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The Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security is set to be established

The Lisbon Treaty provided for the creation of a standing committee “to ensure that operational cooperation on internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union." The Justice and Home Affairs Council has not wasted time, and on 26 February adopted a decision setting up the Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI). Under such decision the COSI will be focus on promoting and strengthening operational cooperation between Member States’ competent authorities with responsibility for internal security. The decision states that COSI “shall not be involved in conducting operations” as this will “remain the task of the Member States”, nevertheless it will have a coordination role. In fact, it has the power to coordinate the actions of national police, customs and civil protection authorities, external border protection authorities as well as “judicial cooperation in criminal matters relevant to operational cooperation in the field of internal security.” It will “ensure effective operational cooperation and coordination” of the abovementioned Member States’ authorities, however it is not clear yet in which circumstances. It remains to be seen what will be COSI’s precise scope and tasks as the present decision just provides for its establishment.

Moreover, it will be in charge of “evaluating the general direction and efficiency of operational cooperation with the goal to identify possible shortcomings” as well as adopting “recommendations to address them.”

The COSI will also assist the Council in applying the so called ‘solidarity clause’, introduced by the Lisbon treaty, which compels the Member States to act together in the event of a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Hence, the Union as well as each Member State has to provide assistance to a Member State affected by a human or natural disaster or by a terrorist attack.

The Standing Committee would not be involved in preparing legislative acts but it has an advisory role.

Whereas the committee is required to report its activities to the Council, the Council solely is required to “keep the EP and national parliaments informed.” Hence, such committee will not be subject to a proper parliamentary control.

The COSI will be composed by Member States´s representatives. Moreover, representatives of the different EU agencies such as Eurojust, Europol , Frontex may attend COSI meetings as observers.

The Council also adopted an Internal Security Strategy for the European Union. The COSI is in charge of "developing, monitoring and implementing" this strategy. The strategy identifies common threats for the internal security of the EU such as terrorism, serious and organised crime, cyber-crime , cross-border crime, youth violence or hooligan violence at sports events, natural and man-made disasters and calls for “an EU-wide approach” to respond to these challenges.

The Council agreed that “The time has come to harness and develop common tools and policies to tackle common threats and risks using a more integrated approach.” Consequently, the strategy sets out a European security model, “which integrates action on law enforcement and judicial cooperation, border management and civil protection.”

The strategy lays down “ten guidelines for action” to “guarantee the EU's internal security over the coming years.” It puts strong emphasis on “prevention and anticipation” based on an “a proactive, intelligence-led approach.” It states that “Member states need to step up information sharing, making full use of biometric and other technologies.” It calls, therefore, for the development and improvement of “prevention mechanisms such as analytical tools or early-warning systems” including a European Passenger Names Record (PNR).

Moreover, the strategy is also focus on information exchange. In fact, it provides for the “Development of a comprehensive model for information exchange” based on “mutual trust and culminating in the principle of information availability.” In this way law enforcement authorities will be force to share further data. It is important to recall that the Advisory Group on the Future of European Home Affairs Policy has pointed out that the principle of availability collides with the principle of confidentiality which has been vital for the exchange of information by national intelligence services. It has favoured the principle of availability as it stressed that “relevant security-related information should be available to all security authorities in the Member States.” We are likely to see not only an increase of exchange of information between national police forces but also between intelligence services.

The strategy also stresses the need to reinforce “The integrated border-management mechanism” and foresees the creation of a European system of border guards. The inclusion of the concept of an "integrated system of external border management" in the Lisbon Treaty represents another step towards the creation of a 'European Border Guard' with consequences to national sovereignty. The creation of a European Border Guard entails external border control standards which would have to be implemented by national forces in charge of border controls which have different powers from one member state to another. It would require significant changes to Member States national services in charge of border controls.

The European Council is set to endorse this strategy on 26 March. Then, the Commission will adopt a Communication on the Internal Security Strategy proposing concrete actions. Cecilia Malmström, European commissioner for home affairs, will present several initiatives to address the identified common threats. Furthermore, the Commission might set up an Internal Security Fund to promote the implementation of the Internal Security Strategy. It should be mentioned that the Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (security research programme), which will last till 2013, has a total budget of over €50 billion. The European Security Research Programme spends annually up to €1 billion of tax payer’s money for security research, research into surveillance and control technologies.


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Bill Cash has been the Conservative Member of Parliament for Stone since 1997 and an MP since 1984.

He is currently the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee and the founder member of the European Foundation...

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