EU plans own spy system after US scandal

EU plans own spy system after US scandal
Sat Jul 27, 2013 08:12:52

The European Union is planning to “own and operate” spy drones, surveillance satellites and aircraft as part of a new intelligence and security agency under the control of EU’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

EU proposals are seen to be a major step towards creating an independent EU military body with its own equipment and operations.

According to the Daily Telegraph the European Commission and Ashton’s European External Action Service want to create military command and communication systems to be used by the EU for internal security and defense purposes.

Under the proposals, purchasing plans will be drawn up by autumn, the British daily quoted some officials.

The use of the new spy drones and satellites for “internal and external security policies”, will include police intelligence, the internet, protection of external borders and maritime surveillance.

Senior European officials regard the plan as an urgent response to the recent scandal over American and British communications surveillance by creating EU’s own security and spying agency.

“The Edward Snowden scandal shows us that Europe needs its own autonomous security capabilities, this proposal is one step further towards European defense integration,” said a senior EU official.

The proposal said “the commission will work with the EEAS on a joint assessment of dual-use capability needs for EU security and defense policies”.

It continued: “On the basis of this assessment, it will come up with a proposal for which capability needs, if any, could best be fulfilled by assets directly purchased, owned and operated by the Union.” A commission official confirmed the proposal.

There is already an intense behind-the-scenes battle pitting London against the rest over plans to create an EU military operations headquarters in Brussels.

Lady Ashton, the European foreign minister, the commission and France – backed by Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland – all support the plans. Both sets of proposals are likely to come to a head at an EU summit fight in December.

“We would not support any activity that would mean the Commission owning or controlling specific defense research assets or capabilities,” said a British government spokesman.

Britain has a veto but the group of countries have threatened to use a legal mechanism, created by the Lisbon Treaty, to bypass the British and create a major rift in NATO.

The spy drones and secure command systems would be linked to a £3.5 billion spy satellite project known as Copernicus which will be used to provide “imaging capabilities to support Common Security and Defense Policy missions and operations”.

Currently Copernicus is due to be operated by the European Space Agency.


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