Most of the action is being taken by Europol and Frontex, which together have deployed around 280 staff to the region. Eurojust collects evidence against war crimes. The agency for the operation of large databases, on the other hand, plays a minor role.
At the end of March, the European Council called on its member states to better coordinate the reception of refugees from Ukraine. In addition to this ten-point plan and initial emergency financial aid of €668 million, the government in Kiev is being supported by individual member states in the security sector with military aid against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The EU is providing €2.5 billion for this purpose. On 25 July 2022, the European Investment Bank approved an additional €1.6 billion aid package for reconstruction.
Less well known is the support provided by EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies, some of which are also carrying out extensive operations in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. As a „network of JHA agencies“, they published a joint statement with a „commitment to assist“ just two weeks after the war began. Some of them participate in the „Working Group on Integrated Political Crisis Response“, through which the EU aims to react on security incidents. A recently published overview describes the different activities. „Terrorism, crime, migration: Nine EU agencies active because of Ukraine war“ weiterlesen
Since 2016, the EU border agency has been given considerably more power. A new management post is now responsible for the currently established armed border force, a deportation unit and data retention.
With two new regulations, the Council of the European Union and the Parliament have equipped the border agency Frontex with new capabilities and competences. Since 2016, Frontex has been allowed to acquire vehicles, aircraft and drones and decide on their deployment there after approval by a host state. The 2019 regulation also provides for the establishment of a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 officers reporting directly to the headquarters in Warsaw. The 2019 Regulation also allows Frontex to prepare and conduct deportation flights on its own. In addition, the „Standing Corps“ will also take over the establishment and operation of a huge new database for personal travel information.
Frontex was given a new command structure for the three new areas. For the first time, the Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri is assisted by three Deputy Directors. The positions were advertised a year ago and appointed in October. Together with their superior, they have sole authority over all operations. The Frontex Regulation guarantees that no other body has authority over the management of the border agency. „New Frontex command structures: Vice directors begin their work“ weiterlesen
The German EU Presidency wants to enable police forces and secret services to circumvent end-to-end encrypted communication or to use technical tools to defeat it.
A look at the activities carried out over the past five years allows some conclusions about who is particularly committed to the new crypto war. In its wake, Europol is also developing new capabilities for using Trojans and cracking encrypted storage media. „How it all began: Five years of fight against end-to-end encryption“ weiterlesen
European police authorities have numerous applications for communication and information exchange. Member States are now developing another platform for large-scale police operations and terrorist attacks. The European domestic secret services have a similar system.
Several European police authorities are developing a new system for the exchange of information in real time. Under the name „Quick Response for Operational Centers“ (QROC), the affiliated units are to coordinate their response following a terrorist attack. The instrument could also be used to provide support in case of major events and crises. Several Member States are currently looking for appropriate solutions, and corresponding efforts are also being made in the context of the Corona crisis.
According to the project’s website, the exchange of data on events and persons possibly involved could subsequently be carried out via the so-called „Swedish Initiative“. The Council Framework Decision of 2006 sets short deadlines for the cross-border transfer of personal data. It would also be possible to use the Prüm Framework, which enables the responsible services throughout Europe to query biometric data or data on vehicle owners. „EU police forces plan new information system“ weiterlesen
Following the example of the US Department of Defense, Europol should coordinate European security research. In October, the EU interior ministers had decided on an „Innovation Laboratory“ at the Police Agency. Due to potential confusion, the department will now be renamed.
Since 1984, the European Union has organised its civil security research in multi-annual framework programmes, the current programme is called „Horizon 2020“. Arms companies are involved in many of these projects; they are conducting research with institutes and authorities on drone tanks for border control, stopping „non-cooperative vehicles“ with electromagnetic pulses or observing cities and borders by satellite. International agreements enable the involvement of third countries, for example Israel’s largest drone manufacturer has been involved in numerous projects for decades. „Europol steers arms companies for security research“ weiterlesen
The German police also uses a „decryption platform“ at Europol. The system belongs to an „innovation laboratory“ and is currently being equipped with new technology. The EU Commission will soon decide whether Europol should also handle the decryption of secure connections.
Since 2014, Europol has been offering Member States support in decrypting data carriers or mobile phones. The unit is based at the „Centre for Combating Cybercrime“ (EC3), which was set up a year earlier at the headquarters of the EU Police Agency in The Hague. What forensic tools Europol uses for this purpose is not answered by the European Commission, which is responsible for the functioning of the EU agencies.
According to Europol’s annual report for 2018, the „decryption platform“ has been requested 32 times since its creation, in 12 cases successfully. Operations are carried out in various fields, including cybercrime, drug trafficking and migrant smuggling. According to the German government, the services are also available to third states. „Backdoors vs. Trojans: Europol is examining „solutions“ against end-to-end encryption“ weiterlesen
For four years, Austria is in charge of the EU network of special units. The head of the Cobra decided on a closer connection to the EU police agency. This also applies to military forces that assume tasks in the field of internal security.
The Network of European special units now has a permanent „Support Office“ at the Europol Police Agency in The Hague. The so-called ATLAS network has been based at Europol’s Anti-Terror Centre (ECTC) since 1 January. A corresponding decision was already taken in 2017, but only last October Europol concluded a contract with Austria’s Minister of the Interior Herbert Kickl. It regulates the tasks that Europol performs for the special units and is intended to guarantee the independence of the troops. For example, the office will not be financed by Europol, but by the EU funds earmarked for ATLAS.
The now opened „Support Office“ consists of permanent staff with management functions and police or gendarmerie officers from the member states will also be seconded to The Hague. The cooperation is to be evaluated by June 2020. „European Anti-Terrorist Force now coordinated at Europol“ weiterlesen
European special units have trained in seven EU member states for terrorist attacks. The aim of the exercise was to harden against „Islamist“ as well as „right-wing or left-wing ideologies“.
European special task forces held a Europe-wide exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday to deal with „terrorist situations“. The police units wanted to train the common approach to attacks and hostage-takings. According to the Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg, the individual scenarios were conceived „realistically based on past attack scenarios“.
The exercises were carried out via the ATLAS network, in which 38 special police units from all EU Member States as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are organised. Founded after the attacks of 11 September 2001, the network has been part of the EU structures since 2008. „Europe-wide anti-terror exercise coordinated by Europol“ weiterlesen
Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy. Translation by Viktoria Langer
The formal process of developing and implementing EU counter-terrorism law and policy begins with the heads of government, in the European Council, setting out strategic guidelines. Thereafter, the Commission produces proposals for laws and policies that are discussed by the Council of the EU (made up of government officials) and the Parliament. However, this formal task-sharing between the institutions of the EU does not say much about the power relations and impulses surrounding counter-terrorism policy. „Who drives EU counter-terrorism? On the legislation of the European Union“ weiterlesen
More security-critical behaviour in Europe!
At the latest since 9/11, the EU took severe changes in their home affairs policy. New agreements and institutions were created to facilitate police networking (Europol, Frontex, CEPOL, new databases and their shared access). The european „cross border crime fighting“ has become an EU framework. Providing that this should help to win a „war on terrorism“, lots of the changes follow the US model of „Homeland Security“. Risks“ should be minimized by taking more and more „proactive“ measures and foresee possible „threats“.
This includes the development of an „Homeland Security Industrial Complex“, whose budget is growing rapidly since 2001. The EU set up the research program „FP7“, that should help to find technical solutions for the discrete, but efficient surveillance and control. Both the research and the implementation of these new technologies are common projects of the security industry, military and police. This includes the usage of satellite pictures (whose resolution is now down to 50cm), drones (that are used in the EU already for catching migrants), geo-data/ mapping and several technics for border control. Satellites help to detect for example automatically deviant behaviour of vehicles (like migrants vessels). „Collapsing the European security architecture“ weiterlesen