UPDATE 2017-09-13: further updates/additions moved to the bottom.
UPDATE 2015-02-05: new EU Factsheet on EU Intelligence Analysis Center (IntCen).
On November 27th 2013, the Dutch cabinet responded (in Dutch) to parliamentary questions about EU IntCen. The response is only available in Dutch; here is my English translation.
1 Are you familiar with the European FOIA request to the European External Action Service (EEAS) for information about the secret European EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (Intcen) service?
2 Is it true that Member States voluntarily transmit intelligence to IntCen, and what is the nature of this intelligence?
Yes. Expatriate staff of civilian intelligence and security services of several EU Member States are deployed as analysts together with European officials in the EU Intelligence Centre (IntCen). The IntCen was established to make strategic analyses on the basis of intelligence of the various Member States, with the purpose of common foreign and security policy, and on the area of counter-terrorism.
IntCen is not an intelligence service, does not have special powers and therefore does not carry out intelligence gathering itself. IntCen also does not process personal data, it focuses solely on strategic analyses.
The contributions from the Member States are provided on a voluntary basis. The IntCen sends questions (requests for information) to the Member States, both to the Ministries of Foreign Affair as well as the respective intelligence and security services. The information that is shared can be characterized as analytical material, in which available intelligence, insofar a contributing service can or is willing to release it, is processed. This component determines the [secrecy] classification of the information.
3 What is the legal basis for the organization and activities of IntCen?
IntCen was established shortly after the attacks of 9/11 by the Council of Europe as organic part of the Council Secretariat. Its name was EU SITCEN (EU Situation Centre, in Dutch: “situatiecentrum van de Europese Unie”). The Council Decision of July 26th 2010 to establish the organization and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) (OJ L 201, 3.8.2010, p 30), determined in Article 4, paragraph sub a, third indent, that EU SITCEN has become part of the European External Action Service, under the direct authority and direct responsibility of the High Representative.
Through an internal decision by mid-March 2012, the EU SITCEN changed its name and has since been called EU IntCen. The core tasks of producing strategic analyses have not changed.
Given that SitCen only prepares strategic analyses, does not process personal data, does not gather intelligence and that information from the Member States is provided only on a voluntary basis, the Council considered that the establishment of SitCen did not require a special legal basis, and that SitCen could be set up in a similar manner as every organic part of the Council Secretariat. Additionally, the SitCen being part of the Council, it is subject to the same rules and legal control as the Council and the Council Secretariat. This situation has not changed with the transfer of SitCen to the European External Action Service, with the proviso that SitCen is expressly mentioned in the Council decision quoted above as one of the services which are transferred to the European External Action Service.
4 What is the formal legal status of IntCen? How does the legal status of IntCen relate to the legal status of the EEAS?
As indicated above, IntCen is an integral part of the EEAS, and thus operates within the same legal framework. This means in particular that the rules on the protection of personal data as they apply to the EU institutions are fully applicable to IntCen. Also, the European data protection controller is authorized to carry out oversight.
Moreover, all other rules that normally apply to the European institutions fully apply to IntCen. These rules include the rules on access to documents, the financial regulation, the rules on staff (including ethical standards for EU staff). All legal means normally available against decisions of European institutions are also open to the acts of IntCen as part of the EEAS. The European Ombudsman and the European Court of Justice are fully authorized to oversee the legality of acts of IntCen.
5 With which parties does IntCen share her gathered intelligence and analyses?
Analyses of IntCen be shared with the Member States of the European Union, and with relevant decision makers within the European Commission, EEAS and in some cases the Council, provided that such employees are in possession of the necessary ‘clearance’ issued by the Member States themselves.
6. Does IntCen use information and analysis of the Dutch intelligence and security services? If so, how is oversight on IntCen carried out by the Dutch Parliament, the judiciary, experts or other possible means?
Yes, the Netherlands is one of the Member States that analyzes information provided to IntCen. One AIVD officer is permanently detached at IntCen in Brussels. A secure digital connection with this officer is used for daily contact between the AIVD and IntCen.
For each of the intelligence and security services that share intelligence analyses with IntCen, their own national legal framework and monitoring mechanisms apply. In the case of the Netherlands, the information shared with IntCen is collected within the framework of the Dutch Intelligence and Security Act (Wiv2002) and under the supervision of the Dutch Review Committee on the Intelligence and Security Services (CTIVD).
7 How does IntCen relate to the Dutch intelligence and security services?
IntCen is one of the recipients of the intelligence analyses of the AIVD and the analyses of IntCen are shared with the AIVD.
8 Does the Dutch Court of Justice have jurisdiction in the event that the activities of the IntCen exceed the mandate or the legal basis of EU law? If so, what? If not, why not?
See the answer to question 4.
9 Does IntCen process personal data in the context of its intelligence activities? Is IntCen permitted to process personal data? If so, under what conditions? If so, how is the oversight on the processing of personal data organized?
No, IntCen does not carry out intelligence activities and does not process personal data. Also see the answer to questions 2 and 4.
10 To what extent is IntCen bound by privacy regulations of the European Union?
As indicated in the answer to question 4, all the European regulations on privacy fully apply to IntCen.
Full EU factsheet as published on 2015-02-05 (mirrored below for posterity):
Summary: 5 February 2015, Brussels – The EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (EU INTCEN) is the exclusive civilian intelligence function of the European Union, providing indepth analysis for EU decision makers. Its analytical products are based on intelligence from the EU Member States’ intelligence and security services.
EU INTCEN’s mission is to provide intelligence analyses, early warning and situational awareness to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini and to the European External Action Service (EEAS).
The Centre does this by monitoring and assessing international events, focusing particularly on sensitive geographical areas, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other global threats. EU INTCEN also offers its services to the various EU decision making bodies in the fields of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and counterterrorism (CT), as well as to the Member States. EU INTCEN is not an operational agency and does not have any collection capability. The operational level of intelligence is the member states’ responsibility. EU INTCEN only deals with strategic analysis.
The creation of the EU INTCEN – or the EU Situation Centre (EU SITCEN) as it was called until 2012 – is intimately linked to the establishment of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and the creation of the post of High Representative in 1999. The development of the ESDP crisis management capabilities, and deployment of both civilian and military missions, made it clear that a broader intelligence analysis structure was needed. The events of 11 September 2001 and the increasing threats of global terrorism also emphasised the need of timely and accurate intelligence analysis to support EU policy making.
In 2002, EU SITCEN was established in the Council General Secretariat, directly attached to the office of the High Representative, Dr Javier Solana. The same year, staff from Member States’ intelligence services were seconded to EU SITCEN. In 2005, EU SITCEN was reinforced by the arrival of a team of counter-terrorist experts seconded from Member States’ security services. This enabled EU SITCEN to provide the Council with strategic terrorism threat assessments based on intelligence from national services.
In 2007, the EU SITCEN reinforced its collaboration with the EU Military Staff (EUMS) Intelligence Directorate by concluding a functional arrangement, the so-called Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). All intelligence assessments issued to Member States are joint products prepared under SIAC. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, EU SITCEN came under the authority of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission. On 1 January 2011, the EU SITCEN was transferred to the European External Action Service (EEAS). Following organisational changes in the EEAS in March 2012, the EU SITCEN was renamed into EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (EU INTCEN).
Main functions and tasks
- Provide exclusive information that is not available overtly or provided elsewhere to the High Representative/Vice President and the PSC, based on contributions from Member States’ intelligence and security services;
- Provide assessments and briefings and a range of products based on intelligence and open sources to the High Representative/Vice President and to the EEAS, to the various EU decision making bodies in the fields of CSFP/CSDP and CT, as well as to the Member States;
- Act as a single entry point in the EU for classified information coming from Member States’ civilian intelligence and security services;
- Support and assist the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission in the exercise of their respective functions in the area of external relations.
Sources, products and services
EU INTCEN’s analytical products are based on information provided by Member States’ security and intelligence services, open sources (media, websites, blogs etc.), diplomatic reporting, consular warden networks, international organisations, NGOs, CSDP missions and operations, EU Satellite Centre, visits and field trips.
EU INTCEN offers its customers the following products:
- Intelligence assessments: Long-term strategic papers, mainly based on intelligence.
- Intelligence reports: Follow-up of a crisis or an event, or a thematic paper focusing on a specific topic of current interest.
- Intelligence summaries: Focusing on current important events with a short intelligence based analysis.
- Threat assessments: Focusing on risks for EU personnel in a given country.
In addition to these products, EU INTCEN gives ad-hoc briefings, e.g. to the HR/VP, EU Special Representatives, various Council bodies and the European Parliament.
The EU INTCEN is a Directorate of the EEAS, reporting directly to the High Representative. It is composed of two Divisions: The Analysis Division and the General and External Relations Division.
The majority of EU INTCEN staff are EU officials and temporary agents. Furthermore a number of national experts from the security and intelligence services of the EU Member States are seconded to EU INTCEN.
The EU INTCEN does not have its own budget. All expenditure is paid from the EEAS budget. The needs for staff and budget are assessed in the same way and through the same procedures as for other EEAS departments. The EEAS budget is broken down and managed for the headquarters as a whole by nature of expenditure (e.g. staff, buildings, information and communication technologies) and not by department.
The EU INTCEN (EU Intelligence Analysis Centre) is the successor of the EU Situation Centre (EU SITCEN), which is mentioned in Article 4, paragraph 3, sub (a), third indent of the Council Decision (2010/427/EU) of 26 July 2010 on establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service. The reference to the EU SITCEN in the Council Decision serves as legal basis for EU INTCEN, which took over the intelligence and analytical tasks of EU SITCEN.
UPDATES (new to old)
UPDATE 2018-12-xx: Intelligence Support for EU Security Policy – Options for Enhancing the Flow of Information and Political Oversight (mirror: .pdf). Abstract: “Since 2015, security cooperation between European Union (EU) member states has progressed at an accelerated pace. For the Union’s foreign, security, and defence policy, there is the prospect that increased cooperation and enhanced arms cooperation will create more international capacity to act. As far as internal security is concerned, the continuing threat of terrorism is spurring the establishment of a “European Security Union” based on an intensive exchange of information between security authorities. In the shadow of these developments is the question of the extent to which European intelligence cooperation should also be promoted. In this particularly sensitive area, no steps towards integration that would attract public attention are to be expected. However, existing approaches to intelligence support for EU security policy should be deepened and better monitored.”
UPDATE 2017-10-05: German spy officials dismiss calls to create European intelligence agency (IntelNews)
UPDATE 2017-09-13: EU intelligence agency not a priority (Nikolaj Nielsen, EU Observer)
UPDATE 2017-07-17: Counter-terrorism recommendations from 2006 declassified (Statewatch) — policy paper drafted on the basis of IntCen papers (IntCen was then known as Joint Situation Centre, or SitCen); refers to the Dutch-initiated Terrorism Work Group (TWG). Also, unrelated: a Master’s Thesis: Intelligence Effectiveness in the EU in the New Security Environment (.pdf, by Constantin-Marian Birsan, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, December 2012) and another Master’s Thesis: The Post-9/11 European Union Counterterrorism Response: Legal-Institutional Framework (.pdf, by Bozenko Devoic, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, December 2012).
UPDATE 2015-02-11: Secrecy reigns at the EU’s Intelligence Analysis Centre (.pdf, 2013, Statewatch) — analysis by Chris Jones / Statewatch.
UPDATE 2015-02-09: the Draft Council Conclusions on Counter-Terrorism (.pdf, Feb 6) state: “Reinforcing, within the existing parameters, the role of EU INTCEN as the hub for strategic intelligence assessment at EU level, including on counter-terrorism”. I.e., no new mandate for EU intelligence centre.