Sunday, June 27, 2010

where is Dr. Strangelove?

Dr. Stranglove"s war room

The former High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) Javier Solana, the Spaniard, created the SitCen (Situation Centre) as an office to provide sensitive information and intelligence analysis to the European Council. (read more about it here: SECRET TRUTH, ). Now just some days after the meeting of the secrect services of Europe with Javier Solana (Link) this:

"EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - You see it in the movies: fighting has broken out somewhere in the former Soviet Union, the US president walks into his situation room, monitors are showing satellite images, security advisors are shouting at each other, the president is given a briefing note and sends an agent to gather intelligence. Now, the EU's foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, is to get a situation room of her own.

Ms Ashton will not have an army or a "European Intelligence Service" to send into action. The centre-left British politician, a former activist in the anti-nuclear CND group, is said to distrust military types and her first priority is the kitchen-sink construction of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

But she has already told EU leaders that she wants a "single crisis response centre" under her direct command and internal discussion on the Ashton situation room is at an advanced stage.

One scenario under consideration is a crisis department run by a director general and situated close to Ms Ashton's office in the EEAS headquarters, most likely in the so-called "Triangle" building facing the EU Council in the heart of the EU quarter in Brussels. It would have a staff of some 160 people and a modest budget of €10 to €20 million a year.

The situation room itself would have a conference table and banks of monitors showing breaking news and commercial satellite pictures of hotspots.In the back-rooms, the crisis department would have a team of IT experts, scientists and tacticians sifting open source data in search of conflict threats.

Ms Ashton's private intelligence would come from officials manning 24/7 hotlines to the EU's 136 foreign delegations and 14 civilian and military missions. Another unit would send people to crisis zones at short notice to hunt for information. A cell of secret-service agents seconded from key EU states would pass Ms Ashton's queries to spy agencies such as the UK's MI6 or France's DGSE and file replies.

The European Commission's existing Crisis Room and the EU Council's Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) are to form the backbone of the crisis department. SitCen already sends people into the field. When war broke out in Georgia in 2008 it dispatched two analysts to "re-inforce the EUSR [the EU special envoy to the South Caucasus] with reporting," a contact familiar with SitCen operations told this website.

In an insight into the opaque bureau's work, the source added: "These are fairly normal people who have perhaps in their lives had some experience of being out in the field in a place less comfortable than Washington. They are not spooks by any means. We avoid anybody who even looks like one. They are people who can write reports. Who do not mind not staying in five star hotels. Who know how to take precautions when they go out at night."

The new set-up is to see Ms Ashton pick up the phone or walk down the hall and "task" people herself to go overseas or to query EU countries' secret services. Current bureaucracy means that 27 EU ambassadors in the Political and Security Committee first hold a debate before tasking SitCen.

The idea is to give the EU foreign relations chief a powerful asset when she asks EU foreign ministers to deploy an EU battle-group or if she decides to send an EEAS diplomat, or even a prominent MEP, on a peace mission.

"Today, if you go through the normal channels to make a threat assessment in Kosovo, for example, by the time the [SitCen] officer gets to Pristina, it's all over," one PSC ambassador told this website.

"Imagine how effective the high representative could be if the new SitCen was to function like her shadow cabinet," a contact in the EU institutions said. "Member states are afraid to give away power. But this could be the new mega-commodity in Brussels."

Wider or deeper?

One question is whether the crisis response centre will handle man-made conflicts only, or natural disasters and pandemics also.

The wider portfolio could spark turf wars between Ms Ashton and aid and development commissioners Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs. It could also dilute EEAS resources, perpetuating the phenomenon of forgotten conflicts and threats, such as plans by UK private security firm Saracen International to build a pirate-fighting base in Somalia.

But the big question is: who will be Ms Ashton's right-hand man?

Former UK soldier and diplomat William Shapcott, who built SitCen, walked away in June to a new post in the EU Council administration, creating a risk that his successor might take a minimalist approach to the job.

One candidate for the job is French diplomat Patrice Bergamini, who worked close to Ms Ashton's predecessor, Javier Solana, and helped draft the EU's first security strategy in 2003.

The appointment could give France a monopoly on the EEAS security side, however. French diplomat Christine Roger is to be the new PSC president. French official Claude-France Arnould is the new head of the EU Council's civilian-military crisis planning office. A French secret service agent runs SitCen's intelligence-sharing cell. And French diplomat Pierre Vimont is tipped to become EEAS secretary general, in charge of the body's internal security structures.

"It would be good to have a German appointment to make sure that Germany is engaged at the highest levels. Somebody with a diplomatic and a security or intelligence background," the source in the EU institutions said.

"Nationality can be overplayed. Intel is sensitive, so in that sense you do not want to play up the [director's] national connections," the contact familiar with SitCen's work said." Link

Last week the Council of EU Ministers has approved the new European Digital Agenda, an action plan that envisages the creation of a Digital Single Market and increased confidence of European consumers in cyberspace.

  • The Spanish Presidency of the EU has worked for energy to be incorporated as one of the objectives of the Strategy EU2020 within the Flagship "A Europe that use resources efficiently."
  • During the Conference of the European Strategic Energy Technology (SET Plan) held in Madrid was officially launched the first four industrial initiatives for clean energy technologies: wind, solar, smart grids and carbon capture and storage.

Tomorrow, 2010, June 28:

- "9:00 pm: Javier Solana and Teófilo Serrano, president of Renfe, will inaugurate the seminar "Spanish Security Strategy (ESS): economics, energy, industrial and cyber-security" in the Railroad Museum Paseo de las Delicias, 61 .Link, The seminar was organized at the request of the Government Presidency and Javier Solana, Commissioner for the Prime Minister to guide the development of the Spanish Security Strategy (ESS) bv the Elcano Royal with a group of about 60 experts representatives of public and private sector, in order to explore issues related to four areas of growing importance and complexity: economic security, energy security, the security industry and cybersecurity." Link

"ANTONIO Papell On 21 June, was achieved an agreement in principle between Parliament, Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Policy on the internal differences that were resolved on the operation and budgetary control of the European External Action Service ( SEAE), the "pharaonic" European diplomatic corps, created by the Treaty of Lisbon, is preparing to show the inanity of Europe policy around the world, under the leadership of Catherine Ashton, whose competence has been widely questioned in a variety of community fronts...
The political vacuum that develops in this initiative is not hidden at all by its main sponsors: Verhofstadt, former Prime Minister of Belgium and now an important member of Parliament, has declared shamelessly that "we need the structure first, then comes politics." He added later that, in his view, once the service begins to operate, the EU countries observe its advantages. In short, the lavish deployment is done without a real reason for doing so. Not supply but demand is a mystery.

For now-recognized, "this new" service will "only be useful for 'small' countries of the EU that have very few diplomatic missions in the world (Latvia is cited as an example), medium and large countries instead will not notice any benefit (rather the opposite: the duplicity is tangled).
The plan to handle the European institutions is that the offices of diplomatic rank of SEAE covered about two thirds (farmer: 66,6%) of officials from the EU (Commission officials and diplomats who have worked on the structure created by Javier Solana) and one-third Member States diplomats "on loan" to be eligible to join the Community staff. To do this, the EU prepared for the coming months a call for posts (about 100 this year and as many in 2011) and the transfer of more than 800 officials from various departments of the Commission and Council to the service.

This would add initially about 1000-1100 diplomatic officials, even if you add the lower-ranking employees or local contracts, the EEAS would have between 5,000 and 6,000 members.
All this cost-invention as the initial forecast of the Commission says is about 50,000 million euros until 2013. At this time calling for austerity and all invest this huge amount of resources in a pipe dream may be the last straw for the already very fallen prestige of the European institutions."Link

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