26 September 2018

European Union’s Council Presidency- how can our country improve Union’s internal security level?

Marian Tutilescu

Romania’s calling on European Union’s Council rotating Presidency is an event with a utmost importance for our country, a truly capacity exam, during which it has to prove what it can do to consolidate the European construction, in an extremely complex international context. Moreover, Romania has the opportunity to show vision and innovator spirit in providing viable solutions to a range of challenges that the Union is facing , this way contributing to the cohesion and the solidarity consolidation among the member states.

Image source: Mediafax

Context, challenges, potential solutions

Romania’s Presidency work program at EU’s Council will be developed accordingly with Council’s work Program for 18 months, in Presidencies Trio format, along with Finland and Croatia, to ensure the continuity and the finality of the European common goals. All of this aside, after the national consultations, connected with the EU agenda, four main pillars of Romanian Presidency’s work agenda have been established, as follows:

  • Assuring a fair and durable development for all the member states, through an increased convergence, cohesion, innovation, digitalization and connectivity level;
  • Maintaining a safe Europe;
  • Strenghtening the European Union’s global role;
  • Promoting Europe’s common values (cohesion, equality, democracy, human dignity, solidarity) which are the basis of the European construction.

In an extremely complicated European context, dominated by the major impact of the illegal migration over the majority of the member states and by the consequences of new manifestation forms of terrorist actions and transnational criminality, obviously one of the most important pillars of Romania’s work agenda had to be upkeeping of the Union’s internal security level, maintaining a safe Europe. This objective stays among the current’s Presidencies Trio priorities as well. Austria’s Precidency motto is, for example, “ An Europe which protects” and the first ot its three priorities is “security and fight against illegal migration”.

Yet, the objective regarding the improvement of European Union’s security level has many dimensions, which have to be separately approached, from the perspective of the sensitive aspects, as well as the potential identified solutions.

Strengthening European Union’s internal security

European Union’s Internal Security Strategy, revised for the 2015-2020 period, has defined the strategic orientation of the legislative and operational planning for this period, across the freedom, security and justice area.  In the middle of the renewed Strategy’s implementation, respectively on October 12, 2017, the Council adopted Conclusions regarding the evaluation of the activities developed and the accomplished results, identifying a range of uppermost domains like improving the exchange of information and enhancing the fight against cyber- criminality, recommending also the improvement of the cooperation with third countries, to tackle the root  causes of the security problems.

We expect , during Romania’s Presidency, the European Council to ask for the Final evaluation of the 2015-2020 internal security strategy, and across the Presidencies Trio, Romania-Finland-Croatia, to be negotiated Council’s Conclusions regarding EU’s next internal security strategy. Romania will have the opportunity, through experts from the working groups pertaining to the “internal affairs” field, to contribute at identifying some feasible  solutions against the security threats that the Union is facing.

An uppermost domain, across the measures for improving Union’s internal security climate, is developing policing activities based on technology, mobility and intelligence analysis.

Implementing the “Intelligence-Led Policing” concept in all EU member states was made differently, according to the national needs and especially to the models they had available, respectively the support offered by the implementation partners. Such various models and extremely diversified analytical tools were performed so that the analytical products not always could be used by other law enforcement agencies from other partner countries in the fight against transnational organized crime or terrorism.

In an extremely pragmatic way, Romanian experts in the intelligence analysis field, are proposing an innovative implementation solution of a concept based on common standards of  developing the analytical products- “novel actionable information”. This concept underlines the need to develop some early warning mechanisms over the risks and the threats which are targeting EU’s citizens security, to efficiently intervene against such incidents. To become effective, this initiative must be discussed initially across the specialized Working Party - LEWP-Law Enforcement Working Party, whose presidency will be chaired by an expert of the Romanian Authorities in the intelligence analysis field.  Defining some European standards in the intelligence analysis field to develop common concepts will, definitely, bring added value for the analytical products, facilitating its use by the competent authorities from all member states.

The second initiative that the Romanian experts in the home affairs domain proposed to launch across the Romanian Presidency of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA), respectively, across the Law Enforcement Working Party, is offering a European dimension to the Community Policing concept. The initiative, itself, is related to 615/2008 Decision of the JHA Council and extends provisions’ appliance of the Prum Treaty[1] in the police cooperation area regarding terrorism combat and cross-border criminality, signed in 2005 by Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Holland and Austria, for all member states.

Let’s not forget that the cooperation domains related to Prum Treaty, which became a part of the Schengen Acquis, are:

  • Automatic access to  DNA’s national databases, to investigate the criminal offences;
  • Providing information regarding the major events, which involve many member states (major sport events, cultural manifestations), to prevent criminal threats and preserve the public order;
  • Providing information to prevent terrorist attacks;
  • Other measures to improve the police cooperation between neighbouring countries  like common patrols, other common measure to prevent crimes and preserve the public order; 

The adjustment of the Romanian experts innitiative of the community policing concept at the particularities of the communities from different member states, actually, refers to the concrete support of those EU member states whose territories have important communities of citizens from other EU member states, including by assigning some policemen by the member state those citizens are part of. This measure aims, on one hand, to create a better communication between the authorities and the respective communities in order to understand their needs and expectations from the local security environment, and on the other hand, to support the authorities from the state on whose territory the community resides, to adapt their action methods to the specific and the culture of that community.

At a first sight it would seem that such a proposal does not benefit Romania, a country whose citizens developed significant communities on the territory of many member states, because it would need to assign a significant number of policemen to work together with their colleagues in the Romanian communities from Spain, Italy, France etc. In fact, this has been happening for many years and I am talking here about the annual assignment, since 2010, of around 40 romanian policemen in France, but this measure is based on a bilateral agreement, and the costs supported by the Romanian authorities are quite significant. When such an approach will be adopted at European level, eventually through Council’s Conclusions, it could also be created a dedicated fund, which would exempt member states – the sender and the beneficiary - of a significant burden for the specialized institutions budgets.

Cyber Security

The dependency of the public environment and the private one of digital networks and infrastructure and, all around, of the informatic resources, can generate serious economic, politic, military or social vulnerabilities.

In 2004, was set-up the European Network and Information Security Agency, whose activity is based on three domains:

  • Offers recommendations for the specialized agencies of the member states to improve the cyber security domain;
  • Provides support to the member states for developing policies in the field and for implementing them;
  • Directly cooperates with the national authorities by proving specialized  training;

In 2013, was adopted the European’s Union’s Cyber-crime Strategy, being EU’s first   comprehensive policy document in this field. Currently, on Council’s legislative agenda awaits a proposal regarding the extension of ENISA’s competences and, implicitly, agency’s structure. In these circumstances, during its Presidency, Romania can share the best practices in the cyber-security domain existing at  national level, its expertise being well-known and appreciated also at NATO’s level.

Across this objective, we must mention that, in October 2017, the Commission launched the Council’s and European’s Parliament Directive proposal on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment. The proposal aims to create a new legal framework in this field, considering the challenges regarding the technological evolutions, and also the virtual money and mobile payments.

From this perspective, during its presidency, Romania can play a catalytic role of the efforts made, in this domain, at an European level, considering the expertise that it has and especially the professionalism of the Romanian experts. In these circumstances, we must not forget that Romania assumed, for the second consecutive cycle of EU policies to be the driver for the priority regarding frauds combat connected to electronic payment methods, and co-driver for the priority regarding the cyber-criminality/attacks against informatic systems.

Integrated management of European Union’s external border

This objective is a priority also on the agenda of the current Austrian Presidency, so that some of the legislative proposal which are on Council’s agenda and were not completed until the end of the year, will be taken over by the Romanian Presidency.

We are talking about the proposal regarding the modification of the 1624/2016 Regulation, regarding the extension of the  European Border Coast Guard  Agency’s competences, known also as FRONTEX, and managing the negotiations about the modification of the EUROSUR Regulation.[2]

We are reminding you that, at the moment, the agency has an intervention reserve consisting of  1500 border policemen and members of the coast guard, pertaining to the member states, with a suitable equipment, able to be deployed in the shortest time possible on the areas afflicted by a major migratory pressure. With this new proposal, the Commission wants to increase this force to 10.000 people. Approving such proposal is yet dependent also on the approval of EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework, which is to be negotiated next year.

Therefore, here is another reference aspect which will impact Romanian Presidency’s activity of EU’s Council and which can be valorized to finance the operational priorities with the highest efficiency level. It is extremely important that, during the Presidency’s period, our representatives from the working groups and the Council,  keep a permanent contact with the Commission and European Agency’s representatives from the reference domain, and, not least, with Romania’s Permanent Representation to the EU from Brussels.

Regarding EUROSUR, this is an European agency which assures the operational cooperation management of the member states at EU’s external borders. The agency receives information from EUROSUR’s national centers and the states which are at Union’s maritime and land external border regarding the illegal migration and carries out  analysis regarding the trend and the vulnerabilities in this field, and  then offers them to the Commission, other EU agencies (EBCG, EUROPOL) and to the member states. The Romanian Presidency of JHA’s Council will have to draw all the attention on  the evolution of the negotiations and to make efforts for completing these until the end of  its mandate, considering the importance of the proposals.

We mentioned just a few of Romanian Presidency’s priorities of JHA’s Council - the Home Affairs section. Considering the complexity of the domain and the challenges that the Romanian experts in the field must face, we want to comeback to the aspects regarding efficient and long-lasting management, the fight against terrorism, the European cooperation in the civil protection domain and ensuring the informatic systems interoperability on large scale at EU’s level, which are the other priorities that the Romanian Presidency assumed at the “Home Affairs” section of JHA’s Council.

[1] http://www.schengen.mai.gov.ro/Documente/utile/catutil/DE%20LA%20SCHENGEN%20LA%20PRUM%20final.pdf


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