Question for written answer: Democratic oversight of the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre

Question for written answer E-001243/2021
to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Rule 138
Lars Patrick Berg (ID)

Subject: Democratic oversight of the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (INTCEN)

There appears to be little democratic accountability for the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (INTCEN). Its transfer from the Western European Union in its previous incarnation, and the legal basis for that transfer, is opaque.

Given that there is no apparent legal basis for its existence, and no democratic oversight of its performance, can the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy:

1. specify the legal basis for the existence of INTCEN within the European External Action Service;

2. say which Members of the European Parliament are cleared to receive INTCEN briefings, including access to INTCEN documentation, and explain the basis on which these Members are selected to receive such briefings;

3. provide details of INTCEN’s current relationships with Member State intelligence and security agencies.

DE
E-001243/2021
Answer from HR / Vice-President Borrell
in name of the European Commission
(4.6.2021)

Council Decision 2010/427[1] is the legal basis for the existence of the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre (EU INTCEN) within the European External Action Service.

All Members of the European Parliament who intend to get EU INTCEN briefings must have a valid Personal Security Clearance (issued by the national authorities) to receive any classified intelligence in a restricted briefing room. The Director of EU INTCEN provides briefings, in compliance with the EU classified information (EUCI) rules, typically in Committee on Foreign Affairs ( AFET) and Subcommittee on Security and Defence ( SEDE) meetings[2] according to the ‘third party rule’.

EU INTCEN is not an Intelligence Service; it has no intelligence collection powers. It is an intelligence fusion centre, functioning based on finished intelligence, shared voluntarily by EU Member States’ Intelligence and Security Services[3]. EU INTCEN fuses these inputs to provide classified assessments to EU decision-makers[4], according to a strict need-to-know principle, in respect of the ‘third party rule’ and the EUCI rules[5] (and Member States’ rules).

Member States’ Intelligence and Security Services also provide expert staff (Seconded National Experts and Temporary Agents) to EU INTCEN to support its work and to facilitate contacts with national services.


[1] The EU INTCEN is the successor of the EU Situation Centre (EU SITCEN), which is mentioned in Article 4, paragraph 3, sub (a), third indent of Council Decision 2010/427 of 26 July 2010 — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex:32010D0427 (Decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service ). The aforementioned reference to the EU SITCEN serves as legal basis for EU INTCEN, which has taken over the intelligence and analytical tasks of EU SITCEN.

[2] EU INTCEN was also consulted on specific topics, exceptionally, a s it was the case with the Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR).

[3] The shared information remains owned by EU Member States

[4] High Representative, Council and European Commission

[5] Council decision on the security rules for protecting EU classified information — https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013D0488