The search for a European intelligence policy

Flags of EU member states

By Charles Baker

The search for a European intelligence policy

By Charles Baker



Abbreviations and Acronyms


Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

Chapter Four:

Chapter Five:


Timeline of the European Union



The work towards creating a European intelligence policy remains an under researched subject and I have therefore relied on the support and criticism from a variety of sources. I wish to thank both the British and European politicians who helped point me in the right direction, the Assembly of the Western European Union in Paris and the Western European Union’s Satellite Centre in Torrejón for answering my questions and providing me with documents that would otherwise have been unattainable and the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth for their patience. However my parents deserve the most thanks, for without them I would not have been here at all to write this dissertation.

Abbreviations and Acronyms












Introduction: Intelligence from B.C. to A.D.

The spy is as old as history, but intelligence agencies are new.”[1]

            Perhaps the most peculiar marriage the world has ever witnessed is that between the Bible and intelligence. The former, a tale of Christianity and charity, shares little resemblance to the realms of secrecy and subversion that the intelligence world breeds. Yet intelligence can be traced back to biblical times and it is the Bible that makes the first reference to what is considered to be one of the oldest professions in the world. In Numbers 13, Moses sent twelve intelligence officers on a reconnaissance mission to “spy out the land of Canaan”[2], which lasted for forty days and ended in disagreement of what intelligence assessment to deduce.

Since then, Arabic cipher-breaking; Roman armies; English armies; Renaissance Italy; diplomacy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and Europe’s military and naval operations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have all been producers and consumers of intelligence.[3] The twentieth century saw an explosion of intelligence with the creation of new agencies, budgets and personnel which were used to monitor World War One, World War Two, the Cold War and a host of other conflicts. However, on 25 December 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as leader of the USSR. The Iron Curtain had fallen, the Cold War drew to a close and George Bush announced that “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War.”[4]

One of the clients to the Twentieth century had been the European intelligence services. Since World War Two, not a single year has passed when there has not been a war somewhere in the world. The twentieth century may have finished as it began, challenged by war, but intelligence uses and resources are shrinking as we enter the twenty first century. The ‘fin-de-siècle’ should not mean the end of intelligence.

Today, intelligence agencies still exist all over the world, from the CIA in America to the Research Department for External Intelligence in North Korea; from the Secret Service in South Africa to the Joint Defence Intelligence Service in Norway. However, the intelligence services of the fifteen member states of the European Union[5] must redefine their roles and evaluate grounds for consolidation of policy, personnel and practice if they are to survive and to retain their ability to counter national and international threats.

The intention of this dissertation is to explore the opportunities and challenges in creating a common European intelligence policy. This will begin in Chapter One with an examination of the important relationship between defence and intelligence; Chapter Two explores the case for creating a European intelligence policy; Chapter Three scrutinises one of the chief obstacles – the ‘special relationship’ enjoyed by the United Kingdom and the United States; Chapter Four assesses the future for a European intelligence policy and Chapter Five builds a summary of the key points analysed and concludes that a European intelligence policy is necessary but is at the mercy of politicians. But first we must turn to Chapter One, to review the relationship between Defence and intelligence and its implications towards a European intelligence policy.

Chapter One: Defence and intelligence

I am not protesting against the conduct of war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.”[6]

            Intelligence is unequivocally linked with defence. Simply, changes in defence imply changes in intelligence. Military superiority must be complemented by effective intelligence capabilities in order to prevent conflicts or win battles. The world’s greatest military powers are all dependent on intelligence for making informed evaluations. Therefore intelligence has become an integral part of defence, whether it be in the form of protecting national security, equipping armies with information or identifying prospective hostilities.

Two significant events have recently occurred in the European arena that will have serious implications on the nature of European intelligence. In July 2000, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) was created, which promotes itself as the world's first transnational defence and aerospace company. EADS Is an association of regional defence companies, created by three key member states of the European Union: Aerospatiale Matra S.A., France; Construcciones Aeronáuticas S.A., Spain and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG, Germany. Other European states are pushing their defence industries into seeking membership of EADS, although Britain’s leading defence company, BAE Systems, is insisting that it will remain independent of the new coalition.

            The second, crucial event occurred later that year in December 2000, when the European Union defence ministers, Britain included, agreed to create a 60,000-strong military reaction force as a ‘weapon’ for EU countries to use in areas where they share a common interest. This is now routinely referred to as the EU Rapid Reaction force, which will have a permanent headquarters in Brussels. This is regarded by many observers as a political manoeuvre towards a European Army.

Most importantly, however, the creation of both the EADS and the Rapid Reaction Force fit into the European concept of consolidation and union. This implies, inevitably, that intelligence co-operation must increase, or even consolidate, as the defence industry and defence policies are doing, in order to maximise their effectiveness. National annual intelligence budgets of the European members are a fraction of the annual $28 billion that the US intelligence agencies receive. John Roper, an academic at the University of Birmingham, estimates the combined annual budget of Europe’s intelligence agencies amounts to between US$6-8 billion.[7] Individually, policies and agencies are overshadowed and intimidated by the shadow of American intelligence. Collectively, Europe has the opportunity to build a strong and effective intelligence policy.

However, intelligence agencies remain conservatively shy organisations which are loyal to their national governments, but their allegiance to a single state raises an important consideration. With the gradual erosion of the state, loyalties are becoming confusing and problematic. In an age when threats transcend national boundaries at lightning speed, a common intelligence policy must exist to adapt to the changing requirements of the decision-makers. Alessandro Politi[8] expands perfectly on this point,

“Intelligence services are the last representation and embodiment of the raison d’état, nowadays in Western Europe this statement begs the fundamental question: which state, whose raison d’état?”

If intelligence services remain bent on waving a flag, perhaps they should raise the blue European flag. This raises the possibility of an intelligence policy for the European Union and is explored in Chapter Two.

Chapter Two: The Case of the European Union – Opportunities and Challenges

The defender cannot be equally strong everywhere. If you try to be strong everywhere, you'll be strong nowhere.”

Michael Herman[9] describes the effects of international intelligence co-operation in his book Intelligence Power in Peace and War. This offers interesting comparisons towards a European intelligence policy. It begins with descriptions of the evolution of the international dimension between the British liaisons with Hanover in the eighteenth century; the British and French exchanges of information in World War One; European co-operation in World War Two and the development of the British-American relationship. The first raw point to be deduced is that co-operation can be achieved. His comment that the “appetite for information is insatiable”[10] and the fact that particular agencies have access to people and protocol not available to others begins to suggest to readers thinking of a European intelligence policy that creating a common policy is possible and sensible. However, Herman offers a catalogue of warnings of why intelligence co-operation should be restrained, ranging from inferiority complexes, new risks to information and a lack of agreement on which threats to focus on. This begins the ambitious, but cautious task of analysing why Europe should, and should not, have an intelligence policy.

This raises three important questions concerning a European intelligence policy, which deserve analysis: Is it necessary, is it democratic and is it legal? This author believes strongly that a European intelligence policy is necessary. Michael Herman identifies intelligence concerns in the Middle East, the Gulf, China, North Korea, Pakistan and India, as well as threats from international terrorism, nuclear terrorism and economic ransom.[11]  There has been a multiplication of rogue states that are equipped with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Put more succinctly, from the American point of view, “the threat of the dragon has been replaced by a jungle of poisonous snakes.”[12] The world has not been de-ideologised, but re-idelogised.

The increasing number of dangers transcending national boundaries must be reflected in the intelligence policies of the member states and this can be achieved through increasing co-operation. Many contemporary agencies have been accused of ‘punching above their weight.’ Overwhelmed by modern threats and under-resourced with annual budget cuts, this is a logical assumption to make. A European intelligence policy would solve this problem. Perhaps most importantly for politicians, addressing these common threats together can be achieved at lower costs than maintaining independent, sovereign institutions, whilst avoiding unnecessary duplication by other European agencies. It offers to exchange less quantity, with more quality.

Intelligence is democratic. Democracy is a word that haunts the intelligence community, since they are not organisations that have historically admired democratic principles. Yet many of today’s European agencies reside in countries which champion democracy, in an age of ‘glasnost’ which is increasing transparency and accountability. They clearly believe that democracy and intelligence are two compatible phenomena, on the basis that preserving an integrated area of freedom and justice is necessary. Indeed, intelligence is compatible with parliamentary democracy, as long as it is executed and maintained in a democratic fashion. This was re-iterated by Stella Rimington, former Chief of MI5, in the 1994 Richard Dimbleby lecture,

“A Security Service is an important plank in the defence of a free society and of its civil liberties and basic values…It is compatible with personal liberty, within a democracy. It does not conflict with it, but enhances it.”[13]

Finally, and most importantly, would the European intelligence policy be legal? Indeed surveillance today is no longer simply an infringement of sovereignty, but an infringement of law. But, providing a European policy has the consensus of the European members, they would transfer their existing strategies into a common pool, which is an entirely legal move. However, what would require closer scrutiny would be the transparency and legal accountability of any new policy. They would be legally bound to respect individual human rights too, since the European Convention on Human Rights now applies to all member states. However, although the convention specifies that states must respect individual rights and liberties, it also recognises that states have a duty to protect themselves and, in doing so, may set up a security service. Providing, then, that these three criteria; transparency, accountability and rights are observed, legally an intelligence policy would be challenged by few obstacles.

Alessandro Politi[14] identifies three models for fostering the creation of a European intelligence policy. The first proposes that a natural evolution occurs, beginning with increasing, informal co-operation between member states, which will lead to a more sophisticated and formal framework. This can be quietly achieved by member states and is an entirely feasible idea. Indeed, a secretive association already exists called the Club of Berne, where the UK’s MI5, France’s DGSE, Germany’s BFV and others share information extensively, but secretly. The second model offers a more stringent and organised approach and is composed of creating three rings of co-operation: an outer ring, an annual congregation of governmental and non-governmental parties interested in intelligence who would meet on neutral territory; an inner ring, a formal collection of intelligence organisations charged with supervising intelligence requirements and the third, innermost ring, which would manage the intelligence demands. This last model, he argues, would improve transatlantic co-operation. However, the United States would only find it beneficial if they were given access to the inner most ring. Charles Grant[15] argues that the Americans should have close associations with an EU intelligence unit because of their significant intelligence capabilities. However, it is a wish that many European countries, particularly France, are unlikely to grant.

Naturally, there is the concern of overlap between police forces and intelligence agencies too. Indeed, the creation of EUROPOL[16] would, at a glance, appear to be in competition with a European intelligence policy. This offers us the perennial question, ‘Why not leave all such matters to the police?’ Laurence Lustgarten and Ian Leigh declare that, “this question is in many ways a peculiarly British one.”[17] Crime is now multi-faceted and the heroin trade from Turkey; the fraudulent activity of the Italian Mafia in Italy and the ‘Red Mafia’ trade in prostitution and refugees from Eastern Europe should be the concern of everyone. However, there is a difference between the intentions and objectives of criminals and political motivations of terrorists, which separates policing form intelligence. Mark Urban[18] argues that criminal objectives do not fit the definition of traditional ‘national security.’ But traditional roles are impossible to maintain in today’s climate and they must adapt. That is certain. While States are hostile to surrendering their intelligence organisations, offering resources to organisations such as EUROPOL or the Schengen Information System is an opportunity to create closer co-operation.

            The tragedy of World War Two left subsequent generations determined to create a lasting peace, but the Cold War restricted their achievements. However, the conclusion of the East-West battle at the end of the twentieth century re-energised previously held ambitions to remove national hostilities and create a common defence policy devoid of bitterness and retributions. The Maastricht Treaty seized the opportunity, in 1991, to catalyse this process when they referred to the perspective of a “common foreign and security policy including the eventual framing of a common defence policy.”[19] As we have seen, intelligence is an integral dimension of defence.  On 14 November 1995, in Madrid, assessments were investigated and promises made, to contribute towards enhancing European security and intelligence arrangements with the conclusion that development of intelligence co-operation was important for “operational capabilities.”[20] Furthermore, in 1998, President Chirac of France categorically stated at the British-French summit in St. Malo that new policies would inevitably create new practices when he said,

“We sketched some plans about the paths that could be taken regarding organisation, i.e. the organisations which need to be created, and now we are going to work with…our European partners.”[21]

This was re-iterated in the Joint Declaration announced at the British-French summit which stated more specifically that intelligence was fundamental to the success of the European Union, and that it “must be given appropriate structures and a capacity for analysis of situations, sources of intelligence, and a capability for relevant strategic planning, without unnecessary duplication.”[22] This notion was categorically reinforced in the Cologne Declaration of the European Union, as well as the declaration in the Treaty of Amsterdam to create a policy planning and early warning unit. However, a clearly defined intelligence agenda is still absent, despite the overwhelming number of treaties, summits, statements and communiqués.

Today, a centralised structure is steadily taking shape, dangerously ahead of an agreed common intelligence policy. Brussels is the home of the Military Staff, the Western European Union’s (WEU) only permanent military feature. This was created in May 1998, following the decision taken at the Erfurt Ministerial meeting in November 1997. Amongst the WEU Military structure, exists a Planning Cell and a Situation Centre. The Planning Cell houses the Intelligence Section of the European Union, interestingly where European Ministers wish to locate the headquarters of the Rapid Reaction force. This is complemented by the Western European Union’s Satellite Centre in Torrejón (Spain) – the ‘eyes and the ears’ of a future policy. In practical terms, both the Intelligence Section and the Satellite Centre have had a number of important successes. However, it is of enormous symbolic value as well to those who support a common agenda. As Frédéric Oberson reveals, this has  established an “intelligence triangle…based on a logical division of labour between the use of technical means [Torrejón based Satellite Centre] for the collection of information and the multi-source assessment of situations”[23] of which the Planning Cell is an integral part. This has culminated in the weekly issuing of intelligence reports (INTSUM). This is part of the wider objective of European members to create a European Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which is currently supervised by Javier Solana. He manages a policy unit who “channel confidential material from their own countries to the High Representative.”[24] But it remains a shell and national agencies restrict the amount of sensitive information they are willing to give to Solana and his staff. But, importantly, it is an establishment which the United States supports.

However, the maintenance and development of the Intelligence Section is still dependent on the willingness of the nation state to co-operate. Similarly, states can very easily manipulate the finished intelligence product by selecting what information they do and don’t provide the Intelligence Section. Despite the impetus from the British-French summit in 1998, Frédéric Oberson’s observations reveal that reform is necessary,

“The Intelligence Section thus receives, more or less frequently documents that states are willing to send. In actual fact only half of the ten full Member states frequently supply useful intelligence.”[25]

Voluntary contributions of material is creating imbalances in participation and a system of compulsory donation of material is likely to discourage state participation. This argument lends further weight to the desire for centralised European intelligence policies and institutions. However, it is dangerous to invest in institutions which still lack an agreed intelligence policy amongst the member states. Parliaments, Prime Ministers and Presidents must rectify this lack of co-ordination between policy and institutions urgently, since policies should drive institutions, not the other way round.

This has generated a body of literature which has reflected on the repercussions of these fundamental changes. Alessandro Politi[26] proposes that contracting out “segments of the all-source evaluation process” would increase the efficiency of intelligence practices and that a future European policy is uniquely positioned to cradle this transformation. However, this author believes that this would be a fatal move. Western European intelligence organisations were built on a professional sprit d’corps and, privatising this, would destroy one of the strong bonds that holds them together. Similarly, subcontracting intelligence work would create opportunities for the bending of rules and increase the disregard for accountability. This is a belief shared by Admiral Pierre Lacoste, the former Chief of French Military Intelligence,

“Ethics remain the key word, both at personal and institutional levels. That is why I am so affirmative when I say that governments must strongly resist transferring such responsibilities to the private sector.”[27]

New agencies should have the ability to make speedy decisions, yet they must resist the temptation to become a vehicle for passing through resolutions that go unchecked. Any new structure should include a Chairman, a rotating position between the member states, who would be the principal point of reference for the President of the European Union. Under the Chairman, would sit a Managing Director of Intelligence, elected for a set period of time, who would oversee the operations of the individual institutions. Similar to the British model, a Parliamentary Committee could act as commentator of the intelligence activities and an Ombudsman could be incorporated to steward and supervise their operations. Although this merely offers a prototype of what could, but is unlikely to be, the Sunday Times made an important revelation when it carried the headline, “Europe plans its own spy agency.”[28] This followed a Franco-German summit in Paris in December 1999, which steered the European Union towards the creation of an EU intelligence service to help manage world crises. But any new agendas must be managed by experienced personnel, since new policies do not mean new levels of quality. There will always be intelligence failures and the creation of new policies would not overcome this. But, if a collective effort existed to target threats, there would be a reduction in duplication and the number of failures could be significantly reduced.

The creation of new, centralised agencies offers European states the opportunity to become “collectively more relevant through pragmatic synergies…[rather than]…being constantly dwarfed worldwide.”[29] The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, serious crime, drug trafficking, ecological threats, policing of cyberspace and the threat of rogue states are not exclusive concerns of single member states but serious concerns to all of them. However, serious obstacles remain and perhaps none more so than the special relationship enjoyed between the UK and USA, which is scrutinised in Chapter Three.

Chapter Three: The Special Relationship – The United Kingdom and the United States

The special relationship is at its most special in intelligence.[30]

The United Kingdom has felt compelled to build an Anglo-American intelligence alliance, which can be traced back to the BRUSA (Britain-USA) agreement, established between the two world wars and which flourished as a joint wartime signals intelligence operation. This has manifested itself in today’s ‘special relationship’, jealously watched by Continental Europe, who argue that the problem is not us, the problem is the US. However, there are two interesting points that derive from the relationship. The first is the independence that states can still enjoy when part of an alliance and the second, ironically, demonstrates how successful co-operation between the members of the European Union can lead to a common intelligence policy.

However, before the argument proceeds, it is important to consider this ‘speciality’. Who is it special for? It is not an equal exchange of information and leads to “questionable results.”[31] Often the US will use the UK to complete its jigsaw of an intelligence assessment and, in return, either offer it nothing at all, offer it masses of low grade intelligence or a single piece of fairly useful information. Charles Grant highlights this point in the Falklands War. America only offered an intelligence package to the UK, once it realised that Argentina would not conform to its own recommendation. This leads Charles Grant to conclude that it is a one sided relationship,

The UK and USA have created a strong relationship, even if one is more loyal than the other. But they have also created a successful balance between focusing on common threats, such as Iraq, and pooling their intelligence capabilities accordingly, but retaining enough independence to tackle domestic problems and participate in other operations not covered by the alliance. For example, whilst internationally, the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and the Iraqi air strikes of the 1990s have consumed vast quantities of national intelligence resources, British intelligence has played, amongst other things, a pivotal role in sealing the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland in 1998 at the same time. Therefore, it is possible to create a common policy and yet still reserve the capability to administer independent affairs. The creation of a European intelligence policy has the opportunity to pursue this. It would not imitate the transatlantic alliance, but strengthen it.

            Every member state of the European Union is vulnerable to the threat of domestic terrorism, some to a greater extent than others. The IRA in the United Kingdom; ETA in Spain; the Breton Revolutionary Army in France; the 17 November Revolutionary Organization in Greece and the Red Brigade in Italy are all active and violent organisations that have scored wicked ‘successes’. Indeed, violence took more European lives in the 1990s than in 44 years of the cold war and terrorist attacks take place at the rate of nearly one a day.[33] However, the creation of a centralised European policy would not undermine the ability of states to manage these domestic dangers. David Charters[34] remarks that domestic political operations can be successfully accomplished by relying on professional military organisations to undertake paramilitary operations. Therefore, this offers us a realistic possibility of creating a collective European intelligence policy, whilst allowing states to retain control of sovereign paramilitary operations to address their domestic threats.

The Club of Berne plays a crucial role in informally linking the European intelligence services together. However, other bilateral agreements exist too, that neither America nor the “special relationship” participate in. France and the UK, for example, have an historical relationship that had a profound effect in World War Two, with daily exchanges of information between the French résistance and the British Special Operations Executive. There is evidence of extensive co-operation between Britain and France during the Falklands War and in Northern Ireland too. Charles Grant captures neatly the idea that European co-operation is flourishing,

“It is the quantity, rather than the quality of the UK-US trade that is unique. ‘Personal ties’ between the SIS and DGSE are sometimes closer. Ties between the SIS and the [domestic] DST are particularly warm.”[35]

Almost jovially, but seriously, Mark Urban reveals that British MI6 officers have questioned “whether they should start targeting the Americans.”[36] Additionally, MI5 boasts that it has “links with nearly 100 services worldwide”[37], yet there exist no formal alliances or institutions that link them together and a European intelligence policy has the opportunity to deliver this.

Overcoming the transatlantic UK-USA alliance will prove the most troublesome obstacle in creating a European policy, but it is not an impossible mission. There already exists general co-operation between the EU member states through the Western European Union in Paris, intimate co-operation at the WEU’s Torrejón Satellite centre in Spain and the very secretive co-operation within the Club of Berne.

            Although in its infancy, the United Nations Situation Centre (a UN, internationally staffed ‘information’ service at United Nations Headquarters in New York), suggests that international intelligence co-operation can be achieved. Indeed, ‘since the end of the Cold War, there are signs that [states] are increasingly willing to respond”[38] to calls for co-operation. Tim Trevan makes frequent references to the intelligence sharing that he experienced during his secondment to UNSCOM (UN Special Commission for Iraq), principally between the US, UK, France, Russia and Germany,

“Sitting in a meeting of intelligence analysts was, for me, a surreal experience…The KGB had been the enemy…Nikita Snidovich, who was now my colleague in UNSCOM, had been my principal opponent.”[39]

These are the politics of the ‘New World Order.’ If an international intelligence capability can be constructed, developing a finished, all source intelligence machine at a localised European level would appear to be a smaller and easier task. Indeed, European intelligence sharing can help bring war criminals to trial at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.[40]

Since an opportunity exists to increase closer European co-operation, can Europe begin to build a European intelligence policy for the future? This is analysed in Chapter Four.

Chapter Four: Is there a future for a European intelligence policy?

A European intelligence policy is not just necessary, but indispensable.”[41]

Ultimately, the success of a European intelligence policy is at the mercy of politicians. However, the majority of the European Prime Ministers and Presidents harbour European ideals and the creation of an intelligence policy is part of a wider project to increase European co-operation in all areas of political life. The most recent Swedish report covering this issue is very optimistic about the future of co-operation. As a strategic intelligence provider in the Cold War, it is a respected authority in this field and it concludes that it is a necessary step forward,

“The 1999 Report underlines the importance of foreign co-operation in the intelligence field and recommends wider scope for co-operation…It is fair to surmise though that the networks generally speaking will grow rather than be disrupted.”[42]

                The principal consumers of intelligence, Defence Ministries and Foreign Ministries, are consolidating their interests and objectives. This, we have already seen with the amalgamation of European defence industries and policies and the agreements made to construct the CFSP. Traditionally, Foreign Ministries have been the chief architects of intelligence requirements and this is true at the European level too.

However, differences do remain between the foreign policies of the member states and overcoming these will be a huge task for the CFSP. The most profound example is between the UK and France over the corpse of Iraq. The UK persists with air strikes, yet France is one of three members of the UN Security Council to have broken the air embargo. Similarly, Sierra Leone has become a cornerstone of British foreign policy, whilst other European countries participate in different African agendas. The Intelligence and National Security Committee[43] explicitly reports that intelligence played a key role in the evaluation of Sierra Leone and this could be considered as one of the reasons for British intervention. This information was not shared with Continental allies, which could have generated or modified their interest if it had been. The need to share intelligence information was a conclusion of the House of Commons Defence Committee in their analysis of the Kosovo campaign, which warned that future joint operations will be hampered if there is differential access to intelligence.[44]

However, the CFSP was designed to reconcile these differences and that remains its priority. Indeed, although America might spend more annually on defence, Europe collectively spends much more on ‘soft security’, in areas such as development aid.[45] A common intelligence policy is fundamental in maximising the success of understanding who and who should not be the recipient of European aid. The Assembly of the WEU has warned that European “security issues…the common foreign and security policy…and the implementation of EU decisions…rely upon a common European intelligence policy.”[46] European states, at least in principle with their support of the CFSP, have the desire to harmonise their differences in order to create a coherent and co-operative European Foreign Policy. This should be extended to a common intelligence policy.

Europe has a Commissioner for External Relations, the former British politician, Chris Pattern. Inevitably, intelligence will have played a role in the treaties and agreements that his office has participated in. The First Stabilisation and Association Agreement (an agreement between the EU and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and the MEDA[47] Programme will all have required intelligence assessments during their analyses. Similarly, the European Commissioner for Trade, the former French civil servant Pascal Lamy, as representative of the fifteen member sates, will have considered their economic objectives in presenting a common position at worldwide negotiations, such as the Seattle ministerial conference with the World Trade in November 1999. This will have undoubtedly required intelligence assessments. Although referring to America, Adda Bozeman’s comments are applicable to the European Union too, when she says that responsible organisations must be engaged in “fashioning a reliable national consensus in support of strong intelligence services.”[48] Chris Pattern’s and Pascal Lamy’s offices can be used as a tool for achieving this.

However, whilst it is likely that a European policy is feasible in the short to medium term, it remains merely a fantasy that states will relinquish control of their organisations in favour of a centralised institution. This is taking the discipline to new boundaries that states are unwilling to consider. However, although the creation of a single agency is very unlikely, the installation of EU cells in each strategic sovereign organisation is a viable alternative. This is not fanciful optimism, but a very real opportunity. The 1998 Joint Declaration on European Defence clearly considers this an achievable possibility, when the French and British governments announced the development of “standing arrangements for setting up multinationalised cells within these [national military] Headquarters, including officers from other EU partners.”[49] This demonstrates a genuine consensus to build closer intelligence co-operation in Europe.

Another international obstacle towards a European intelligence policy is NATO. Michael Herman offers a cold warning, but a reason for the creation of European intelligence too,

“One criticism of the EU dimension is that it is undermining NATO…but NATO has never had a proper intelligence system at the NATO Council level anyway; the inputs that have counted have all been CANUKUS ones discussed behind green baise doors.”[50]

An evolving European intelligence policy could better relations between NATO and Continental Europe since the policy offers to reconcile European inferiorities as well as assist NATO in areas where it lacks resources. Since NATO does not have a specific intelligence system, the construction of a European policy would be an enormous asset for the European Union to contribute towards building EU-NATO co-operation. This is the attitude that politicians prefer to present to their audiences. However, realistically, both sides of the Atlantic are re-evaluating the purpose of NATO. Europe is quietly doing this with various consolidations of interest, although argues that it will strengthen the European pillar of NATO, rather than undermine it. And, in America, younger generations are reconsidering the relevance of NATO, as highlighted by a report on the United States and security in Europe,

“Many of these younger members of Congress [186] are questioning the guiding principles which have been the basis of United States foreign policy…Some of them are not even sure about the value of NATO, arguing that its raison d’être…no longer exists.”[51]

There are two final, but serious, difficulties that must be mastered if co-operation is to succeed. The first is the different configuration of intelligence services at the national level, since some of them are dependent on military management, some are dependent on civil management, for example by Ministries of Home Affairs, and others have a combined military and civil structure. The second is the role of intelligence in government policy, which varies significantly amongst the member states, as detected by Charles Grant,

“Anglo-Saxons use intelligence in an empirical way…if the facts are significant, the policies may get changed…The French and other Continentals, being essentially deductive in their thinking…draw on intelligence to support them.”[52]

Arguably, British intelligence is used as a tool to manipulate policy, whereas Continental intelligence is used to reinforce policy. However, it is possible to overcome these differences. Europe has a history of consolidating differences between member states, most recently with the introduction of monetary union. Similarly, these approaches largely exist due to historical practices and a fresh intelligence policy would bury these. Furthermore, the successful creation of both the Military Staff of the WEU in Brussels and the UN Situation Centre in New York demonstrates that different attitudes towards intelligence can be resolved. However, before a conclusion can be made as to whether Europe can begin to construct an intelligence policy, Chapter Five reminds readers of the advantages and disadvantages of this project.

Chapter Five: Conclusion – The beginning of a European intelligence policy?

New thinking is needed.”[53]

This dissertation has highlighted the central problems and prospects of a European intelligence policy and before a conclusion is drawn, it is important to remember what these are.

The pro-European policy camp has generated a list of convincing arguments. Europe, as a geographical, economical and political union, should accommodate the creation of a common intelligence formula. The culture of integration should be extended to an intelligence policy, since existing bilateral relationships are insufficient for resolving today’s new risks and threats. Similarly, if the CFSP is to be successfully delivered, then a common intelligence policy, as an integral part of a defence and foreign policy, must be developed. Despite some foreign policy differences, there are significant areas where European states share a common approach. For example, Europe is more sensitive to Russia’s perspective and many member states are actively engaged in improving bilateral relations. However, recent wars, such as Kosovo and the Gulf, have highlighted the problems arising from the absence of a central European intelligence policy, which would harmonise a common approach to international conflicts.

Promoters of a European intelligence policy argue that intelligence co-operation is already successfully taking place around the world; in the Western European Union Satellite Centre in Torrejón; the Situation Centre at the UN in New York and the informal gathering of the Club of Berne, in Switzerland. The last, although a controversial organisation, does demonstrate that significant co-operation between member states of the European Union can occur. After all, knowledge is power; the more knowledge a state has means more power and knowledge is derived from intelligence, a point realised by Woodrow Wilson who remarked in 1919 that, “knowledge must be accompanied by a system of intelligence.”[54]

But the creation of EU intelligence capabilities should not be designed to compete with the United States. Indeed, internationalisation of intelligence is very unlikely to occur whilst the United States remains a hegemonic power, since it will resist all attempts to relinquish control of national intelligence policies. But perhaps regionalism of intelligence is a viable alternative, of which a European intelligence policy would be a key pillar.

In addition, since EU member states are addressing the possibilities of a future European Army, even if it remains simply a peacekeeping facility, it is crucial that an intelligence policy is constructed, since successful armies need to be well informed. A European intelligence policy offers a ‘load sharing’ factor too, i.e. coalition of policies would lead to equal absorption of costs. The peace dividend of the New World Order has tattooed cuts on national intelligence services and their requirements can no longer be matched with fiscal reality. Reduced duplication and closer co-operation offers an opportunity to overcome this. And finally, creating a centralised policy removes the possibility for manipulation and national bias that today’s Western European Union suffers.

However, the anti-European policy camp remain determined that this should not happen. States remain reluctant to create a supranational framework which might undermine or replace traditional modus operandi. Similarly, sharing information increases the risk of leakages; secrets will become vulnerable if they are exposed to a wider audience as happened during the bombing raids against Yugoslavia in 1999.[55] This concern is the view of Tom King MP too, the Chair of the House of Commons Intelligence and National Security Committee which reports directly to the Prime Minister,

“There is considerable nervousness about undue spreading of intelligence because of the historical problems of leaks within Europe.”[56]

However, as remarked in the UK, secrecy is often used for the wrong reasons and “the Official Secrets Act is not to protect secrets but to protect officials.”[57]

There is still a large degree of mistrust between European states too and, although they might be allies, they have been caught recently spying on each other. The Sunday Times report, “French spies listen in to British calls[58] revealed that extensive spying against friendly nations and even between European allies regularly occurs. Sceptics of the policy argue that the series of ad hoc arrangements that exist, such as the Club of Berne, are a preferable option for co-operation since they do not tie states to obligations that they would rather not meet. Furthermore, European citizens, predominately the British[59], are still sceptical of closer European integration. Therefore, is it morally right to create policies and institutions against the wishes of the electorate? This is an important question that must be carefully considered. Penultimatley, they argue that Europe has not yet finished building its boundaries and, until then, it should decelerate the creation of new initiatives, which could prove to be exclusive to new European entrants. Indeed, the process of enlargement of the European Union was launched on 30 March 1998[60] but many are not expected to join in the foreseeable future. And finally, but most importantly, the ‘special relationship’ is their most precious argument. However, as already analysed, they must question who is it special for?

The thrust for developing a European intelligence policy can only come from politicians. Generating a level of agreement to do this is possible, as we have witnessed with their public declarations. This could be the beginning, but hopefully not the end, of a European intelligence policy.


Figure One

A European intelligence policy will be indispensable to the Rapid Reaction Force.

Figure Two

Docklands pic

A common European intelligence policy would help member states to tackle terrorist attacks that they are all threatened by.

Figure Three                                                            Figure Four


An intelligence policy must not interfere with
personal liberties.

Timeline of the European Union


Zurich – Winston Churchill calls for a ‘kind of United Sates of Europe.’

17 March 1948

Brussels – Signature of the Brussels Treaty on Economic, Social and Cultural Collaboration and Collective Self-Defence by Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

4 April 1949

                        Washington – Signature of the North Atlantic Treaty.

27 May 1952

Paris – Signature of the European Defence Community Treaty.

23 October 1954

                        Paris – the Paris Agreement modifies the Brussels Treaty of 1948.

6 May 1955

London – Creation of Western European Union (headquarters later moved to Paris) and the adoption of the blue flag with twelve gold stars as an emblem of Europe.

26-27 October 1984

Rome – WEU Council of Ministers brings together both Foreign and Defence Ministers. WEU take son its present politico-military form.

26-27 October 1987

The Hague – The WEU Council of Ministers agrees on the Platform on European Security Interests.

27 June 1991

                        Vianden – WEU Satellite Centre established at Torrejón in Spain.

11 January 1994

Brussels – Atlantic Alliance summit. NATO gives full support for development of the European Security and Defence Identity.

01 May 1996

                        Brussels – Signature of the WEU-NATO Security Agreement.

15 June 1996

                        Brussels – The Situation Centre becomes operational.

01 January 1999

                        Brussels – The European single currency, the EURO, is launched.

24 April 1999

Washington – NATO summit. NATO declares arrangements to provide European Union with security assets.

Sourced from the Western European Union and BBC.co.uk



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[1] Knightley, Philip. The second oldest profession  (London: Deutsch 1986).

[2] Holy Bible New King James Version (London: Thomas Nelson 1982). Numbers 13 (2).

[3] Herman, Michael. Intelligence power in peace and war. Pages 9-15.

[4] Ambrose, Stephen & Brinkley, Douglas. Rise to globalism: American foreign policy since 1938 (London: Penguin 1997). Introduction.

[5] The European Union consists of Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (who joined in 1951), Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom (1973), Greece (1981), Spain and Portugal (1986), Austria, Finland and Sweden (1995).

[6] Siegfried Sassoon, A soldiers declaration. July 1917. From Barker, Pat. Regeneration (London: Penguin 1992). Page 3.

[7] Roper, John. Agents for change. Page 187.

[8] Politi, Alessandro. Towards a European intelligence policy (Paris: Institute for Security Studies 1998).

[9] Herman, Michael. Intelligence power in peace and war. Pages 200-218.

[10] Herman, Michael. Intelligence power in peace and war. Page 204.

[11] Herman, Michael. Intelligence power in peace and war. Page 346.

[12] Richelson, Jeffery. A century of spies. Page 428.

[13] Rimington, Stella. Security and democracy: is there a conflict? (London: BBC Television 1994).

[14] Politi, Alessandro. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[15] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 16.

[16] Europol is the European Union law enforcement organisation that handles criminal intelligence.

The establishment of Europol was agreed in the Maastricht Treaty on European Union of 7 February 1992. More information can be found at: http://www.europol.nl

[17] Lustgarten, Laurence and Leigh, Ian. In from the cold: national security and parliamentary democracy. Page 368.

[18] Urban, Mark. UK eyes alpha: the inside story of British intelligence (London: Faber & Faber 1996).

[19] Assembly of Western European Union. A European intelligence policy: Document 1500 (Paris: Western European Union 1995).

[20] Assembly of Western European Union. A European intelligence policy: Document 1500.

[21] President Jacques Chirac. British-French Summit, Saint-Malo, France 4 December 1998. Internet source: http://www.fco.gov.uk/news/newstext.asp?1788

[22] Joint Declaration on Defence. British-French Summit, Saint-Malo, France 4 December 1998. Internet source: http://www.fco.gov.uk/news/newstext.asp?1795

[23] Oberson, Frédéric. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[24] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 15.

[25] Oberson, Frédéric. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[26] Politi, Alessandro. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[27] Admiral Pierre Lacoste. Agents for change. Page 319.

[28] The Sunday Times. Europe plans its own spy agency. 5 December 1999. Page 22.

[29] Politi, Alessandro. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[30] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 1.

[31] Urban, Mark. UK eyes alpha. Page 300.

[32] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 12.

[33] Rimington, Stella. Security and democracy: is there a conflict?

[34] Charters, David. The role of Intelligence services in the direction of covert paramilitary operations, in Intelligence: Policy and Process. Pages 333-346.

[35] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 6.

[36] Urban, Mark. UK eyes alpha. Page 301.

[37] MI5. Internet source: http://www.mi5.gov.uk/intell11.htm.

[38] Smith, Hugh. Survival. Intelligence and UN Peacekeeping (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies 1994). Page 184.

[39] Trevan, Tim. Saddams secrets. Page 8.

[40] This was confirmed by the Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina Mission to the UK, HE Osman Topčagić, in a personal interview with the author.

[41] Politi, Alessandro. Towards a European intelligence policy.

[42] Ambassador Par Kettis in Agents for change. Page 94.

[43] House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee. Interim Report 2000-01 (London: HMSO 2001)

[44] House of Commons Defence Committee. Lessons of Kosovo (London: HMSO 2000).

[45] Norton-Taylor, Richard. Going it alone. The Guardian. 28 February 2001.

[46] Assembly of Western European Union Recommendation 597 (xii).

[47] The MEDA Programme is the main financial instrument of the EU for the implementation of the Euro Mediterranean Partnership, to accompany the reform of social and economic structures in the Mediterranean non-member countries. Internet source: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/med_mideast/euro_med_partnership/meda.htm

[48] Bozeman, Adda. Strategic intelligence and statecraft. Page vii.

[49] Joint Declaration by the British and French Governments on European Defence.

[50] Michael Herman. Comments offered in a personal interview with the author.

[51] Assembly of Western European Union. The United States and security in Europe, Document 1519. (Paris: Western European Union 1996).

[52] Grant, Charles. Intimate relations. Page 4.

[53] Urban, Mark. UK eyes alpha. Page 301.

[54] Khan, David. Intelligence and National Security. Volume 9. July 1994. Number Three. Page 534.

[55] Norton-Taylor, Richard. ‘Nato spy leaked bombing raid plans to the Serbs.’ 09 March 2000.

[56] Tom King MP in a personal interview with the author.

[57] Yes Prime Minister! The Penguin Dictionary of Twentieth Century Quotations (London: Penguin 1995).

[58] The Sunday Times. French spies listen in to British calls. 17 October 1999.

[59] This is highlighted in Figure Four in the Glossary.

[60] Negotiations are currently being held with twelve applicants: Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.