59] See Björn Müller-Wille: Building a European Intelligence Community in Response to Terrorism. A bi -monthly news review of European Security and Defence Policy Number 22 April 2004b. Institute for Security Studies Paris

[60] See Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense: Quelle Organisation pour le SITCEN?, Bruxelles 2001, p 5.

[61] See Dirk Koch: Augen und Ohren. In Der SPIEGEL, Ausgabe 8/2003.

[62] See Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense, 2001, p 8.

[63] See: WEU Assembly report A/1775, paragraph 41. 4 June 2002.

[64] See The Economist Intelligence Unit: (25.01.05)

[65] See The Jane’s Intelligence Digest: (25.01.05)

[66] See Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense: Quelle Organisation pour le SITCEN? Bruxelles 2001, p 12.

[67] See: Ferruccio Pastore: Reconciling the Prince’s two ‘arms’. Occasional Paper 30, The Institute for Security Studies Western European Union, Paris, 2001. (25.01.05).

[68] See WEU 1175, 4 June 2002, paragraph 43.

[69] See Richard J. Aldrich: Transatlantic Intelligence and Security Cooperation. In International Affairs, vol 80, no 4, July 2004, Blackwell Publishing (pp731-753) p. 738.

[70] Official press statement on the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Group of the Club of Berne. (16.02.05)

[71] Council documents.

[72] See Müller-Wille, 2004a, p 27

[73] WEU 1175, 2002, paragraph 46.

[74] On several occasions spying utensils have been discovered in the Council’s Justus Lipsius building, see for example: EU probes phone tabs found in office, USA Today, 19.03.2003.

[75] Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense, 2001, p 24.

[76] Müller-Wille 2004a, p 38.

[77] See Institut Royal Supérieur de Défense, 2001, p 25.

[78] Müller-Wille 2004a, p 15

[79] Herman, Michael: Intelligence Power in Peace and War, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1996, p 207.

[80] See Charles Grant: Intimate Relations. Centre for European Reform, London, Working Paper April 2000, p 4.

[81] Politi, 1998, p 5.


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Titel: European External Intelligence Co-Operation