EU finances defence against „hypersonic threats“

Russia, China and North Korea have missiles with very high velocities. The EU cannot yet combat such systems.

For the first time, the EU Commission has released funds from the European Defence Fund. The first €1.2 billion is to be spent on 61 projects, including the development of sixth-generation combat aircraft. The largest chunk, about €100 million, will go to the European Hypersonic Defence Interceptor (EU-HYDEF) project, which is working on systems to detect and defend against so-called hypersonic weapons. This refers to aircraft that fly faster than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5).

Hypersonic weapons exist in various designs. Ballistic missiles, for example, can reach Mach 6 when launched from a fighter jet, which itself flies at supersonic speeds. Hypersonic gliders are constructed in a completely different way. They are transported by a rocket up to a hundred kilometres into orbit, where they circle around the earth. Above the target, they then plunge back into the atmosphere. „EU finances defence against „hypersonic threats““ weiterlesen

Military and secret services: EU gears up for cyber attacks

The German Armed Forces are leading an EU project to coordinate „hackbacks“. Information gathering will be taken over by „cyber intelligence services“.

The European Union is to strengthen its cyber defence capabilities, including the development of „active defence capabilities“. These are then to be deployed jointly in the event of a digital attack on a member state. This is according to a communication on the „EU Policy on Cyber Defence“ issued by EU Foreign Affairs and Security Commissioner Josep Borrell and the Commission on Wednesday. The justification given is the „deteriorating security environment“ following the Russian attack on Ukraine. The EU, its citizens and infrastructures need to be strengthened against a growing number of cyber attacks, the document says. Examples are attacks on energy networks, transport infrastructures and space assets. „Military and secret services: EU gears up for cyber attacks“ weiterlesen

After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational“

Since 2017, the EU has invested in one project alone at least €57 million to counter migration from Libya. The Brussels backers also are worried about their reputation.

Since the so-called „migration crisis“, the European Union has been investing in increased surveillance of Libya’s maritime borders. In 2017, Italy was tasked with installing a maritime coordination centre in the capital Tripoli and establishing a Search And Rescue (SAR) zone, for which Libya has since been solely responsible.

A year later, with Italian support, Libya registered this SAR zone with the United Nations Maritime Organisation. Now, however, it turns out that even after five years of EU support, the associated centre in Libya is in fact „not operational“ at all. This was announced by the High Representative and Vice-President of the EU Commission, Joseph Borrell, in response to a parliamentary question. MEP Özlem Demirel had asked about the EU-funded technology in the centre. „After years of EU funding: Maritime emergency centre in Libya „not operational““ weiterlesen

Laws for „U-Spaces“: More airspace for commercial drones

At an aviation trade fair in Cologne, Deutsche Telekom’s business and the surveillance of commercial drone flights are also on the agenda

As in Hamburg, small civilian drones could soon be conducting test flights within a so-called „U-Space“ airspace in the port of Rotterdam. The „U“, stands for urban. The EU-funded projects aim to coordinate airspaces near the ground where commercial flights of quadrocopters or other, small drones take place with other helicopters or planes flying through. A „U-Space“ is only a few hundred metres high – exactly how high, the EU still wants to determine. This is the purpose of the flights in Hamburg and Rotterdam, which will initially take place on a test basis for up to two years. „Laws for „U-Spaces“: More airspace for commercial drones“ weiterlesen

Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel

Israeli authorities are to be allowed to process and interlink personal information from the EU using „automated procedures“. According to a draft, this would even be possible in the territories occupied after 1967, although the so-called territorial clause excludes this.

Five years ago, EU member states gave the Commission a mandate to start negotiations for a Europol agreement with Israel, after the Estonian Presidency had presented a draft to that effect at the end of 2017. Now the Commission appears to have finished negotiating. The British civil rights organisation Statewatch has posted the document online. The Council and Parliament are now expected to give the green light.

The planned cooperation with the EU police agency is explicitly about the exchange of personal data. All authorities responsible for fighting terrorism and organised crime in Israel would benefit from this. According to the draft, however, it would also cover „product piracy“, „racism and xenophobia“, „swindle“ and „migrant smuggling“. „Police agreement: Europol to exchange biometric data with Israel“ weiterlesen

„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down

Since the Schengen Information System has been run by an EU agency, it has failed completely on at least 34 occasions. The latest incidents are only now being made public.

The Schengen Information System (SIS II), launched in 1995, is the largest European information system. As a police database, it forms the digital backbone of the Schengen Agreement, with which the European Union strengthens the surveillance of its external borders against unwanted migration and cross-border crime. It is queried by the participating authorities of the Schengen states during every police check, but also when applying for documents.

Since 2013, the Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems (eu-LISA ), which was founded a year earlier, has been managing the SIS II central system. It has now become known that the database, which is physically located in Strasbourg, has been completely offline several times since then. This is what the EU Commission writes in the not yet officially available answer to a written question by MEP Cornelia Ernst. This led, accordingly, to a „degradation and partial unavailability of some of the functionalities of the system“. „„Partial unavailability“: Largest EU police database repeatedly down“ weiterlesen

Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows“

In an Open Letter, eleven organisations criticise the creation of an infrastructure for predictive migration technologies. The tool, which is also supposed to anticipate „tensions“, is based on „artificial intelligence“. It could therefore contradict a forthcoming EU regulation.

To prevent or at least control unwanted migration, the European Union has various tools at its disposal to support its member states. Central to this is the border agency Frontex, which monitors the EU external borders with satellites, aircraft and drones. Frontex also conducts regular reconnaissance of the „pre-frontier area“ far from European shores. With 30 African states, the agency has started its own network for this purpose, which also processes intelligence information.

Now the EU Commission wants to go one step further. With the help of data from various sources, a so-called EUMigraTool is to predict and control „migration flows“ in Europe. The modelling and prediction is to be carried out using „deep learning“. In its first stage, theEUMigraTool is not intended to support the deterrence, but the reception, resettlement and relocation of refugees. Several civil society organisations and individuals nevertheless demand in an open letter that the project be stopped. „Criticism over research: EU Commission funds platform to predict „migration flows““ weiterlesen

„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption

At a conference hosted by the EU police agency, three ways to decrypt communications and storage media were discussed. One of the approaches was apparently pushed by the Bavarian State Office of Criminal Investigation.

For at least seven years, EU member states have been looking for ways to give their law enforcement agencies access to encrypted content. Time and again, the Council, which consists of the 27 governments, has stressed the importance of encryption for secure communications and supposedly ruled out backdoors. Like the EU Commission, the EU states instead relied on infecting mobile phones with governmental spyware to read encrypted messenger services. The encryption of seized devices or storage media, on the other hand, was planned to be broken with the help of supercomputers.

But now the establishment of a common vulnerability management is back on the agenda of European police and judicial authorities. Under the leadership of the EU police agency Europol, about 70 participants discussed a possible „EU policy“ in this area – for example, whether security vulnerabilities in software should not be reported immediately to the manufacturers, but should be exploited for the programming of state spying tools. This is according to the transcript of a conference of the „EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security“ published by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch. At the end of a „Round Table on Encryption“, those responsible had assured that they wanted to tackle the „wicked problem“ at EU level. „„Wicked problem“: Europol considers vulnerability exploitation to break encryption“ weiterlesen

Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere

With high-altitude platforms, the EU border agency aims to close the gap between its planes, drones and satellites.

Frontex could in future have high-flying platforms deployed for surveillance from the stratosphere. In this way, the European Border Agency wants to close the gap between aircraft and satellites, which are already used for border surveillance. A corresponding research project is to begin on 1 October 2022 and last 36 months, the EU Commission announced in its answer to a parliamentary question. Accordingly, the EU financial support amounts to around €5.8 million.

The EU Commission had already published a call for tenders for so-called high-altitude platforms working on behalf of Frontex a year ago. Now the Commission has published details of the plans on its website. Accordingly, the contract for an „advanced surveillance platform to improve the EURopean Multi Authority BordeR Security efficiency and cooperation“ (EURMARS) was awarded to a consortium of 16 companies, ministries, authorities and institutes from 12 Member States. „Border surveillance: Frontex installs cameras in the stratosphere“ weiterlesen

Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed

So far, only EU states and Europol are allowed to access databases at Interpol, but soon Frontex and the new public prosecutor’s office will be allowed to do so as well. The EU Parliament has drawn red lines for the negotiations.

As an intergovernmental organisation, Interpol aims to facilitate international police cooperation in the field of terrorism and serious crime. With 195 member countries, it is the largest organisation of its kind in the world, run by the General Secretariat in Lyon, France. However, it is an informal, i.e. private association, because Interpol is not linked to any other international organisation.

Interpol already cooperates with law enforcement agencies of the European Union at various levels and in various projects, including „integrated border management“ in addition to the organisation’s actual areas of responsibility. This cooperation is now to be carried out under a new agreement. The EU Commission already presented a proposal for this in the spring of last year. However, the negotiations are at a standstill. „Plans for more data exchange: EU agreement with Interpol delayed“ weiterlesen