Terrorism, crime, migration: Nine EU agencies active because of Ukraine war

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

EU instead of EC: New directive facilitates cross-border data exchange

The 2006 „Swedish Initiative“ is being replaced by a new set of rules. This „Lisbonization“ of EU-wide information exchange comes with a uniform case management system and file format, and requires shorter deadlines for processing requests.

The European Union could soon adopt a new directive on information exchange between law enforcement agencies. The Commission had presented a proposal to this effect in December as part of its „Police Code“.

At the upcoming Council of Interior Ministers in Luxembourg on June 10, the member states want to decide their position vis-à-vis the Parliament. Then the so-called trilogue negotiations of the three EU legislative bodies can begin. „EU instead of EC: New directive facilitates cross-border data exchange“ weiterlesen

Strategic Compass: EU to get new secret service centre

The two EU secret service situation centres could soon be merged into a single institution. Their surveillance capacities are currently being expanded. Operational competences are also under discussion.

The European Commission wants to take the cooperation of intelligence services within the EU to a new level. In her „State of the Union“ address last September, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promoted the establishment of a Joint Situational Awareness Centre. How it should differ from other intelligence structures, however, remained unclear.

Now the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has also commented on the matter. In his answer to a parliamentary question, Josep Borell writes that „discussions“ on the joint centre will continue within the framework of the Strategic Compass. These are new guidelines for the Common Security and Defence Policy. They should help to make the military efforts of the EU and its member states more operational. „Strategic Compass: EU to get new secret service centre“ weiterlesen

Proposals for new Europol Regulation

The EU police agency is to process more „big data“ and receive personal data from private companies. Preventive cooperation with third countries will be expanded, this also concerns secret services.

On 9 December last year, the EU Commission presented a proposal to extend Europol’s mandate. The police agency could therefore initiate investigations itself without waiting for an initiative from a member state. This should also be possible if only one country is involved. Up to now, Europol’s competence has been limited to cases involving two or more member states.

In addition to improved cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EuPPO) and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), cooperation with third countries for the „prevention“ of criminal offences is to be expanded. „Proposals for new Europol Regulation“ weiterlesen

The EU in Crypto War

Once again, the EU member states demand the weakening of encryption, associations and activists protest vehemently

The German EU Council Presidency wants to pass a resolution to give police forces and secret services easier access to encrypted communications. Operators of end-to-end encrypted services are to provide the authorities with opportunities to intercept. This would apply to platforms such as Signal or WhatsApp, which encrypt their data streams in general. Telegram also offers its users this option, but the end-to-end encryption must be set separately in the app.

On December 3, the resolution drafted by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior is to be discussed and adopted at the Council of Interior Ministers in Brussels. The British civil rights organization Statewatch had put a first draft online, and on Sunday the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) published a new version. It functionalizes the recent attack in Vienna as a necessity for competent authorities to read encrypted communication. „The EU in Crypto War“ weiterlesen

Anti-terrorism at walking pace: Little European Union action against right-wing extremists

Only after the attack in Christchurch did the EU Commission and the Council take violent right-wing extremism and terrorism more seriously. However, no progress has been made in the cross-border fight against the phenomenon. Some Member States are putting the brakes on political decisions and consider terrorist attacks only as „extremism“.

On 15 March 2019, the Australian-born right-wing terrorist Brenton Tarrant shot 51 people in cold blood and injured another 50 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The perpetrator is considered a „lone wolf“ or „lone actor“, i.e. an individual who has radicalised himself in right-wing forums and social media on the internet. For many years, European police and secret services have monitored and prosecuted the phenomenon exclusively in the field of Islamist terrorism. Only after the momentous attack did cross-border right-wing networks and „lone actors“ radicalised through their structures find their way onto the EU agenda.

There are well-organised right-wing extremist associations such as Blood and Honour, Combat 18, Hammerskins, Soldiers of Odin, the Nordic Resistance Movement or the Identitarians, which all operate throughout Europe and also have connections on other continents. Their activities were partly observed by the EU, but not perceived as a threat. The EU police agency Europol publishes the „Trend Report on Terrorism in Europe“ (TESAT) every year. There, „right-wing terrorism“ is still at the end of the document after „jihadist terrorism“, „ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism“ and „left-wing terrorism“, where Europol counts mainly arson attacks in the member states. „Anti-terrorism at walking pace: Little European Union action against right-wing extremists“ weiterlesen

EU surveillance state

The EU is increasing the surveillance in its Member States. US authorities could soon also wiretap legally in Europe

The new European Parliament is to be constituted in September, after which the EU Commission will be re-elected. The governments of the member states use this phase to put far-reaching surveillance measures on track. This week the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers debated this on their Council meeting in Luxembourg.

Data retention is right at the top of the agenda. EU-wide, Internet and telephone providers are to be forced to store data on customers and their communications for years. If necessary, these could later be queried by police authorities or secret services. Although the European Union adopted a corresponding directive in 2006, it was declared invalid ten years later by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). As a result, many member states issued national regulations that differ in the depth of intervention or storage period. „EU surveillance state“ weiterlesen

Military intelligence for Europol

The EU plans to strengthen the linkages between its internal and external security structures. In future, military information will increasingly be used in combating terrorism and organised crime. Cooperation is being tested first in the field of migration.

The European Union is planning the establishment of „Crime Information Cells“ (CIC) for the exchange of data between the police, military and secret services. The intention of the players involved is to reinforce the „external dimension of internal security“. The “Crime Information Cells” would strengthen linkages between civil and military EU missions. This would apply to Common Security and Defence Policy missions (CSDP) and the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), which fall within the remit of the European External Action Service or European Commission. „Military intelligence for Europol“ weiterlesen