EU LIBE: questions for debate on Democratic oversight of Member State intelligence services & EU intelligence

The EU Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Working Document on Democratic oversight of Member State intelligence services & EU intelligence (.pdf, Dec 12) suggests the following questions for debate:

  • Given the extent of international cooperation by intelligence agencies in the EU it is crucial that the scope of this activity is subject to adequate control allowing oversight bodies to scrutinise international intelligence cooperation. There is a threat that with international cooperation, intelligence agencies in EU Member States may be able to receive communications that they could not otherwise lawfully gather themselves. As stated, the third party rule can serve as a barrier to proper oversight mechanisms if the established oversight committee is deemed as a third party. How can it be ensured that information received from a foreign or international agency is subject to adequate oversight? Would it be possible that oversight bodies were not considered as third parties? 
  • How can national security measures, with a disposition towards the use of obscurity/ambiguity, be embedded in a democratic framework of parliamentary and judicial oversight? 
  • What should the role and powers of the European Parliament be to exercise parliamentary oversight? Should the European Parliament create a specialized (sub-)committee that is able to receive and scrutinize classified information? How could the EP’s “power of the purse” (budget right) be used most effectively to support the possible increased role of scrutiny for the EP?
  • If more cooperation and exchange of information takes place among national intelligence services, is it still effective to have exclusively national rules and oversight mechanisms for intelligence services within the EU? How to best organize within Europe collaborative oversight of intelligence services? 
  • Can national oversight mechanisms, given the technological developments and the mobility of data, ensure that the civil rights of all EU citizens are respected by the different national intelligence services? If not, is there a need for minimum European standards or rules that intelligence services should adhere to regarding information exchange, data protection, transparency and oversight? 


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