Intelligence and Decision-Making within the Common Foreign and Security Policy

Written by | Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Fägerstern Björn (The Swedish Institute for European Policy Studies)

The feeling of security is one of the basic needs. However, states and organizations are often forced to make decisions in the atmosphere of uncertainty. When this uncertainty concerns security and foreign policies, it is when this becomes a fundamental issue. Security-related concerns have increased primarily after a series of terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September 2001. In the wake of these events, experts have been asked to ponder how to reduce the risk of similar tragedies. One of the proposed solutions was to develop cooperation within the intelligence community. There is a number of reasons why intelligence needs to be further developed. For example, states that have better information are more capable of influencing the current events. Furthermore, thanks to intelligence, states can also prevent conflict. Although intelligence should be essential for the sake of security, it is surprising that in the EU, this area remained long forgotten.

The way intelligence influences international security also contributes to a greater cohesion of the EU. Cooperation within the EU is useful because information sharing from the central body do national agencies is faster than if it was conducted only between two entities. Multilateral cooperation within the intelligence services has, however, its own drawbacks. One example of this could be when EU countries are becoming dependent on one another. EU’s intelligence services can be divided into several phases: First, it is the decision that something needs to be found out. The obtained information is subsequently collated and finally EU countries exchange that information before it eventually reaches the political leaders.

In the EU, intelligence activities are ensured by several intelligence agencies. The main tool is the IntCen, which is a body tasked with conducting analytical activities. It should be the case that those who are involved in intelligence activities are politically neutral. Nevertheless, in reality, the border between red tape and politics is unclear. To conclude, in light of the current international political events, it is vital to support the development of EU intelligence services. However, if we want to secure a better functioning of intelligence services, it would be appropriate to introduce some changes. Most importantly, a clear vision of the EU’s foreign policy should be formulated because without this, we cannot expect to achieve effective results.

(The study can be downloaded here:

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