Foreign and defence ministers from 25 Member States have agreed to establish a Joint EU Intelligence School, training intelligence professionals across the EU.
The Joint EU Intelligence School comes as part of a wider defence agreement, signed off by all Member States except Denmark, Malta and the UK. Other projects signed off under the Permanent Structured Cooperation pact include an upgrade to the European attack helicopter, the creation of a new generation of drones; and the building of a SHIELD-style high atmosphere airship for “intelligence gathering and reconnaissance”.
17 projects including the Joint EU Intelligence School were approved in total: Germany and Italy will oversee drone development; the Czech Republic will focus on developing electronic warfare capability. Bulgaria will produce the “deployable modular underwater intervention capability” package, which aims to generate a quick reaction capability for special forces operating at sea and on inland bodies of water.
Implementation of the Joint EU Intelligence School, which will purportedly train intelligence agents from EU countries with the cooperation of NATO and the intelligence and security services of Member States, will be led by Greece and Cyprus, the two Member States with closest ties to Russia. This has caused some consternation among critical observers.
Member State leaders have become increasingly supportive of cooperative defence efforts across the EU, like the Joint EU Intelligence School, in the last few years; with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week calling for an EU-wide show of collective strength. NATO Member States are committed to spending at least two per cent of their GDP on defence projects.
Until recently the UK was reluctant to approve measures which would augment intelligence cooperation across the EU, on the basis that such measures could theoretically compete with the Five Eyes alliance, comprising the intelligence services of the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. However with the UK’s impending exit from the EU, its approval of the Joint EU Intelligence School was largely unnecessary.