Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Irish spooks up to their necks in it

"Deep in the EU undergrowth..."

...since it has quietly signed up to the Justice and Home Affairs section of the Lisbon Treaty, where it enjoyed a temporary opt-out, Ireland is engaged in discussions on a wide range of “security” issues with a potentially huge effect on civil rights and individual liberties.

The opt-out meant that this hugely important part of the treaty remained below the radar during the referendum debates, but...

....measures designed to combat terrorism and crime and to protect the EU from “natural and man-made disasters,” even “traffic accidents,” are featured on the agenda of a myriad of committees of unaccountable officials.

Their work is revealed in a series of classified EU documents, littered with acronyms, reflecting the large number of proposals designed to strengthen links between the security and intelligence agencies of EU member-states...

One document, “Draft working method for closer cooperation and coordination in the field of EU security,” was sent by the presidency of the EU Council, a post then held by Hungary, to the Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security. It refers to “calls for closer cooperation between the fields of the common foreign and security policy and the area of freedom, security, and justice.”

After mentioning moves to “enhance links between the internal and external aspects of counter-terrorism,” the document states: “It is important to note that effective and timely coordination between the competent authorities at national level and cooperation with the relevant actors at EU level are of critical importance to building close relations between the external and internal aspects of EU security.”

Included among “possible areas of cooperation in the field of EU security” are “the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” “terrorism,” “organised crime, including cross-border crime and illicit trafficking,” “cyber-security,” “energy security,” and “climate change.”

Another classified document from the Crisis Management and Planning Department for the Political and Security Committee discusses strengthening ties between the common security and defence policy and the area of “freedom, security, and justice.” Entitled “Elements of a draft road map,” it refers to the EU’s little-known Political and Security Committee drawing up plans for “comprehensive situational awareness and intelligence support” and “improving cooperation in planned EU external action.”

Other documents refer to “informal networks,” a “joint situation centre” designed to promote cooperation between EU spooks, “road maps,” and “inter-institutional information meetings.”

A list of initials and acronyms copied into one document illustrates the plethora of committees relating to “security” and intelligence spawned by the EU. They include JAI, COSI, COPS, CIVCOM, PESC, RELEX, JAIEX, ENFOPOL, COTER, and PROCIV.

The documents were leaked to Statewatch, a British charity that monitors threats to civil liberties throughout the European Union. They reveal a patchwork of committees that may appear on the surface to be little more than an attempt at European bureaucratic empire-building. Their significance, however, is much greater than that, as this secretive network is concerned with security, intelligence, and law enforcement—issues of vital concern to EU citizens.

Tony Bunyan, editor of Statewatch, pointed out that “a whole new panoply of working parties and informal groups is mushrooming in the field of EU external security.” He added that the European External Action Service, headed by Catherine Ashton, was pushing for EU agencies to operate outside Europe on such issues as gathering intelligence and personal data as well as distributing personal information throughout the EU...

"These practices would go far beyond the remits laid down in EU law. Crucial documents are not publicly available," and there is no mechanism for parliamentary accountability at the national or the EU level; and it would more than optimistic to expect that Alan Shatter might break the veil of secrecy!


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