Saturday, June 04, 2011

Europe's secret - The Joint Situation Centre

Tim Schumacher - 06.04.2011 - from German in bad Google translation so be completed...

"In beginning of 2010, Haiti was hit by a huge earthquake, destroying hard. Countless people died and the lack of access to essential resources was for many people in the Caribbean nation an existential problem.

As security heralds of the European Union, shortly after the earthquake, on 18.01.2010, a team of the EU Joint Situation Centre "(EU SitCen) on the island and immediately began his work (see" Operational Application of SitCen: Haiti) . SITCEN (center position) is an institution that, although the EU has not officially a secret, important intelligence duties at the European level. The operations center is also working far away from any democratic control, and the European Parliament in 2010 a study was commissioned to determine how the SitCen can be better monitored. In the invitation it was said that the situation center has "the potential to grow into a full-fledged intelligence" (Wettach / Krumrey 2010).

In Haiti, the Situation Centre was entrusted with the task of gathering information to link the various local actors, and even to lead a mission. In addition to its operational capacity is the SitCen a central role in the determination of European threat assessment.

Redefine the threat assessment

The hegemonic threat analysis and the closely related security strategy had changed dramatically since the 1990s. To the economic crisis of the 1970s came the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the USSR. During the Cold War the Warsaw Pact countries were perceived as a paramount threat that united the transatlantic alliance and allowed a close intelligence cooperation (Heinrich 2006: 138f).

The list of today's threats led by a point that seems to be on everyone's lips: Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution, the "international Islamist terrorism (...) is one of the biggest threats to the international community and also for internal security Germany ". (Engelke 2008:31) develops, but the list of threats is even longer:" illegal immigration, cyber crime, organized crime and climate change "were added (Shapcott 2008:26). The coalition agreement of CDU-CSU-FDP government in addition to the previously mentioned nor "piracy, [no] food and resource security and epidemics and diseases listed [1].

The commonality of all points is that it trans-national and are not clearly localized. This internationalization of the threat and the security policy corollary is that the confines between domestic politics and foreign policy more and more blurred. Therefore, mix the work of police, military and intelligence agencies, a militarization of police forces is inevitable. In addition, it can still less with the purely military superiority over the enemy. For the new enemies were no longer restricted to a closed territory and are difficult to distinguish from the civilian population. The population appears from this perspective as a risk factor needs to be controlled (Zelik 2009:428).

Security links

Transnational threats can be handled only limited by individual states (House of Lords, 2010:2). Therefore, the cooperation, especially in the field of security policy, strengthened and promoted the cooperation between intelligence agencies, police and military (Shapcott 2008:27). Especially the "terrorism discourse" and the subsequent process of securitization and linking of the security structures at European level play a key role in the constitution of the "Governmental identity of the European Union" (De Goede Buuren 2009:5). The common threat analysis, supported by joint actions in one, the dominant social forces in the EU. Of central importance is the economic security. Even before the former Federal President Horst Köhler noted that the German military missions and to enforce economic interests serve need, [2] remarked the former director of the SitCen William Shapcott that regional instability could threaten "European interests" (Shapcott 2008:25). Before particular, he highlighted the threat to transport routes and so-called "critical infrastructure" that can be generated by the "new threats".

EU Joint Situation Centre

Although the EU, as in the beginning mentioned above, has no official secret is the so-called "EU Joint Situation Centre" (SitCen) such a very close approximation. At the meeting of the European Council in June 1999 was to date the Western European Union (WEU) Located assumed SitCen the EU (NN 2010). In 2001 it was extended by some Member States to the intelligence structure (Shapcott 2008:27). It has a department which is 24 hours a day information, such as from news media and Satellite images, collects and evaluates the so-called "General Operation Unit" or "alert desk." It focuses the unit addition to possible trouble spots and the two very extensive subject of "terrorism" and the "proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." [3] is a department that "communication unit" is that from intelligence officials of the main Member States and the European Council, "the foreign policy of that information" provided [4] The so-called "war on terror" has been upgraded, SitCen enormous. Am 01.02. 2005 Anti-Terror Branch, known was "Civilian Intelligence Cell (CIC), situated in the SitCen. Her main task is" fighting terrorism ", where she mainly deals with" threats "and possible targets within the EU. A special focus of the Reports here is the risk of transport routes and critical infrastructure of EU Member States (NN 2010), but not all Member States have a seat in the Anti-Terror Branch of SitCen. Only France, Germany, Italy, Spain, England and Finland are in it represented.

SITCEN was subject to his total of 110 employees (including that of the BND) up to 01.01.2011 the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton. Now it has been in the newly founded "European Außwärtigen Service (EAD), whose director Ashton now is incorporated in a central location. [5] On 12/17/2010, the head of the Finnish intelligence service, Ilkka Salma, in place for post Shapcott as director of the EAD SitCen appointed. [6] The EAD SitCen is one of the crisis management tools.

SITCEN has various functions. Four of them appear to me as central: First, using the center position much of his work - if something is known about it - to the analysis of potential internal threats in the European Union. "Terrorism" and "Islamic fundamentalism" are among his key tasks (Buuren, 2009). This takes the SitCen an important role in internal security architecture of the EU.

Secondly, SitCen plays an important role in the approximation, and leveling of the security policies of the Member States. SITCEN summarizes the individual data of the national intelligence agencies and creates an analysis of the major threats to the EU. This SitCen has a certain power of definition when it comes to which threats are the most important. By building a common understanding of the most explosive threats also the growing together of European security architecture is being driven.

Third, without the basis of information from the SitCen can barely crisis management papers are drawn, for the preparation of CFSP issues (Common Foreign and Security Policy) are required.

And fourth, SitCen may conduct operational missions. In order to support missions, or, as in Haiti (see "Operational Application of SitCen: Haiti"). Be taken into its hands the same time, a much higher information quality can be achieved since the SitCen is directly involved in the action.

Power to define the security

Shapcott, said at a meeting in the House of Lords, that there is understandably considerable reluctance of national intelligence agencies to share sensitive information with an institution such as SitCen. Therefore entrusted the SitCen is mostly not with such sensitive information (House of Lords, 2010:5). SITCEN has not so deep insights into individual processes such as the national intelligence agencies. The key advantage of SitCen, however, that are brought here by many actors information with each other. Thus, it is able to produce threat assessments, which can not establish a national intelligence organization, or because of political reasons would be impossible to create.

Shapcott describes the situation as follows: "It is about ensuring that everyone has a common understanding of the threat" (Ibid: 13) Further, he says. "No SitCen report will stop a single attack that is not the answer.. The idea is to develop more sensitivity to the new direction of the threat "(Ibid: 14). SITCEN is so aware of the new threat analysis. Thus, it plays an enormously important role in the formulation, alignment and anchoring of threat analysis and ultimately in the formation of a consensus on what is recognized as the main threat. The operations center provides the breeding ground to a certain extent, upon which the militarization of the EU. In addition, SitCen has some have information that other actors such as governments, think tanks and universities have access. Thus, the power of interpretation of intelligence institutions such as the SitCen increased enormously with respect to the importance of threats.

Unifying role of the SitCen

The two pillars of the EU, on the one hand, the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, on the other the "Common Foreign and Security Policy," are formally separated, and keep it upright and separating the internal and external intelligence work. The "European Security Strategy" of 2003, however, provides for closer cooperation precisely these two areas because the boundaries between them by the threat of "terrorism" would blur more and more (Buuren 2009:7). The cooperation of internal and external intelligence activities is done here in SitCen.

Javier Solana, the then High Representative for the CFSP, urged in 2004 that Member States should provide the SitCen information about internal threats. Since its inception, working the "Civilian Intelligence Cell of SitCen thus with material of the domestic intelligence agencies of European Member States. In the same year, the cooperation of the SitCen with the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) stepped up an informal meeting of Vertreter_innen of security and intelligence organizations of all Member States of the EU, Norway and Sweden, which has the focus on combating "Islamic terrorism" (2009:10 Buuren). The CTG made to strategic reports and threat assessments for the SitCen.

The external focus of SitCen 2007 was strengthened with the establishment of the "Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity" (SIAC). This organization is run by SitCen and the intelligence department of the EU Military Staff, the military-intelligence data within the EU collects (Ibid).

In SitCen so run internal and external intelligence structures together as well as horizontal and vertical security structures. By SitCen the coalescence of the European security architecture will be deepened further (Shapcott 2008:27).


The change in the threat assessment is an important moment in the protection of the hegemonic policy of the EU dar. Especially driving the debate forward to a "terrorist threat" the growing together of European intelligence and security structure. SITCEN is playing a central role in defining the new threats are. As the work of the SitCen is extremely opaque, however, as all publications are kept under lock and can not be tested on concrete examples, what influence the SitCen to the different stakeholders.

The information superiority and the power to define threats remain a contested field in which the SitCen, even with his new role in the European External Action Service will play a crucial role.

-- Buuren, Jelle van (2009): Secret Truth. The Joint Situation Centre. Amsterdam: Eurowatch, einsehbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011).

-- Engelke, Hans-Georg (2008): „Terrorismusbekämpfung in Deutschland und die Bedeutung nachrichtendientlicher Kooperation," in: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz: Terrorismusbekämpfung in Europa - Herausforderung für die Nachrichtendienste, S. 31-39.

-- House of Lords (2010): EU Internal Security Strategy. Evidnece Session No 2. Questions 40-66. Witness: William Shapcott. 06.12.2010.

-- NN (2010): Eine europäische CIA. Einlesbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011)

-- Rettman, Andrew (2010): Ashton to take command of US-type situation room. Einlesbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011)

-- Schumacher, Tim (2010): „Lex paciferat. Das Gesetz wird Frieden bringen: Ein Blick auf die europäischen Gendarmeriekräfte," in: Ausdruck - Magazin der Informationsstelle Militarisierung e.V., Ausgabe 4, S. 18-23.

-- Shapcott, William (2008): „The role of the EU Joint Situation Centre in the European Security Architecture," in: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz: Terrorismusbekämpfung in Europa - Herausforderung für die Nachrichtendienste, S. 25-30.

-- Wettach, Silke / Krumrey, Henning (2010): Europäischer CIA, Wirtschaftswoche, 23.09.2010

-- Zelik, Raul (2009): „Aufstandsbekämpfung und Besatzungskrieg," in: Peripherie, Nr. 116/2009, S. 425-447.


[1]Koalitionsvertrag zwischen CDU, CSU und FDP, 26.10.2009, Zeile 5250-5252

[2]Interview mit Christopher Ricke am 22.05.2010. Einsehbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011)

[3]Aus dem Parlamentsprotokoll des britischen Parlaments. Einlesbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011)

[4]Die Quellen sind hier nicht eindeutig: „German Foreign Policy" berichtet von der Abteilung aus Geheimdienstangestellten, erwähnt aber die „Communication Unit" nicht, das Protokoll UK berichtet von drei Abteilungen, aber erwähnt die Geheimdienstangestellten nicht.

[5]Das Organigramm des EAD ist unter folgender Adresse einsehbar: (Letzter Zugriff: 15.03.2011)

[6]CSDP Newsletter, Issue 11, S.8. Einlesbar unter: (Letzter Zugriff:15.03.2011)"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fwiw, PSC meeting scheduled for next Tuesday, 6/7/11: