The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Government must scrap its compromises over EU military schemes

eumilitarystaffVeterans for Britain, supported by the Bruges Group, bring an urgent message to Manchester on Monday 2 October: we need full Brexit for defence and an end to recent UK commitments to the EU that have a nasty sting in the tail.

Since the Brexit vote, the UK has given a green light to the juggernaut of EU military schemes on the understanding we would be outside of them.

However, government position papers incredibly propose STAYING IN joint EU schemes on military finance, research and assets.

The schemes, which have never been voted on by MPs, would mean the UK staying in EU Common Defence Policy, the European Defence Agency and even EU defence procurement directives. Norway is the only non-EU country in the schemes and was obliged to accept these rules.

The PM has rightly declared the UK’s unconditional commitment to Europe’s defence via NATO.

However, we fear that MPs and ministers are not aware of the full implications of a Norway-style military union agreement. Many civil servants are aware of these implications and are pushing for UK entry relentlessly.

At the same time as these new EU military finance and structure schemes are being agreed, the EU is growing the remit of its Common Security and Defence Policy in a way that consolidates its control over EU Council-agreed military responses. The EU’s new military HQ, the MPCC, which UK diplomats tried in vain to change, is just a small part of this.

The EU is also tightening defence asset production rules to make an EU defence market in which member state governments will find it impossible to protect domestic defence jobs and industry eg Scottish shipyards in the UK’s case.

Sadly, the Government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy of September 2017 fully adheres to the latest EU rules in cross-border defence tendering – clearly anticipating a future where the UK would need to comply.

It is essential that at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester delegates are made aware of the risk to Scottish shipyards, particularly Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Conservatives team. The UK is heading towards a scenario where it is dictated by these EU procurement rules which will only become more assertive when the UK is fully committed to them.

‘Dodging the EU bullet’

Speakers: Major-General Julian Thompson, Colonel Richard Kemp, Captain Will Carver & Geoffrey Van Orden MEP

Monday 2nd Oct 11.00 at Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA

For more info on the commitments made by the UK to the EU military juggernaut and the risks posed from the proposal to stay in them, see:

http://veteransforbritain.uk/dexeus-defence-partnership-paper-is-a-grave-mistake-and-gives-the-eu-control/

and

https://www.brugesgroup.com/blog/the-uk-is-stuck-in-a-quagmire-over-eu-defence-union

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The Five Eyes - Security after Brexit

The UK will continue to thrive due to its existing linguistic and intelligence connections

1st August 2017
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I come from a family who have served on Five Continents for their country in both military and civilian platforms. As such, I became aware of the Five Eyes as a youngster.  The Five Eyes is a joint intelligence community comprising of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the United States.   Initially the Five Eyes or FVEY was formed in 1941. It is therefore arguable, given the geographical locations of its members and their historical endurance, that no amount of pressure from the EU will cause it to falter.

 

FVEY operates beyond the remit of the EU. All are members of NATO and this will not change irrespective of Brexit. Brexit is inconsequential in matters of Intelligence.  Few in the Remain camp have even acknowledged this central pillar of British government that will endure beyond the legal confinements of any Brexit deal that London has with Brussels, if such a deal is even achieved.  The UKUSA Agreement of 1946 may have evolved, but nevertheless it shall remain a core part of British domestic and foreign security information gathering and sharing post-Brexit.

 

Cooperation between Five Eyes members will be ongoing, parallel to any changes within the EU.  Whereas some MPs feel that Britain will be left 'out in the cold,' (as if a new Cold War has developed), historical facts and agreements between the Five Eyes members will ensure this does not happen.  Unlike their European counterparts, the Five eyes all share the same language which in terms of intelligence communication can only be of significant benefit to all concerned.

 

According to James Cox, “Precise assignments are not publicly known, but research indicates that Australia monitors South and East Asia emissions. New Zealand covers the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.  The UK devotes attention to Europe and Western Russia, while the US monitors the Caribbean, China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa.”[1] It is hard to argue in any way that these arrangements will somehow change after the UK formally leaves the EU.

 

Incidentally, Human Intelligence gathering will not change post-Brexit. Signals Intelligence gathering will also remain unchanged. The other forms of Intelligence gathering will also be unaffected by the process of Brexit.  So too the agencies such as GCHQ, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Central Intelligence Agency. These pillars will continue to support the national security of their respective countries independently and jointly when necessary.

 

There are numerous challenges ahead for the Five Eyes, once the UK takes her place back on the International stage.  These challenges will not be compounded by Brexit, but they could be alleviated by them.  Terrorism goes beyond the EU. So, too kidnappings and murders. Crime has become high tech and so too have the agencies targeting them.

 

Overall, it can be argued that the UK will continue to thrive due to its existing linguistic and intelligence connections. We must remember and acknowledge that the UK's Intelligence community is one of the oldest and most respected in the world, on top of being part of the Five Eyes.

 

By James Coghlan

 


[1] Canada and the Five Eyes Intelligence Community, James Cox, Strategic Studies Working Group Papers, December 2012, page 4

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Government Agrees to EU Military

Five concerns for the UK arising from the EU Defence Union

14th June 2017
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There are five main areas which the EU has been pursuing in order to establish what it calls an ‘EU Defence Union’ across the 28 EU countries, including the UK.

1. Procurement policy and incentives

2. Finance

3. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO

4. UK defeat over HQ

5. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

 

Since 23rd June 2016, the UK has made commitments in each of these above areas of defence with no debate in the British Parliament. Each one is described in more detail below:

 

1. Procurement policy and incentives

The UK has agreed to…

  • More power for the EU to enforce EU-wide tendering in defence contracts
  • An expanding remit for the EU over defence industrial strategy and joint-built assets
  • An expanding remit for the EU in purchasing and conduct of joint-owned assets
  • Incentives for UK defence companies to engage long-term with the developing EU-wide industrial strategy

 

The only reason the UK is permitted to build its own aircraft carriers is by using an exemption to the EU Procurement Directive. The exemption is known as the security clause (Article 346) and is permitted when a member state feels there is a national security reason to reserve production for its domestic market. The European Commission is tightening application of the clause following a review in 2016 and has gained the consent of member states to do so.

(EU Council Conclusions, 14 November 2016)

The EDA and EU Commission have a benchmark of achieving 35% pan-EU equipment procurement.

(EDA Benchmarks)

 

UK ministers have approved measures that allow the European Defence Agency to have a greater role in standardisation and certification.

(EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 18 May 2017)

 

These measures would amplify EU influence in the trading conditions of the defence sector and an additional tool for the enforcement of policy. For example, certification and mutual recognition of standards might be used as a barrier to entry to UK exporters in years ahead in the same way that EU ‘standards’ produce a barrier to non-EU exporters in other sectors. Conversely, certification and standards could be used as an incentive for UK manufacturers and policymakers to adhere to EU policy. Either way, the changes bring a measure of additional control to the European Commission.

 

The EU refers to EU defence industrial strategy as the European Defence Technology and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and has more recently started using the term ‘Single Market for Defence’. With the objective of ‘reducing duplication, the EU intends to integrate this market under coordinated joint projects and an EU-controlled policy environment. The aim is for the resulting combined EU defence industrial strategy to serve the needs of the EU’s ‘new level of ambition’ in a military context.

 

This above agreement on standardisation and certification is an additional method of directing the integration of the EDTIB beyond the two already mentioned previously: 1. enforcement of the pan-EU Procurement Directive and 2. financial incentives via the European Defence Fund.

 

The EU Commission could conceivably tell the UK after Brexit that ‘access’ to its newly coordinated ‘Single Market for Defence’ requires adherence to the Procurement Directive. Also, now that UK participation in the European Defence Fund’s imminent incentive programmes is being concluded, UK ‘withdrawal’ could be viewed by the EU as an act that warrants retaliation or requires UK concessions.

 

2. Finance

The UK has agreed to…

  • The creation of the EU's first central military budget, the European Defence Fund
  • The use of European Investment Bank money (16% UK shareholding) for the European Defence Fund
  • The creation of a Cooperative Financial Mechanism (CFM) to augment the European Defence Agency
  • The creation of a Coordinated Annual Review of Defence (CARD), a mechanism which sees the EU offer financial incentives for adherence to EU planning over member state defence budgets.

 

The European Defence Fund will begin with a budget of only a few billion euros, but this money will be dangled in front of policy makers and defence companies to steer them towards joint activity and a policy environment that is under EU authority.

 

Millions of euros have already been placed into an "unprecedented level of engagement" with defence companies including defence industry conferences in the UK financed by the EU Commission, which started in April (Southampton) and are continuing throughout 2017 (Bournemouth etc).

 

UK companies are being invited to bid for the first tranche of European Defence Fund money in June 2017, via an EU Commission / EDA programme known as PADR (Preparatory Action for Defence Research). The programme is even being promoted by the UK Defence Solutions Centre, a UK-Government-funded unit which was formed to boost output of UK defence companies.

 

According to the EU Commission and EEAS, the Cooperative Financial Mechanism “will strengthen the European Defence Agency” as a central EU defence capabilities tool. The mechanism appears to be separate to the European Defence Fund. It is designed to manage member states’ money in a joint budget and will be spent on EDA research projects, military units conjoined under Permanent Structured Cooperation and joint assets.

 

This added financial firepower for the EDA overrides many years of policy by UK ministers who argued that the EDA’s scope and budget should be restricted.

(European Defence Agency ministerial steering board, 18th May 2017)

 

The UK Government has a 16% (EUR 39 billion) stake in the EIB, the same as Italy, France and Germany (the four largest shareholders). The EU Commission is changing the lending criteria of the EIB to ensure it supports the European Defence Fund. The EIB is an instrument of the EU and operates in adherence to EU policy. There has been no confirmation of whether the UK will withdraw from the EIB, but to remain a shareholder would mean a level of participation in EU policy. The EIB has placed funds into infrastructure projects in the UK including Crossrail and the Manchester Metrolink.

 

The UK’s consent to EIB funding for UK defence industries provides the EU with additional locks on UK participation in EU defence policy and on its EIB shareholding. These additional locks were made after the UK’s referendum on EU membership and add to the task of unravelling these links after Brexit.

 

3. Intelligence, Battlegroups and PESCO

The UK has agreed to…

  • An increased size, scope and infrastructure of the EU’s military intelligence agency as a central ‘hub’.
  • Participation in a 2019 EU Battlegroup under EU Council control. Approval given pre-referendum. No confirmation from MOD about whether it is cancelled or continuing.
  • Drop objections to Permanent Structured Cooperation (first version of permanent military unification) by willing member states. MOD will not confirm whether the UK is staying out or not.

 

The European External Action Service (the EU’s ‘foreign ministry’) has put forward plans to grow the role of its intelligence agency known as the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). (EU Council conclusions in Security Defence, 6 March 2017 and 18 May 2017).

 

SIAC is composed of the EU Military Staff Intelligence Directorate and the 'civilian' EU INTCEN. The EU Council agreed to develop them as an EU "hub for strategic information, early warning and comprehensive analysis".

Member States, including the UK, have been asked to consider initiatives and ways to interact with these plans. (Security and Defence Implementation Plan, 14 November 2016).

 

The UK was scheduled to lead an EU Battlegroup in Jan-Jun 2019. The MOD will not state whether Britain’s participation will be cancelled or proceed.

 

4. UK defeat over the HQ

The UK has agreed to...

  • The reordering of EU agencies to include ‘permanent planning’ of EU defence missions and a ‘coordinated military command chain’.
  • The creation of a permanent military HQ with staff responsible for strategy and operations. It was kept as a non-executive function of the EU, but executive power over EU military developments rests with the EU Council and EU Commission.
  • Drop its objections to the wordings that describe the new HQ (May 2017) because previous approval in March 2017 had made later objections invalid.

 

The EU Council, with UK consent, has agreed to reorder the European External Action Service to "develop the necessary structures and capabilities for the permanent planning and conduct of CSDP missions and operations" with "distinct but coordinated civilian and military chains of command".

 

These will work under the political control, strategy and leadership of the EU Council's Political and Security Committee.

(EU Council Conclusions, 14 November 2016, with UK ministerial approval. Confirmed by EU Council heads of government conclusions, 15 December 2016)

 

The plans include the creation of an operational HQ, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC). While the UK made an issue of the MPCC being prevented from having executive powers, this was a pointless fight as the executive power over the MPCC’s deployments already resides with the EU Council.

(EU Council Conclusions, 6 March 2017. Confirmed by EU Council conclusions, 18 May 2017)

 

5. Contradicting statements over UK involvement.

The UK has agreed to...

  • Participate in measures that apply to UK defence without the approval of Parliament, nor even a debate.
  • Participate in developing plans until at least March 2019, possibly March 2022 or even longer.
  • Provide the EU with several new powers over UK defence and a new bargaining chip for the EU.
  • Accept measures that mean a more complicated and time-consuming withdrawal process that the UK didn’t face before the first of the EU Defence Union agreements in November 2016.
  • Provisional statements on PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation) while keeping open the prospect of UK participation in PESCO and the EU Council-controlled EU Battlegroups in 2019.

 

Each time new agreements are made, additional hours will need to be spent on severing EU ties and controls. New agreements are currently being formed in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research. This will impact upon several departments of government.

 

The duration of UK involvement might be expected to be until March 2019 (the anticipated end of Britain’s membership) and possibly March 2022 (end of a three-year transition deal which requires adherence to EU policy) and potentially even longer. Until then, even adhering to new EU measures (in finance, intelligence, regulation, procurement strategy, joint assets, joint missions and research) will add complexity to the UK’s exit negotiations, potentially extending the duration of the exit process.

 

Not a single one of these agreements at the EU Council has ever been mentioned in the House of Commons, let alone subject to a vote by MPs. All defence agreements at the EU Council take the UK further down the road of military integration and have had an immediate effect regarding UK participation. The EU Commission immediately embarked on a dialogue with UK defence companies about incentives to participate in EU defence integration projects.

 

EU Council conclusions are considered by the EU commission to have been co-authored by UK diplomats. Therefore, if a minister does not raise objection during an EU Council meeting, conclusions are considered to represent a joint direction, or consent, of all member states.

 

The EU Commission has stated that agreements the UK enters as a member state “must be carried out in full” while the UK remains subject to the EU’s treaties.

 

In addition, the EU has said it is not willing to even begin to discuss UK withdrawal from EU defence arrangements until a withdrawal agreement has been settled and “all other matters” agreed, because defence is “too important to be a part of the main negotiations”. This means the UK will be obliged to adhere to these rapidly developing measures for at least two years to 2019 and there is a real possibility of the UK being tied in for an additional transition period of three years up to 2022.

 

The Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan wrote to the European Scrutiny Committee chairman in December 2016 to inform the committee of the plans and agreements the UK was entering, as is required under UK Parliamentary protocols. Sir Alan Duncan told the committee there were parts of the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (SDIP) which his team 'liked' and no decision had yet been made over the quantum of UK involvement and for how long. This may be contrasted with the Foreign Secretary's October and November statements that the UK did not wish to prevent the EU27 from participating in agreements in which the UK had no interest itself in participating.

 

The European Scrutiny Committee marked Sir Alan Duncan's letter and corresponding agreements as 'politically important' to have them discussed in the relevant Parliamentary Select Committees of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Exiting the EU.

 

Meanwhile, the EU Commission will know it may now employ all of the UK’s recent set of agreements in defence as a bargaining chip, a threat, a delaying tactic and a deepening ‘binding agent’ to EU membership. It is conceivable that EU officials will cite the example of UK defence companies who have the promise of European Defence Fund money as a means of influencing or undermining perceptions among UK observers or negotiators in the realm of defence.

 

Finally, an answer we received from the MOD (19 May 2016) said that the British government had not ruled out joining PESCO in spite of its control by EU Council and CSDP:

“Decisions on UK engagement with CSDP after we leave the EU, including with initiatives such as PESCO, will be part of the wider negotiations.”

 

A UK Rep spokesperson had earlier (18 May 2016) told us the UK might participate in the EU Battlegroups after Brexit, which is also controlled by the EU and CSDP.

By David Banks, Veterans for Britain

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EU security and counter-terrorism control after Brexit

Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, argues that the UK must retain membership of the EU’s law enforcement agency (Europol) after Brexit, even if this means “accepting EU rules and judicial oversight for the European Court of Justice (ECJ).” This is not real Brexit and nor will it make us safer, in fact quite the reverse.

5th June 2017
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Security is the new defining issue of both British and European politics. Even the United States is concerned that Europe’s problem is a danger for us all. It will also form the key issue in the Article 50 Brexit negotiations, or at least so the Government hopes. According to The Daily Telegraph, the Cabinet meeting of 7th March 2017, which approved the strategy for PM Theresa May’s opening gambit in her soon to be sent Article 50 letter mentioned security no less than 11 times.

 

This was seen as using ‘blackmail’ and ‘threats’ and taking advantage of the fear of Russia. The governments thinking is that security is the ‘defining issue for the EU.’ And that the government believes that this issue gives Britain a ‘very strong hand’ in its forthcoming negotiations with Brussels.[i] It is surprising that a Conservative Government would see benefits in the fact that the EU’s eastern frontier is unstable and, in the view of some, vulnerable to Russian aggression.

 

Theresa May has not been alone in taking a robust approach to the EU and playing the security card. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that the UK could stop co-operation with Europol. Perhaps the British government may even come out of the European Arrest Warrant… but that may be too much to hope for.

 

The flip side of the Government’s perceived threats not to participate in security measurers, if no trade deal is forthcoming, is that if the EU does acquiesce to Britain’s demands then the UK will support and participate in Brussels ambitions in this area.

 

The benefit of the European Arrest Warrant and EU led police, judicial and intelligence cooperation is itself highly questionable. There are other ways with which a post-Brexit UK can still cooperate with other nations, and attempt to keep its citizens safe. Click here to read a recent article which details how this can be achieved.

 

There is a presumption that intelligence and data sharing via the EU is a good thing. This is not necessarily so. Compelling the UK to share information breaches the cardinal rule of intelligence, control over that information. Indeed, the US intelligence agencies drew the ire of the British government after they leaked information on the Manchester terror attack. The BBC reported that police stopped passing America information on the Manchester attack.[ii] Yet, even bigger issues are at stake. The effectiveness of how best to protect people is at stake and the independence of our security services from Brussels.

 

Dominic Grieve, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, argues that the UK must retain Europol membership after Brexit, even if this means “accepting EU rules and judicial oversight for the European Court of Justice (ECJ)”.[iii] In these times, the European Union is being touted by some unformed remainers as an answer to Europe’s terror threat.

 

In the referendum, they warned that Brexit will mean that the UK will be outside of Europol. This would not be a bad scenario as its officers are ‘immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity’. Yet, the Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, recently stated that a post-Brexit UK can indeed still cooperate with the EU’s law enforcement agency. So, the arguments used by Remain in the referendum were clearly false. Yet, is the EU and coordination of security the answer to our safety? Some would argue that it has exacerbated the terrorist problem we now face.

 

EU Freedom of Movement was described by Ron Noble, the Head of Interpol, as “like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe.”[iv] He is not alone in his criticism. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, stated that Brexit is a security gain as it will allow us to have "greater control over immigration from the European Union."[v] Indeed EU Directive 2004/38 stipulates that an immigrants criminal record is not grounds to refuse entry to the UK.

 

Sir Richard’s assessment of EU security agencies is that "...though the UK participates in various European and Brussels-based security bodies, they are of little consequence." Ultimately his assessment is that these bodies have no operational capacity and are mainly forums for the exchange of ideas.

 

Just because these bodies are ineffectual is not the only problem. The even more significant issue is that EU led intelligence will detract from Britain’s participation in global bodies such as the ‘Five Eyes’ Intelligence-sharing partnership.[vi]

 

Another layer of EU bureaucracy taking over intelligence is no substitute for effective national control. Yet this emerging bureaucracy, indeed it has several new tiers, is exactly what Brussels is putting into place. And perhaps even keeping a post-Brexit UK tied into their structure. The EU has created Eurojust, the European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit, and in 2010, as a part of Europol, they established in 2010 the European Cybercrime Task Force (EUCTF).

 

Charles Michel, the Prime Minister of Belgium has called for “A European CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).” This is just the beginning the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos, also called for a pan-European spy agency.[vii] The President of the European Commission is also in favour of the EU coordinating member states secret services.[viii]

 

What is not realised by many is that these plans are already underway. The EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (EU INTCEN) came into being in 2011 and is the intelligence body of the European Union. It operates under the European External Action Service (EEAS). Along with the European Union Military Staff (EUMS) which handles military intelligence, EU INTCEN is part of the EU’s Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). These bodies are not effective.

 

Richard Walton, Head of Counter Terrorism Command at New Scotland Yard from 2011-15, is adamant that Britain’s counter-terrorism capability will not be harmed by Brexit.[ix]

 

Sir Richard Dearlove dismissed the relevance of Brussels security bodies such as Europol, stating they were “of little consequence”. In fact, they are worse, as the fear of leaks is ever present. According to Sir Richard Dearlove British information is not shared throughout the EU as its members are potentially a “colander” for intelligence.[x]

 

The EU does not have a great track record on security. The EU’s Focal Point Travellers initiative, which seeks to coordinate investigations into foreign terrorist fighters in Europe from places such as Syria and Iraq only has information on 2,000 suspects which is less than half the foreign fighters known to individual EU member-states security services. And of course, this is just a fraction of both the number of people who have recently arrived in Europe from the middle-east and those homegrown people that sympathise with the jihadis. There is an intelligence black hole at the heart of Europe Union.[xi] Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre is not making us any safer.

 

Currently the dead hand of the European Union has been of little benefit tackling the problems that emerge out of places such as Molenbeek, Malmö and the suburbs of Paris, and clearly in the UK as well. Our safety cannot be outsourced to the EU as the likes of Dominic Grieve suggest. Nor is there the need. The UK is an intelligence leader and does not need the control of the European Union. Other states will, and do, want to share intelligence with Britain.

 

Britain’s intelligence services, along with our armed forces, are areas where we have an important resource which the EU is seeking to co-opt. Brussels is not stopping at the EU developing an intelligence arm. It is also building its military capacity, to back up its foreign policy[xii] and no doubt to establish its power at home and abroad. The plans are already underway.[xiii]

 

In the Brexit negations, which start on 19th June, the British Government must stand firm against EU attempts to take a measure of control over our excellent military and intelligence resources, and certainly not offer them up as part as some deep and special arrangement with Brussels. We can cooperate with global bodies and individual nations, but more EU bureaucracy in this important area is an unwelcome distraction.


[i] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/01/revealed-cabinet-plotted-exploit-eus-defence-fears/

[ii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40040210

[iii] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/27/eu-theresa-may-combat-terror-brexit-europol

[iv] https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/opinion/europes-welcome-sign-to-terrorists.html?_r=0

[v] http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-security-idUKKCN0WQ0NE

[vi] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/an-exclusive-club-the-five-countries-that-dont-spy-on-each-other/

[vii] http://www.euronews.com/2015/11/30/belgium-s-pm-michel-calls-for-a-european-cia

[viii] http://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/juncker-warms-to-the-idea-of-an-eu-intelligence-agency/

[ix] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3676254/former-counter-terror-chief-says-britains-security-wont-be-harmed-by-brexit-because-of-our-spooks-global-reach/

[x] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/24/quitting-the-eu-would-help-our-security-former-mi6-chief-suggest/

[xi] http://www.politico.eu/article/europes-intelligence-black-hole-europol-fbi-cia-paris-counter-terrorism/

[xii] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31796337

[xiii] http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/infographics/eu-global-strategy/

 

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Co-operation after Brexit in the spheres of Justice and crime prevention

The UK should not seek full Europol membership or participation in the flawed European Arrest Warrant scheme.

30th May 2017

Introduction

One unavoidable fact about the modern world is that criminal gangs and terrorist groups work across national borders.

 

A concern raised during the EU referendum campaign was that if the UK left the European Union, the UK would not be able to co-operate with other countries and their police forces in these vital areas.

 

In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Manchester, it has been claimed by figures such as Dominic Grieve, the Tory chair of the Commons intelligence and security committee; that the UK must retain EUROPOL membership after Brexit, even if this means “accepting EU rules and judicial oversight for the European Court of Justice (ECJ)”.[1] While Sir Hugh Orde, former chief constable of the police service of Northern Ireland has stated that:

 

“If we don’t have all this, it makes it a lot more difficult to do this crucial work. It is vital that we get to a situation as close to what we have as members of the EU as possible, though it is difficult to see how we do that.”

 

In this report we will explain how co-operation will indeed continue after Brexit without the need for Europol membership.

 

Key bodies

The UK has a long record of working internationally with other nations in the fields of Justice and Crime prevention; via the relevant global and regional bodies. In addition, the UK works with other NATO members to detect and prevent terrorist activity.[2]

 keybodies

The UK is currently a member of/signatory to:

  • The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO)/INTERPOL[3]
  • International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt)/Rome Statute[4]
  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)[5]
  • World Customs Organization (WCO)[6]
  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)[7]
  • EUROPOL The European Police Office[8]

 

The UK is also a member of the:

  • Commission on Narcotic Drugs[9] and:
  • The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ)[10], both of which are subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

 

Also, the UK is affiliated with the NGO ‘The International Center for the Prevention of Crime’ (ICPC).[11]

 

Finally, the UK participates in The Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions on Co-operation in Criminal Matters (PC-OC).[12]

 

Of these bodies, clearly the most important is Interpol. Originally established as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC) in 1923 it now has 190 member countries[13] and branches in all corners of the globe.

 

Interpol has huge databases containing millions of criminal records which member states can access 24 hours a day via a system called I-24/7.[14]

 

To quote their website:

“I-24/7 is the network that enables investigators to access INTERPOL's range of criminal databases. Authorized users can search and cross-check data in a matter of seconds, with direct access to databases on suspected criminals or wanted persons, stolen and lost travel documents, stolen motor vehicles, fingerprints, DNA profiles, stolen administrative documents and stolen works of art. I-24/7 is the foundation of information exchange between the world's police.”

 europolmap

 

In addition to all the bodies already mentioned, the UK is also a member of the ‘Five Eyes’ Intelligence-sharing partnership.[15]

 fiveeyes

 

Co-operation between bodies

The bodies we have mentioned already are connected to each other via a bewilderingly complex web of agreements and partnerships.

 

Interpol signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Europol in 2011[16] in order to “establish and maintain co-operation between the Parties in combating serious forms of organised international crime…In particular, this will be achieved through the exchange of operational, strategic, and technical information, the co-ordination of activities”[17]

 

Europol has signed a Co-operation Agreement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in order “to facilitate co-operation between UNODC and Europol in combating serious forms of crime”[18]

 

Similarly, Europol has also signed a Co-operation Agreement with the WCO.[19]

 

Likewise, Interpol has signed an ‘Arrangement on co-operation’ with the UNODC[20] and has signed various agreements with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), World Customs Organization (WCO), Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[21]

 

OSCE

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has 57 participating States[22] including all current EU member states[23]. OSCE dedicates much of its efforts into terrorism prevention.

 osce

As the OSCE website states:

 

“The OSCE promotes a co-operative and co-ordinated approach to countering terrorism at all levels, including co-ordination among national authorities, co-operation among states, co-operation with relevant international and regional organizations.”[24]

 

EUROPOL

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary has said that: “Europol has played an important role in keeping us safe and we will be having discussions about how to continue some form of involvement within the agencies of the EU that help to keep us safe.”[25]

 

This does not necessarily mean however; that the UK should seek to continue as a full member of EUROPOL after Brexit.

 europol

Several non-EU countries have signed agreements with EUROPOL and so the UK could likely do the same. Examples include the USA, Switzerland, Norway and Canada.

 

As the EUROPOL website states:

“In general, there are two types of cooperation agreement that Europol can enter into with states and other entities outside the EU: strategic and operational agreements…both types of agreement are aimed at enhancing cooperation between Europol and the country concerned”[26]

 

At any rate, the importance of Europol is exaggerated. Formed in 1998 it is a relatively young organisation that relies heavily on UK involvement and expertise.

 

According to media reports:

“Britain is the largest contributor to Europol, sending 35,000 messages last year, and the UK leads the way in Europe in clamping down on cross-border child sexual exploitation and money laundering.

 

Around 40 per cent of all Europol cases have some kind of UK involvement.”[27]

 

Conclusions

The EU’s member states are in fact obligated to work with the UK on Transnational Organized Crime as they are signatories to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (agreed in 2000).[28]

 

[Interestingly, under Article 103 of the UN charter, in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Members of the United Nations under the Charter (and by implication, UN Conventions and protocols) and their obligations under any other international agreement, their obligations under the UN take greater precedence.]

 

The UK is signed up to the world’s pre-eminent crime fighting organisations already. Given the very real threat of terrorism, the EU will seek a new reciprocal bilateral solution with the UK in order to ensure maximum co-operation.

 

The UK should not seek full Europol membership or participation in the flawed European Arrest Warrant scheme. Instead it should sign a co-operation Agreement with Europol and then either sign a bilateral extradition treaty with the EU or investigate whether we could fall back on the pre-existing European Convention on Extradition (ECE).[29]

 

Co-operation with the EU’s member states on crime and terrorism prevention will continue largely as it does at present – but there may be a small shift in focus and emphasis from co-operating via EUROPOL to co-operating via INTERPOL and the OSCE.

 


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/27/eu-theresa-may-combat-terror-brexit-europol

[2] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_77646.htm

[3] https://www.interpol.int/Member-countries/Europe/United-Kingdom

[4] https://asp.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/asp/states%20parties/western%20european%20and%20other%20states/Pages/united%20kingdom.aspx

[5] https://www.unodc.org/

[6] http://www.wcoomd.org/en/about-us/wco-members/membership.aspx

[7] http://www.osce.org/participating-states

[8] https://www.europol.europa.eu/partners-agreements/member-states/united-kingdom

[9] https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/index.html

[10] http://www.unodc.org/unodc/commissions/CCPCJ/

[11] https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CCPCJ/PNI/institutes-ICPC.html

[12] http://www.coe.int/en/web/transnational-criminal-justice-pcoc

[13] https://www.interpol.int/Member-countries/World

[14] https://www.interpol.int/INTERPOL-expertise/Data-exchange/I-24-7

[15] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/an-exclusive-club-the-five-countries-that-dont-spy-on-each-other/

[16] https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/interpol-and-europol-agree-joint-initiatives-to-enhance-global-response-against-transnational-crime

[17] https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/agreement_between_Interpol_and_Europol.pdf

[18] https://www.europol.europa.eu/partners-agreements/other-agreements

[19] https://www.europol.europa.eu/partners-agreements/other-agreements

[20] https://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Legal-materials/International-Cooperation-Agreements

[21] https://www.interpol.int/About-INTERPOL/Legal-materials/International-Cooperation-Agreements/National-Institutions

[22] http://www.osce.org/participating-states

[23] http://www.osce.org/partnerships/european-union

[24] http://www.osce.org/countering-terrorism

[25] http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/709745/What-is-Europol-Will-UK-sign-up-EU-police-after-Brexit-european-union-leave

[26] https://www.europol.europa.eu/partners-agreements

[27] http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/775300/Brexit-terror-border-control-security-Europol-Interpol-European-Union-Tim-Loughton

[28] https://www.unodc.org/unodc/treaties/CTOC/#Fulltext

[29] http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/rms/0900001680064587

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