Category Archives: European Union

Constructing the secret EU state: “Restricted” and “Limite” documents hidden from view by the Council

Constructing the secret EU state: “Restricted” and “Limite” documents hidden from view by the Council
http://www.statewatch.org/analyses/no-240-restricted-documents.pdf

– Over 117,000 “RESTRICTED” documents produced or handled by the Council since 2001 but only 13,184 are listed in its public register of documents

– 103,839 “RESTRICTED” documents not listed in the Council’s public register due to the “originators” right of veto?

– The Council seeks to stop the publication of unreleased “LIMITE” documents, which are defined as “sensitive unclassified documents”

– The Commission has failed to implement the Lisbon Treaty to ensure that all legislative documents are made public as they are produced  – this means that 60% of Council documents relating to legislative decision-making  are made public after “the final adoption” of measures

– The Council uses Article 4.3, the “space to think”, to refuse access to 50% of requests for access to legislative documents under discussion

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

“The Council have constructed a two-tier system of secrecy to keep from public view thousands and thousands of documents. This has been compounded by the failure of the European Commission to put forward proposals to implement the provision in the Lisbon Treaty to make all documents concerning the legislative procedure public.

In place of the need to deepen democratic openness and accountability in EU the Council has entrenched a system of secrecy based on its discretion to decide whether and when to make documents public.

The result is that the European legislature – the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament – meet in secret trilogues to decide over 80% of new laws going through the EU.”

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

NeoConOpticon: The EU Security-Industrial Complex

Transnational Institute in Association with Statewatch, 2006

This report was produced by Ben Hayes for Statewatch and the Transnational Institute. Additional research was conducted by Max Rowlands and Fiona O’Malley of Statewatch, while Tony Bunyan and Trevor Hemmings (also Statewatch) provided a constant stream of invaluable comments, information and guidance (several sections also draw heavily on Tony Bunyan’s columns for the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Liberty Central’ website). The information and analysis provided by Frank Slijper (Dutch Campaign Against the Arms Trade and TNI), Matthias (from Gipfelsoli), and Kamil Mraijcek (ECCHR) was also invaluable, as was Thomas Mathiesen’s advice in respect to the variations on the ‘Panopticon’ discussed in this report.

In 2006, Statewatch and the Transnational Institute published Arming Big Brother, a briefing paper examining the development of the European Union’s Security Research Programme (ESRP). The ESRP is a seven year, €1.4 billion programme predicated on the need to deliver new security enhancing technologies to the Union’s member states in order to protect EU citizens from every conceivable threat to their security (understood here purely in terms of bodily safety).

The ESRP also has the explicit aim of fostering the growth of a lucrative and globally competitive ‘homeland security’ industry in Europe. To this end, a number of prominent European corporations from the defence and IT sectors have enjoyed unprecedented involvement in the development of the security ‘research’ agenda.

Arming Big Brother set out a number of concerns about the pending ESRP, including the implicit threat posed to civil liberties and fundamental rights by EU ‘research’ into surveillance and other security technologies. The report was also highly critical of the corporate influence on the EU security research programme and warned of various dangers in actively pursuing a ‘security-industrial complex’ in Europe.

This follow-up report contains new research showing how the European Security Research Programme continues to be shaped by prominent transnational defence and security corporations and other vested interests. Though technically a Research and Development (R&D) programme, the ESRP is heavily focused on the application of security technologies (rather than objective research per se ), and is increasingly aligned with EU policy in the fields of justice and home affairs (JHA, the ‘third pillar’), security and external defence (CFSP, the ‘second pillar’).

Governmental spending on products and services for homeland security should reach $141.6bn worldwide in 2009… The high priority given to homeland security has made that market one of the few recession-resistant sectors of the defence industry, some experts believe. (Visiongain Market Research, 2009 Global Homeland Security 2009-2019, ASD reports, see: http://www.asdreports.com/shopexd.asp?ID=1442)

Read the entire report:

2794_neoconopticon-report

Political and Ideological Crisis in an Increasingly More Authoritarian European Union

Asbjørn Wahl is Adviser to the Norwegian Union of Municipal Employees, Vice Chair of the Road Transport Workers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and Director of the Campaign for the Welfare State, a trade-union-based national alliance fighting privatization and liberalization. His most recent book is The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State (Pluto Press, 2011).

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​http://monthlyreview.org/2014/01/01/european-labor

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Monthly Review
2014, Volume 65, Issue 08 (January)

European Labor

Political and Ideological Crisis in an Increasingly More Authoritarian European Union

Asbjørn Wahl

Acute economic and political drama mark contemporary Europe. The terrible trauma of the financial crisis has been followed by a sovereign-debt disaster. In the countries most deeply affected, the people have been faced with massive attacks on public services, wages, pensions, trade unions, and social rights. The draconian austerity policies have pushed the situation in those countries from bad to worse, leading them into a deep depression. The result is an ever more serious social and political crisis. Mass unemployment is growing, and both in Greece and Spain youth unemployment has now passed 50 percent. In the European Union this is leading to more intense internal confrontations, both social and political.

Confronted with these multiple crises, the traditional labor movements appear perplexed and partly paralyzed. Social democracy is in political and ideological disarray and confusion, reflecting a deep crisis in these movements. On the one hand, social democrats have played a leading role in fierce attacks on trade unions and the welfare state in countries where they have been in power. On the other hand, other social democrats adopt statements and support appeals that sharply condemn the political course now followed by the European Union. The trade unions have also been stricken by the multiple crises, and have been unable to curb the attacks made on them. Of course, mass unemployment is also weakening their power and influence at the negotiating table. Extensive restructuring of industries, privatization of public services, and increased use of temporary workers have contributed to the unions’ loss of power.

This paralysis of the political left was illustrated in 2011 when huge masses of young people protested in countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy. The protest movements were inspired more by what happened at Tahrir Square in Cairo than by political parties or trade unions in their own home countries. The latter were hardly present to build alliances, to politicize, or to contribute to giving direction and content to the struggle. Instead, big parts of the trade-union bureaucracy have stagnated in a social-partnership ideology that no longer has any meaning, since capitalist forces have withdrawn from the historic post-Second World War compromise between labor and capital, and gone on the offensive to defeat the trade-union movement and get rid of the best parts of the welfare state.

While the deepest and most serious economic crisis since the depression of the 1930s is unfolding, criticism of capitalism has more or less fallen silent. The trade union and labor movements no longer represent a general, credible alternative to a crisis-ridden capitalism generating mass unemployment, poverty, suffering, and misery in great parts of the European continent. To the degree unions have put forward alternative proposals, they have ignored strategies and shown neither the ability nor willingness to put to use the means of struggle necessary to gain ground. Trade unions at the European level have sharpened their rhetoric, but they have hesitated when it comes to the necessary mobilization to resist the attacks.

How has this been possible in a part of the world that has hosted some of the strongest and most militant trade unions and labor movements in the world? Why have opposition and resistance not been stronger? And how did we come to the point where social-democratic governments in Greece, Spain, and Portugal have accounted for some of the most serious attacks on unions and the welfare state—until resistance from the population and frustrated voters ousted them from office and replaced them with right-wing governments even more faithful to financial capital?

This article deals with the challenges and barriers that trade unions now face in the European Union. There are a number of structural barriers that the European Union as a supranational institution represents, as well as internal political-ideological barriers that prevent unions from fulfilling their role in the current situation. The most important developments that are challenging, as well as threatening, what many people call Social Europe will be described: attacks on public services, pensions, wages, and working conditions, as well as strong anti-democratic tendencies. But first, it is necessary briefly to address the role of social democracy in Europe today in light of its history.

The Historical Role of Social Democracy

Much now suggests that the historical era of social democracy is over. This does not mean that political parties that call themselves Social Democratic (or Socialist, as they call themselves in southern Europe) will not be able to win elections and form governments, alone or with other parties. However, the role social democracy has played historically, as a political-party structure with a certain progressive social project, now seems to be irrevocably over. The original goals of social democracy—to develop democratic socialism through gradual reforms, place the economy under political control, and meet the economic and social needs of the great majority of the population—were given up a long time ago. Instead, what will be focused on is the role it played during its golden age—the age of welfare capitalism—as an intra-capitalist political party with a social project.

The change of the character of the social-democratic parties has developed over a long time, but today’s more intensified social contradictions help reveal what is hiding beneath the thin veil of political rhetoric. Where social democracy has been in power in EU countries in recent years, its leaders have been loyal executioners of brutal austerity policies, overseeing massive attacks on the welfare state and trade unions. In turn this has, among other things, led to dramatically reduced support for social democrats; with few exceptions, today they are hardly represented in European governments.

The role of social democracy in its golden age was to administer the class compromise—not to represent workers against capital, but to mediate between the classes within the framework of a regulated capitalist economy. As a result, the parties (especially where they were in power over long periods) changed from mass organizations of workers into bureaucratic organizations strongly integrated into the state apparatus, with dramatic losses in membership, and with their organizations increasingly converted into instruments for political careerists, and campaign machinery for a new political elite.

Based as it was on the class compromise, social democracy sank into an ever deeper political and ideological crisis as capital owners, responding to their own need to accumulate capital, gradually began to withdraw from the historic compromise around 1980. The social-democratic parties were so deeply integrated in the state apparatus that they changed alongside the state as it became strongly influenced by the emerging neoliberal hegemony. Social democratic parties have thus contributed greatly to deregulation, privatization, and the attacks on public welfare of the last few decades. This has been true whether it happened under the label of “the third way,” as in the United Kingdom; Die neue Mitte, as it was called in Germany under Gerhard Schröder; or even under the fluttering banner of folkhemmet (“the people’s home”) in Sweden. In fact, when social-democratic governments were in a majority in the late 1990s, for the first and only time in EU history, no change in the EU’s neoliberal policies took place. This led one commentator at the time to conclude that “There’s not much left of the left.”1

The political-ideological decay on the left was well illustrated by the many meaningless statements that came in the wake of the financial crisis in relation to the government emergency measures. Many social democrats in Europe stated that the big government bailouts to the banks and financial institutions were proof that the politics of the left were on their way back. State regulation and Keynesianism had once again come to honor and dignity, it was said. Even Newsweek’s front page proclaimed, “We are all socialists now.”2 The moderate, now retired, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), John Monks, said it this way: “All over Europe, everybody is a social democrat or a socialist now—Merkel, Sarkozy, Gordon Brown…. The wind is in our sails.”3

However, there is a difference between Keynesian social reform policies and desperate government bailouts to save the speculators, financial institutions, and perhaps capitalism itself. That it was the latter was realized by many only as the financial crisis changed into a sovereign debt crisis, and the stimulus packages were replaced by reactionary and anti-social austerity policies, in which banks and financial institutions were saved at the expense of ordinary people’s living standard, welfare, and jobs.

Social democracy has, without exception, supported all of the neoliberal treaties and important austerity legislation in the European Union. Social-democratic parties have fully supported the establishment of the single market, which in reality has been a systematic project of deregulation, privatization, and undermining of public services and trade unions. The problem the social-democratic parties now face is that the demands for Keynesian stimulus policies, which some of them advocate, are in violation of the same treaties and laws which they were instrumental in passing. The social democrats have painted themselves into a corner and are increasingly squeezed between growing social rebellion and their loyalty to the neoliberal European Union.

The political crisis also affects parties to the left of social democracy. In countries where such parties have been in coalition governments with social democrats—France, Italy, Norway, and Denmark—the consequences have ranged from merely negative, to disastrous. To a large degree, the small left parties have been made hostage to neoliberal policies, including support for privatization and the U.S. war machine, such as its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.4 They have not been able to be consistent critics of the system, let alone offer a credible alternative. This means that there is hardly any political or social force with strength and legitimacy in Europe today which is in a position to take the lead in organizing and coordinating the social resistance that regularly breaks out across Europe against the policies of austerity and rapidly rising inequality of income and wealth.
One of the most dramatic and dangerous consequences of this development, where the traditional labor parties pursue various degrees of neoliberal policies, is that confidence in the political left has broken down, while right-wing populism and extremism have gained ground. Parties representing these politics have now entered the stage—and parliaments—in most European countries. The indications are that a political restructuring of the left will be necessary for the labor movement once again to be able to go on the offensive and establish a wider, alternative social project.

Massive Attacks on Public Services, Wages, and Pensions

Many expected that the financial crisis, with its devastating consequences, would mean the final goodbye to neoliberalism, the speculation economy, and the hegemony of free market forces. These policies had led to a dramatic redistribution of social wealth from labor to capital, from public to private, and from the poor to the rich. The system was discredited, and surely the politicians would now realize that systematic deregulation, privatization, and free-flow capitalism had failed disastrously. The casino economy had to be stopped. In Iceland thousands of jobs, and the entire national economy, were turned into a gambling casino, where a small group of speculators enriched themselves beyond our comprehension at the expense of the country’s population. It was intolerable; the time was ripe for control and regulation.

That was not what happened. The neoliberals and the speculators, who strongly contributed to causing the crisis, remained in the driver’s seat, even when emergency measures were designed and the bills settled. Of course, what happened up until the crisis, as well as what has happened since, reflect power relations in society. It is not pure reason but the prevailing power relations that determine which “solution” is selected. Had reason prevailed—if the interests of the majority of the people had been paramount—the destructive speculation economy would have been stopped. This could have been achieved by regulation, by gaining increased democratic control of banks and other financial institutions, and by banning short selling, hedge funds, and trading in a variety of high-risk (so-called) financial instruments. This would have limited the power of the banks, restricted the free movement of capital, and reformed a tax system that now unburdens the rich and encourages unfettered speculation.

Deregulation of markets, greater inequalities in society, and extensive speculation were key factors that helped create the 2008 financial meltdown. In response, a number of governments ran up public debt to save their banks, financial institutions, and speculators. The effects were disastrous, and in many countries so many people were so strongly affected that neoliberals and speculators probably feared social unrest. Time showed, however, that there was no reason for this; popular revolt against the speculation economy failed to materialize. Trade unions in some EU countries mobilized, but a joint-European-offensive struggle never materialized. Thus, the neoliberals could continue their project of changing Europe according to their own economic and political interests.

The first thing neoliberalism’s champions and beneficiaries did was disclaim responsibility. While their unrestrained speculation and the formidable redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top had helped trigger the crisis, they now said that the problem was that people had “lived beyond their means.” Myths were and are still being spread that pensions and welfare services are gilt-edged and that these are the real causes of the crisis. In particular, the social elite and the dominant media portrayed working people in Greece as having granted themselves privileges without any real economic basis. This is being used as propaganda to legitimize widespread attack on the welfare state, while financial capital is protected.

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) quickly documented that these allegations were just myths with little connection to reality. For example, labor productivity increased twice as fast in Greece as in Germany from 1999 to 2009. According to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) statistics, on average Greeks work many more hours per year (2,152) than Norwegians (1,422) or Germans (1,430). While a few occupational groups have a low retirement age, pensions at early retirement are so low that hardly anyone is able to make use of them. For example, only thirty or forty of Athens’s 20,000 bus drivers have used the theoretical option of early retirement at age fifty-three. The real average retirement age in Greece is 60.9 years for women and 62.4 for men, which is higher than in Germany, where right-wing politicians played on these myths. These falsehoods still dominate in mainstream media and the political life in Europe, something that tells us a lot about the existing power relations, the media’s servility to the elite, and the political and ideological crisis of the left.

While the bailouts saved the speculators, governments did not use the opportunity to take increased democratic control or ownership of financial institutions. Of course, this would have been a challenging project given the enormous power capitalist forces have achieved in our societies through deregulation and accumulation of wealth over the last decades. The final communiqué of the G20 meeting in Toronto, Canada in June 2010 gave us an excellent example of this. It contained little but the well-known, neoliberal proposals to remove even more barriers to the free movement of capital, goods, services, and labor. There was nothing left of all the proposals that had circulated about the need for regulation of financial markets and to raise more funds from banks and financial institutions. The losses are therefore socialized while profits are privatized—once again.

Governments, the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the three latter (un)popularly called the Troika—have not reinstated Keynesian policies and re-regulated finance. Instead, they have used the crisis as an excuse to further transform society to meet the needs of finance capital. Thus the Troika now prescribes the same policy in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy as the IMF previously imposed upon developing countries and Eastern European nations through the so-called structural adjustment programs, namely massive privatizations. In Greece, for example, the railways, the water supply of Athens and Thessaloniki, utilities, ports, airports, and the remaining public ownership of the national telecommunications company have been privatized. Cuts, privatizations, and widespread attacks on public services are the order of the day in country after country. This is a recipe for depression and social crisis.

In several EU countries—the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Hungary—wages, working conditions, and pensions have been severely weakened. Pensions have been cut 15–20 percent in many countries, while wages in the public sector have been reduced from 5 percent in Spain to over 40 percent in the Baltic. In Greece, the number of public employees has already been reduced by more than 20 percent. And still more is demanded: in Spain only one in every ten vacant positions in the public sector is filled, one in every five in Italy, and one in every two in France. In Germany 10,000 public-sector jobs have already been cut, and in the United Kingdom it has been decided to cut close to half a million jobs, which in effect will involve about the same number of jobs in the private sector.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) has been increased dramatically in several countries; social benefits have been slashed, particularly for the unemployed and disabled; budgets have been cut; the labor laws have been weakened (especially employment protection); minimum wages have been reduced; universal welfare schemes have been converted to programs that are means-tested (as is the case with the British child benefit). Meanwhile, the tax on capital has been held constant—or even decreased. Collective agreements and labor rights have been set aside, not through negotiations with the unions, but by government decrees and/or political decisions. Increased competitiveness of European businesses is raised as the main aim, to which all social concerns are subordinated. This represents a new and dramatic situation in Europe. The massive austerity policy and attacks on trade unions constitute, socially and politically, a deadly mix, and the historical experiences in Europe make them particularly frightening. If the trade unions are not able to curb these developments, we face a defeat of historical dimensions for the labor movement in Europe, with enormous consequences for the development of our societies.

Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist and now professor at the University of Missouri, notes that there is a massive fight against workers taking place:

The EC [European Community] is using the mortgage banking crisis—and the needless prohibition against central banks monetizing public budget deficits—as an opportunity to fine governments and even drive them bankrupt if they do not agree [to] roll back salaries…. “Join the fight against labour, or we will destroy you,” the EC is telling governments. This requires dictatorship, and the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken over this power from elected governments. Its “independence” from political control is celebrated as the “hallmark of democracy” by today’s new financial oligarchy…. Europe is ushering in an era of totalitarian neoliberal rule.5

Towards an Authoritarian Europe

The European Union’s role has been crucial for what is now taking place in Europe. In addition to the democratic deficit that is embedded in EU institutions, these institutions have been formed and shaped during the neoliberal era. They are dominated by the interests of capital to an extraordinarily high degree. The crisis has been used to wage a massive battle from the heights of the European Union’s governance institutions to further transform Europe in the image of capital.

More and more political power is being transferred to the unelected EU institutions in Brussels. The European Union’s only elected body, the European Parliament, has been sidelined from much of the process. The European Union therefore now moves in the direction of further de-democratisation, at a speed and in a manner with frightening possibilities.

Currently this development is carried out through a number of political innovations:

The European semester, which means that national governments each year will have to submit their proposals for state budgets and structural changes to Brussels for “approval.”
The Euro Plus Pact, a deregulation and austerity pact that includes all Euro countries and other EU nations that have decided to join (the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Sweden have remained outside of it). Attacks on working hours, wages, and pensions are part of the pact.
New economic governance, with six new laws, also called the “six-pack.” The package is intended to provide the legal basis for the implementation of the dramatic austerity policies, including enforcement rules.
The Fiscal Pact, which, according to the German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, should be irreversible, and which will centralize and further de-democratize the economic power of the European Union, through (among other things) the introduction of financial and other sanctions against member states that do not comply with the requirements. It is an intergovernmental agreement, and therefore formally not a part of the EU institutional framework.
Several of these pacts and agreements overlap, but with an increasing degree of centralization and authoritarian top-down policy instruments, including the transfer of power from nation states to Brussels, and from the European Parliament to the Commission. At the same time, we see a more and more open division between some core countries, centered around Germany and France, and a periphery of weaker states, particularly in the east and south of Europe.

The most crisis-ridden countries, like Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, have more or less been put under the administration of bodies still further away from democratic legitimacy: the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission. The European employers’ association, the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE), and the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) exult over the new economic governance model for the European Union.

The ongoing de-democratisation of the economic politics, as well as the attacks on the trade-union movement undertaken in order to prepare the ground for the anti-social, austerity policies, represent developments that we have hardly seen since fascism was defeated in Europe. Four previous judgments (see below) of the European Court of Justice have all contributed to the restriction of trade-union rights in the European Union, including the legal right to take industrial action. Add to this that the political authorities in at least ten EU member states already have implemented pay cuts in the public sector by setting aside collective agreements without negotiating with the unions, and the gravity of the situation becomes clear. An increasingly authoritarian Europe is emerging.

The European Union as a Barrier

Can this development be stopped? Is it possible to save Social Europe from the ongoing massive attacks on welfare and workers’ rights? Is it possible to mobilize social forces across Europe which can curb the massive attacks of capitalist forces and their political servants, with the aim of shifting power relations, and eventually creating the basis for a social offensive?

To say something concrete about this, we will have to look more closely at the challenges and barriers facing trade unions in the social struggle. What is it that restrains them from moving in a strong and coordinated manner into the fight to at least defend the social achievements that were won through the welfare state? It is necessary then to look at some important external barriers, as well as at weaknesses, within the movement itself.

There is a growing realization that the European Union itself creates a number of impediments, not only for economic and social development in Europe, but also for the social struggle. We will consider six such barriers:

Democratic Deficit

The first barrier is the democratic deficit, which has been there from the very beginning but has increased in recent years. Officially, the message from the European Union and its member states’ governments, with the support of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and other parts of the European trade-union movement, is the opposite. They claim that the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 took an important step towards increasing democracy in that the elected European Parliament had its authority widened in a number of areas.

In the opposite direction, however, some member states were more or less put under administration of the European Central Bank and the European Commission, with support from the IMF, in the wake of the financial crisis. Furthermore, the Parliament has been sidelined in much of the process to develop the new pacts and institutions described above. Finally, the new authority granted to the Commission to impose economic sanctions on member states that do not follow the strict (and financially and politically damaging) stability criteria will transfer power from democratically elected parliaments at the national level to the non-elected Commission, and thus further de-democratize the decision-making process in Europe.

Constitutionalized Neoliberalism

Second, neoliberalism has been constitutionalized as the economic system of the European Union through the Treaty of Lisbon and former treaties. Capital’s freedom of movement and right of establishment are carved in stone, and all other considerations are subordinated to this principle, which we clearly have seen in the labor market (see below). Free competition is another basic principle in the EU treaties. In recent years this has also increasingly been applied to the services market, which differs from the commodity market in the way that trade in services mainly deals with the buying and selling of mobile labor power.

It has long been a common saying on the European political left that socialism is prohibited by the EU treaties. With the stability criteria, and the new sanction regime to force member states’ structural budget deficit below 0.5 percent and government debt below 60 percent of GDP, we can conclude that traditional Keynesianism, or what we may call traditional social-democratic economic policy of the post-war period, is not allowed. This represents a dramatic curtailment of democracy in the EU member states and represents a major step towards a more authoritarian, neoliberal European Union.

Irreversible Legislation

Third, the European Union decision-making process makes the above principles and decisions virtually irreversible. While all member states have some institutionalised protection for their own constitutions—for example by requiring qualified majority (either two-thirds or three-fourths) to change the constitution—in the European Union it has to be full agreement (e.g., 100 percent of the twenty-eight member states) to change it. This means the possibility of changing any of the EU treaties in a progressive direction through ordinary political processes is virtually nonexistent. One right-wing government in one member state can prevent this.

The Euro as an Economic Straitjacket

Fourth, the existence of the euro, currently in seventeen of the twenty-eight member states, puts many of the countries into an economic straitjacket. As long as the economy and productivity develop differently in member states in the Euro Zone, and there is no large common budget to reduce economic inequalities, countries will need quite different monetary policies. Today it is Germany, Europe’s “economic locomotive,” which benefits most from this, with its strategy of exporting its way out of the crisis; meanwhile the most crisis- and debt-ridden countries—such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus—are the losers. The latter have no domestic currency to devalue and thereby make their exports cheaper and imports more expensive. Those countries with higher domestic consumption and weaker competitiveness are forced to conduct a so-called internal devaluation, that is, to increase competitiveness through wage cuts and cuts in public expenditure. This is certainly in line with the EU neoliberal project, but it is devastating to the countries’ economic and social development. This economic straitjacket can also contribute to the development of contradictions between workers in countries in need of very different policies.

Lack of Simultaneousness in the Decision-Making and Implementation Processes

Fifth, the lack of simultaneousness in the decision-making process between the EU member states constitutes a barrier to developing cross-national mobilizations of trade union and social movements against many of the neoliberal and reactionary policies. Although much of the policy within the European Union is adopted by EU institutions, it is carried out in such a way that implementation is made at different times in different member states. The attacks and weakening of the pension systems, for instance, occurred over time and in different forms from country to country, based on recommendations from the European Union, but not through direct legislation. This makes it impossible to create a single European mobilization against these attacks.

The same applies to much of the European Union’s privatization policy. The European Union seldom makes decisions on direct privatization; it decides to liberalize, or to apply its competition rules to ever more areas of society. One of the effects is privatization, as we have seen in energy, transport, and telecommunications. Further, the implementation of these policies takes place at different times and ways in different states, thus making it difficult to mobilize coordinated resistance across Europe.

The very special legislation process constitutes further problems. Directives are not applied in the member states directly; rather, the content of the directives has to be transposed into the laws of each member state. As if this is not enough, EU legislation is written in an almost impenetrable bureaucratic language. This reality is often exploited by national governments and politicians, who play down the effects of various legal proposals, which later turn out to have widespread negative effects.

The Extended Role of the European Court of Justice

Sixth, the European Court of Justice has recently taken on a more extensive role in reinterpreting and effectively expanding the scope of some EU treaties and legislation, particularly regarding trade in services, that is, trade in mobile labor power. In this context, it is important to understand the application of the four judgments that were made between December 2007 and the summer 2008—the Viking, Laval, Rüffert, and Luxemburg cases—all of which contributed to limiting trade-union rights, including the right to strike.

Before these judgments, the dominant view was that labor laws and regulations lay outside the EU domain. They belonged to the jurisdiction of the nation states. Through the four judgments, the opposite has clearly been established: labor market regulations are subordinate to EU competition law and to capital’s free movement and right of establishment. The judgments have also had the effect of transforming the so-called Posting of Workers Directive from a minimum to a maximum directive regarding the wages and working conditions that will apply to workers in companies established in one member state while they carry out work in another.

This directive prescribes that wages and working conditions of the host country should apply. However, according to the above mentioned judgments, this has now changed to include only some of the minimum conditions regarding wages and working conditions, thus contributing to social dumping in Western Europe—undermining both wage levels and labor protection laws which have been achieved through trade union struggle over many decades. This has first and foremost been the case in the construction industry as well as in service sectors such as hotels, restaurants, and transport.

The enormous wage gap between countries in a now single European labor market is what really spurs this development—to a considerable degree protected by EU legislation. ILO Convention 94, which intends to secure wages and working conditions in similar cases, was simply ignored by the European Court of Justice. Add to this the high level of unemployment and the extreme exploitation that many individual workers from Eastern Europe are exposed to in Western Europe, both legally and illegally, and we can easily understand how trade unions are being weakened and social regression has become the order of the day in ever more European countries.

The European Union Is Threatening the Unity of Europe

Taken all together, we now see an extremely dramatic and serious situation in Europe. While the establishment of the European Union’s predecessors, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, were based partly on the desire for peace in Europe in the wake of the two world wars, the EU project of the European elites today is bringing about a formidable economic, social, and political polarization. The so-called European Social Model is breaking down. We are thus faced with the paradoxical situation that the “peace project EU” is currently the greatest threat to Europe’s unity, not on a national, but on a social, basis. However, we cannot ignore the possibility that, in certain situations, the result will be rising national antagonisms. Given the history of Europe, the European economic and political elites are playing with fire.

With all the barriers summarized above, it is also an open question whether or not it is realistic to believe that the European Union as a whole can be changed from within through a broad pan-European mobilization. Maybe it will be necessary for individual countries to leave not only the euro but the European Union itself in order to save their economies and their people’s welfare. If so, it will be essential that trade unions and popular forces massively mobilize for a Europe based on democracy, unity, solidarity, and cohesion, and thereby counteract the possibility of total European disintegration.

Internal Political-Ideological Barriers

Although the European Union presents important external barriers to the social struggle, there are also internal barriers that prevent trade unions from fulfilling their historic tasks. This is not just on the political-ideological level, but also concerns the traditions and organizational structures that are no longer as effective in meeting the new challenges under the global neoliberal offensive: the international restructuring of production, the increase in precarious work and migration, and the deregulation of labor markets.

On the political-ideological level, the situation is strongly affected by the crisis on the left, including the fact that social partnership and social dialogue have largely been developed into an overall ideology in dominant parts of the labor movement at both the European and national level. This means that social dialogue has been given an exalted position as the way to promote workers’ interests, completely decoupled from an analysis of specific power relations and how they can promote or prevent the possibilities of workers gaining ground. Thus, the social-partnership ideology is also to a high degree unlinked from the recognition that social progress in the current situation can only be achieved through extensive social mobilization.

The criticism of social dialogue and the social-partnership ideology is, of course, not a criticism of unions discussing and negotiating with employers. These things they have always done, and they must continue. The criticism concerns the fact that social dialogue, always one of many tools in the labor movement’s toolbox, has been turned into the main strategy. And, in effect, labor has taken very specific historical experiences and behaved as if these were true for all time in terms of ideological guidance. When social dialogue produced results in many countries, especially in the first decades after the Second World War, it was precisely because of the power shift that had taken place in favor of the working class and the trade-union movement in the period before.

The class compromise and social dialogue were, in other words, the results of mobilization, harsh confrontations, and considerable shifts in the balance of power. However, in the current ideological version labor leaders portray them as the causes of increasing influence for workers and trade unions. This analytical mismatch creates ideological confusion in the trade-union movement, as, for example, in this statement of the ETUC: “The EU is built on the principle of social partnership; a compromise between different interests in society—to the benefit of all” (emphasis added).6

In face of the massive attacks that employers and governments are now waging against unions and social rights, such ideological claims are being put under increasing pressure. There is little doubt that the capitalist forces in Europe have withdrawn from the historic compromise with the working class, as they are now attacking agreements and institutions that they previously accepted in the name of the compromise. Nevertheless, the social partnership ideology is still deeply rooted in wide circles of the European trade-union movement, as the following remarks by (the now-retired) ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, so well illustrate. The starting point was a reference to some tendencies of the U.S. labor movement, where activists were campaigning for wider social goals:

There may be similar opportunities in Europe, says Mr Monks, if unions can move beyond their old-fashioned enthusiasm for street protests to campaign for policy changes that broadly benefit workers. “Given the tough labor market, and desperate employers, this is not a time for huge militancy,” he says. Instead, “it is a time to demand frameworks of welfare benefits, training, consultation and to put in place fairer pay systems, so that when the economy does recover there is no repeat of the surge in inequality that took place in the past decade.”7

Remarkably, Monks’s comments were made long after the financial crisis had led to an intensified level of conflict in several European countries. How Monks thought to achieve better social benefits and fairer pay systems without the need for old-fashioned street protests, militancy, and the like, is not clearly evident from the interview. Maybe he meant that this could be achieved by offering additional concessions to employers? In any case, the ETUC went so far, even for them, as to sign an extraordinarily weak joint statement with the various employers’ organisations in Europe in connection with the preparation of the EU 2020 strategy. This happened in the summer of 2010, after the Greek unions had carried out several general strikes, as the Spanish unions prepared their general strike, and while the preparations of the French unions for their fight against a pension reform were in full swing. The statement called for:

An optimal balance between flexibility and security…. Flexicurity policies must be accompanied by sound macroeconomic policies, favourable business environment, adequate financial resources and the provision of good working conditions. In particular, wage policies, autonomously set by social partners, should ensure that real wage developments are consistent with productivity trends, while non-wage labor costs are restrained where appropriate in order to support labor demand…. [Regarding public services,] accessibility, quality, efficiency and effectiveness must be enhanced, including by taking greater benefit from well balanced public-private partnerships and by modernising public administration systems.8

To demand that non-wage labor costs are restrained and to legitimize privatization through public-private partnerships in this way—in a situation characterized by crisis, increased class confrontations, and massive assaults on public services—confirms that submission to social dialogue as a main strategy in the current situation can have nothing but demoralizing effects on those who want to fight against social regression.

Another internal barrier for many trade unions is their attachment to the traditional labor parties. The move by these parties to the right, as well as the general political and ideological crisis of the left described above, also affect the trade unions. They have reacted differently to these developments, however. In many countries (like Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom), the loyalty between the national trade union confederations and the social democratic parties is still solid, while in others it is weaker.

Alone among the Nordic nations, the Danish Trade Union Confederation has declared itself formally independent of the Social Democratic party, but without adopting more radical positions. In the United Kingdom, some unions, like the British National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, have broken with social democracy and established themselves in a clearly more leftist and militant position. In Germany, the Schröder (so-called red-green) government (1998–2005) carried out comprehensive attacks on the social-welfare system, and this has led to a deep breach of trust between the Confederation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, the DGB) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). While the party was in opposition it tried to approach the trade-union movement again, which is not an unusual strategy, but it received a rather cool reception from the DGB’s leader, Michael Sommer: “The problem for the SPD is unfortunately that they suffer from a lack of credibility. They were in power until September last year and were involved in many of the decisions we feel are wrong. They still have a long way to go before they have restored confidence.”9

The most extreme experiences with social democratic parties in government, however, have been in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Considering how those parties so easily could implement their massive attacks on the welfare state and the trade-union movement, it might be time for broader sections of the labor movement to reconsider their strong ties to social democracy. At least, it is difficult to imagine that the close relationship between the trade-union movement and social democracy can be the same in Europe after these experiences, despite having lived down many deep conflicts in the past.

Increased Resistance

Widespread deregulation, the free movement of capital, and the crucial role played by global and regional institutions in the neoliberal offensive necessitate a global perspective and coordination of resistance across borders. Only in this way can we prevent workers in one country from being played against those in another, groups against groups, and welfare levels against welfare levels. Coordination of resistance across borders, however, requires strong and active movements at the local and national level. There is no abstract global fight against crisis and neoliberalism. Social struggles are internationalized only when local and national movements realize the need for coordination across borders in order to strengthen the fight against international and well-coordinated counter-forces. But international coordination presupposes that there is something to coordinate. In other words, organizing resistance and building the necessary alliances locally are decisive as a first step.

The social struggle in Europe is in the process of moving into a new phase. The crisis sharpens the contradictions and provokes confrontations. General strikes have again been put on the agenda in many countries, especially in Greece, where the population has been subjected to draconian attacks that threaten their basic living conditions. In Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom, general strikes and/or massive demonstrations have been carried out. The most promising development so far was the general strike that was carried out simultaneously by trade unions in six EU countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta) on November 14, 2011, while unions in other countries also held demonstrations or more limited strikes.

Although so far the outcome of these battles is pretty vague, it is in these struggles that we find hope for another development: alliances with other new and unconventional social movements, especially among young people, as we have seen with Spain’s Los Indignados and in Portugal. One thing has at least become clear: the European social model, as we know it from its heyday, has been abandoned by the European elites, even if some of them are still paying lip service to the trade-union movement.

Even if there are many barriers to a Europeanization of the social struggle, there have been some examples of all-European campaigns organized by trade unions and social movements across national borders. One example was the fight against the EU Port Directive, which was voted down in the European Parliament in 2003 and in 2006, after pressure from below in strikes and demonstrations. Another was the struggle against the Services Directive, which, while not rejected, was modified as a result. The fight against the EU Constitution (later the Lisbon Treaty) also faced a certain Europe-wide resistance, although mobilization was largely based where it ultimately prevailed, first in France and the Netherlands, and later in Ireland.

The dramatic attacks on trade unions and welfare now taking place actually contribute to strengthening the voice of a number of European trade union leaders. The Deputy General Secretary of the European Public Services Unions, Willem Goudriaan states that the Euro Plus Pact represents “an interference in collective bargaining which we have never before seen in the EU.” Even the cautious ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, who in 2009 said that all had “become social democrats or socialists now,” changed his tune shortly before his retirement in 2011 and characterized the Euro Plus Pact in this way: “EU is on a collision course with Social Europe…. This is not a pact for competitiveness. It is a perverse pact for lower living standards, more inequality and more precarious work.”10

That in 2011 the ETUC, which has always been very European Union-friendly, for the first time in the history of the European Union urged the European Parliament to reject a proposed treaty change, is a further indication that a change is underway. This could contribute to a questioning of the legitimacy of the European Union among European workers. The actual treaty amendment concerned the setting up of the European Union’s emergency fund (European Stability Mechanism), whose task is to lend money to member countries in crisis. There was no such mechanism in place when the Greek crisis unfolded, and instead the European Union improvised. The ETUC rejected the proposal because this pact contained nothing in the direction of what might be called a Social Europe, which is becoming an increasingly distant goal.

With continued draconian austerity policies and deeper economic, social, and political crises, there is a possibility of growing contradictions within social democracy, as well as within the trade-union movement in Europe. We perhaps got a taste of this during the ETUC Congress in Athens in May 2011, when the most militant sections of the trade-union movement demonstrated in front of the Congress building, accusing the ETUC of betraying the fight and asking them to go home.

On the political-rhetorical level, there is an ongoing radicalization of the messages from the European trade unions in response to the economic crisis, backed up with some symbolic demonstrations, organized by the ETUC in Brussels on September 29, 2010, in Budapest on April 9, 2011, and in Wroclaw on September 19, 2011. Much remains to be done, however, before this is followed by a more committed and widespread social mobilization, where trade unions put to use their most effective methods of struggle to enforce their claims.

This lack of trade union action is not, of course, only the responsibility of individuals in the leadership of the international trade union organizations. The ETUC board consists of representatives from a number of national trade unions, and the decisions have broad support among them.11 The new situation is a result of enormous shifts in the balance of power in society, the crisis, and intensified class contradictions that have removed the basis for a continuation of the policy of the social pact in the post-Second World War period. The capitalists have changed strategy, but the trade-union movement has not. To acknowledge this and take into account the consequences of it is one of the main challenges of the trade-union movement today.

What Has to be Done?

The political shift towards the right and the political-ideological crisis on the left mean that the trade-union movement itself has to play a more central, independent, and more offensive political role—political not in the party sense, but in the sense that it assumes a broader political perspective in the social struggle. The greater part of the trade-union movement is not prepared to take on such a role today, but it holds the potential. A development in this direction requires that the trade-union movement go through a process of change, not least because of the new conditions for struggle created by global restructuring, neoliberalism, and crisis. In the medium term a reorganization of the political left will also have to be put on the agenda.

If social progress and democratization are our goals, the ongoing economic and social crises have opened the door wide. As the crisis unfolds, the need for a new and radical political course is actually growing day by day. It assumes, however, that trade unions are able to recreate themselves politically and organizationally. The immediate task is to meet the confrontational attacks from capitalists and their political servants, to wage the defensive fight against the massive attacks on wages, pensions, and public services. In the long term, however, this will not be enough, as the Scottish Socialist Murray Smith so rightly points out:

In whatever scenario there is a structural weakness of the workers’ movement, which gives the advantage to the government and the ruling class. The weakness is political and lies in the absence of a credible, visible political alternative to neo-liberalism. Such a political alternative is not a pre-condition for resisting attacks in the short term, perhaps even winning battles. But at a certain point the absence of a coherent alternative has a demobilizing effect. This problem predates the present crisis, but the crisis has made it a much more urgent question. What is necessary is the perspective of a governmental alternative incarnated by political forces that have a credible possibility of winning the support of the majority of the population, not necessarily immediately, but as a perspective. Such a political programme would involve organizing the production of goods and services to meet the needs of the population, democratically decided. That means breaking the stranglehold of finance on the economy, creating a publicly owned financial sector, re-nationalizing public services, a progressive taxation system, measures that challenge property rights.12

The vision of an alternative development of society is important, then, to provide inspiration and direction for the ongoing struggle against the crisis and social regression. It is uncertain, however, that a lack of alternatives is the main problem. There are a great many elements for an alternative developmental model. The alternative to privatization is not to privatize. The alternative to increased competition is more collaboration. The alternative to bureaucracy and control from above is democratization and participation from below. Alternatives to increasing inequalities and poverty are redistribution, progressive taxation, and free, universal welfare benefits. The alternative to the destructive speculation economy is socialization of the bank and credit institutions, the introduction of capital controls, and the prohibition of dealing with suspect financial instruments. The list can be made much longer than this.

Rather than a lack of alternatives, it may also be a question of the ability and will to carry out the mobilization and make use of the resources that are necessary to enforce them. Here, it is important for there to be a political showdown with the ideological legacy of the social pact—that deep-rooted social partnership ideology and belief in social dialogue as the best way of resolving social problems for the benefit of all, as the expression goes.

The working class, the trade unions, and other popular forces are now facing a brutal power struggle, which was started from above. The constant tendencies to canalize the response of the unions to these attacks into the political power vacuum that the social dialogue at present represents at a European level, does little else than weaken the capacity of the unions to mobilize. From this angle, there is much to suggest that it is the ability, rather than the possibility, that is the most important challenge the trade unions now face. The time has come, in other words, to stake out a new course for the trade-unions’ struggle, as was suggested by the Basque trade union organizations on January 27, 2011, when they carried out their second general strike in less than one year:

We have come out to the streets, have gone on strike twice and will continue mobilising. Because we do not want the future of poverty they have prepared for us. They threatened us by saying after the crisis nothing would be the same again. So making things different is in our hands. It is necessary to continue fighting for a real change, for a different economic and social model in which [the] economy works in favour of the society.13

We have seen before that social struggles develop new leadership and new organizations. Although right-wing populists and authoritarian tendencies predominate in the European Union today, the anti-social policies of the elites can also provoke social explosions, especially in southern Europe. It can open the possibility for other developments, where the goals are more fundamental changes of power and property relations and a deepening democratization of the society. The battle is between a more authoritarian and a more democratic Europe. For the time being, the authoritarian tendencies have the upper hand, but power relations can change again.

Notes

↩John Vinocur, “On the New European Economic Road Map, There’s Not Much Left of the Left,” New York Times, November 24, 1998, http://nytimes.com.
↩“NEWSWEEK Cover: We Are All Socialists Now,” February 8, 2009, http://prnewswire.com. The cover appeared on the February 16, 2009 Newsweek.
↩“In From the Cold?,” Economist, March 12, 2009, http://economist.com.
↩For a more comprehensive discussion of this phenomenon, see Asbjørn Wahl, “To Be in Office, But Not in Power: Left Parties in the Squeeze Between People’s Expectations and an Unfavourable Balance of Power,” in Birgit Daiber, ed., The Left in Government: Latin-America and Europe Compared (Brussels: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2010).
↩Michael Hudson, “A Financial Coup d’Etat,” Counterpunch, October 1–3, 2010, http://counterpunch.org.
↩“ETUC: The European Social Model,” http://etuc.org.
↩“In From the Cold?“
↩European Social Partners, “Joint Statement on the EU 2020 Strategy,” June 3, 2010, http://etuc.org.
↩Quoted in Terje I. Olsson, “Mer lønn og forbruk skal løse krisa” [Higher Wages and Consumption Are Going to Solve the Crisis], Fri Fagbevegelse, October 8, 2010. Originally http://frifagbevegelse.no; available via http://archive.org/.
↩ETUC press release, “EU on a ‘Collision Course’ with Social Europe and the Autonomy of Collective Bargaining,” February 4, 2011, http://etuc.org.
↩There are also those who argue for more offensive positions, as, for example, the General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), Eduardo Chagas, has been taking inside the ETUC board over the last few years. Lately, some of the south European trade unions also have pushed for an all-European general strike. It is worth noticing that the Nordic trade-union confederations have brought up the rear in these discussions.
↩Murray Smith, “Den europæiske arbejderbevægelse under angreb!” [The European Labor Movement Under Attack!], Kritisk Debat, no. 56, June, 2010, http:// kritiskdebat.dk. [my translation]
↩Joint leaflet from the Basque trade unions ELA, LAB, STEE/EILAS, EHNE and HIRU, which carried out a one-day general strike against pension cuts and attacks on the welfare state. See http://labournet.de.

Creating a Euro police state?

Friday, 3rd October 2008
http://www.ukip.org/content/european-issues/790-creating-a-euro-police-state

Creating a Euro police state?

The case of Holocaust denier Frederick Toben is a dangerous new use of the European Arrest Warrant, writes Gerard Batten MEP

Voltaire famously said, "I disagree with what you have to say but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it." While agreeing with the sentiment, few of us would want to take the outcome to that extreme, but most reasonable people would concede that the right to free speech involves tolerating views that we don’t agree with. Unfortunately that tolerance is usually put to the test by someone with the most repugnant views. 

Just such a dilemma has just arisen in the form of Dr Frederick Toben and his arrest at Heathrow airport near London on 1 October. Dr Toben is not someone we can warm to. He is a holocaust denier. He runs a website that contends that the Nazis did not murder millions of Jews. Dr Toben is an Australian citizen who was convicted of charges under Holocaust law in Germany in 1999, and he also reportedly faces jail in Australia for breaching a Federal Court order in 2002 to remove material that it found "vilified Jewish people".  

Dr Toben was arrested at Heathrow airport under a European Arrest Warrant issued by Germany and executed by the British police. Dr Toben is an Australian citizen who was in transit between the USA and Dubai. Although he allegedly jumped bail in Germany in 1999 the EAW was not issued in relation to this matter but for allegedly "publishing anti-Semitic and/or revisionist material between 2000 and 2004" on the Internet. If extradited to Germany he faces five years in prison. 

Dr Toben’s views are totally repugnant to reasonable people. If he is guilty of inciting violence or criminal activity then let him face trial after the appropriate legal procedures. But Dr Toben’s case illustrates the dangers of the European Arrest Warrant and reveals some new and yet more dangerous developments.

The legislation that established the EAW does not state that it is applicable to non-EU nationals, even when travelling through EU member states where they are not wanted for a crime, and where their alleged crime in another state is not recognised as such. It is not clear at this stage if Dr Toben holds dual citizenship with an EU country, in which case under what law has he been arrested in Britain, and why didn’t the German authorities seek to extradite him from Australia?

Most dangerously of all, his arrest seems to establish what I have been warning about for years: that statements made on the Internet could result in the issuing of an EAW in a member state where it is a crime, and the arrest and extradition of a citizen from another state where the statements were made and where it is not a crime. If this involves information published on the Internet then it strikes at the fundamentals of free speech within nation states.

And I am not making a case for unfettered free speech. Incitement to terrorism, violence or criminal activity, or publishing child pornography, are illegal in most countries of the world and can be dealt with under existing national law. Holocaust denial might be compared to hard-core adult pornography, which is available on the internet and is not illegal. People can choose to look at it or not. It is understandable that Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, since Germans were responsible for it in first place, and if it is denied in-country they quite reasonably have laws against it.

The European Arrest Warrant already allows for EU citizens to be extradited from one state to another without their own state having any right whatsoever to consider the evidence against them and satisfy itself that there is a proper case to answer. Member states have absolutely minimal powers to protect their own citizens against injustice, even when they know such injustice is about to visited on one of their citizens by another member state.  

We cannot protect our citizens against EU countries that are institutionally corrupt, such as Romania and Bulgaria, and others with extremely dubious legal and judicial systems. British citizens are completely at their tender mercies and this is about to be made worse by new laws coming into force later this year regarding trials in absentia. Under these laws, EU member states will be able to try, convict and sentence any other EU citizen and then require their extradition, or the collection of fines or confiscation orders, by their home state.

We are sleepwalking towards an EU police state. No one has sympathy for genuine terrorists, criminals, or people who hold repellent views such as Dr Toben, but this is not the point. The point is that protection under the law exists not just to protect the rights of criminals but to protect the rights of the law-abiding and innocent. Those protections are being systematically dismantled. If we don’t take notice when it happens to the likes of Dr Toben, it will be too late thereafter. 

The European Union Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant states that it does not prevent a Member State from "applying its constitutional rules relating to…freedom of the press and freedom of expression in other media". The British authorities should reject the application to extradite Dr Toben to Germany and then boot him straight back to Australia.

Muslim chief slams ‘police state’ Britain, compares to Nazi Germany

Muslim chief slams ‘police state’ Britain, compares to Nazi Germany

AFP, February 2, 2005

A Muslim leader has warned that Britain is moving towards a “police state,” comparing the situation to Nazi Germany after the anti-terror raids in the city of Birmingham this week.

But Mohammad Naseem, chairman of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, urged Muslims to show restraint following the raids, in which nine suspects were arrested over allegations of plotting an “Iraq-style” kidnapping and filmed beheading.

“The country is moving toward a police state. That’s not right. We have to change this,” he said inside the mosque, where some 2,000 Muslims gathered for weekly Friday prayers.

“We can change this for the better by coming together, not by coming apart. .. Remain calm, don’t get angry. Anger is a natural emotion, but Muslims should control it. We must never give way to anger,” he said.

Speaking outside the mosque shortly before the prayer session began, he compared the current situation, and anti-terrorism legislation introduced in Britain in recent years, to Nazi Germany.

“The German people were told the Jews were a threat. The same thing is happening here. The Muslims are now the bogey people,” he said. “It’s a small community. It’s easy to pick on them. That’s what’s being done.”

Tempers are high after the raids, which were accompanied by allegations that the suspects were planning to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier, and post a video of the execution on the Internet.

Police were on Thursday given more time to question the nine suspects, all of them said by neighbours to be Britons of Pakistani origin, and mostly family men with children.

 

Secret pact allows the US to spy on UK motorists

http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/04/21/quiet-pact-allows-spy-uk

Secret pact allows the US to spy on UK motorists

Big Buddy is watching y'all

By Egan Orion:
The Inquirer, Monday, 21 April 2008, 4:16 PM

THE UK Home Secretary secretively signed a "special certificate" last year that gives foreign security agencies real-time access to traffic camera images and related data monitoring British motorists on highways throughout the UK.

Opposition politicians and civil liberties advocates yesterday accused Gordon Brown's government of attempting to hide from Parliament its covert plans to facilitate international surveillance of UK citizens in violation of privacy laws.

Under the authorisation signed last July 4 by Jacqui Smith, video feeds and still images captured from roadside TV cameras, along with personal data derived from them, can be transmitted out of the UK to countries such as the US, that are outside the European Economic Area.

Home Secretary Smith failed to mention the exception in a statement she made to Parliament less than two weeks later on July 17, 2007 outlining Metropolitan Police exemptions to the 1998 Data Protection Act.

The dispensation gives British police "anti-terrorism" officers the permission to transmit images and information overseas, based upon any representation that the materials are relevant to a "terrorism" threat either in the UK or elsewhere.

Liberal Democratic leader Nick Clegg said last night, "This confirms that this Government is happy to hand over potentially huge amounts of information on British citizens under the catch-all pretext of 'national security'."

UK civil liberties groups are appalled that the UK government is monitoring the daily movements of British citizens on a wholesale basis, even more so that it's willing to provide surveillance images and data to foreign intelligence agencies.

Opponents of what they view as a nascent surveillance state fear the imposition of a "data mining" programme to filter and correlate billions of pieces of data to profile individuals, activities and relationships in ways that might be abused, such as to target minorities and political groups and suppress peaceful dissent.

A Home Office spokesman defended powers granted by the "special certificate" on the grounds of "counter terrorism" and national security, as they always do, of course. Speaking anonymously, he said "We would like to reassure the public that robust controls have been put in place to control and safeguard access to, and use of, the information."

In other words, "Trust us."

MI5 seeks powers to trawl records in new terror hunt

MI5 seeks powers to trawl records in new terror hunt

Counter-terrorism experts call it a 'force multiplier': an attack combining slaughter and electronic chaos. Now Britain's security services want total access to commuters' travel records to help them meet the threat

This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday March 16 2008 on p22 of the News section. It was last updated at 01:49 on March 16 2008.

Millions of commuters could have their private movements around cities secretly monitored under new counter-terrorism powers being sought by the security services.

Records of journeys made by people using smart cards that allow 17 million Britons to travel by underground, bus and train with a single swipe at the ticket barrier are among a welter of private information held by the state to which MI5 and police counter-terrorism officers want access in order to help identify patterns of suspicious behaviour.

The request by the security services, described by shadow Home Secretary David Davis last night as 'extraordinary', forms part of a fierce Whitehall debate over how much access the state should have to people's private lives in its efforts to combat terrorism.

It comes as the Cabinet Office finalises Gordon Brown's new national security strategy, expected to identify a string of new threats to Britain – ranging from future 'water wars' between countries left drought-ridden by climate change to cyber-attacks using computer hacking technology to disrupt vital elements of national infrastructure.

The fear of cyber-warfare has climbed Whitehall's agenda since last year's attack on the Baltic nation of Estonia, in which Russian hackers swamped state servers with millions of electronic messages until they collapsed. The Estonian defence and foreign ministries and major banks were paralysed, while even its emergency services call system was temporarily knocked out: the attack was seen as a warning that battles once fought by invading armies or aerial bombardment could soon be replaced by virtual, but equally deadly, wars in cyberspace.

While such new threats may grab headlines, the critical question for the new security agenda is how far Britain is prepared to go in tackling them. What are the limits of what we want our security services to know? And could they do more to identify suspects before they strike?

One solution being debated in Whitehall is an unprecedented unlocking of data held by public bodies, such as the Oyster card records maintained by Transport for London and smart cards soon to be introduced in other cities in the UK, for use in the war against terror. The Office of the Information Commissioner, the watchdog governing data privacy, confirmed last night that it had discussed the issue with government but declined to give details, citing issues of national security.

Currently the security services can demand the Oyster records of specific individuals under investigation to establish where they have been, but cannot trawl the whole database. But supporters of calls for more sharing of data argue that apparently trivial snippets – like the journeys an individual makes around the capital – could become important pieces of the jigsaw when fitted into a pattern of other publicly held information on an individual's movements, habits, education and other personal details. That could lead, they argue, to the unmasking of otherwise undetected suspects.

Critics, however, fear a shift towards US-style 'data mining', a controversial technique using powerful computers to sift and scan millions of pieces of data, seeking patterns of behaviour which match the known profiles of terrorist suspects. They argue that it is unfair for millions of innocent people to have their privacy invaded on the off-chance of finding a handful of bad apples.

'It's looking for a needle in a haystack, and we all make up the haystack,' said former Labour minister Michael Meacher, who has a close interest in data sharing. 'Whether all our details have to be reviewed because there is one needle among us – I don't think the case is made.'

Jago Russell, policy officer at the campaign group Liberty, said technological advances had made 'mass computerised fishing expeditions' easier to undertake, but they offered no easy answers. 'The problem is what do you do once you identify somebody who has a profile that suggests suspicions,' he said. 'Once the security services have identified somebody who fits a pattern, it creates an inevitable pressure to impose restrictions.'

Individuals wrongly identified as suspicious might lose high-security jobs, or have their immigration status brought into doubt, he said. Ministers are also understood to share concerns over civil liberties, following public opposition to ID cards, and the debate is so sensitive that it may not even form part of Brown's published strategy.

But if there is no consensus yet on the defence, there is an emerging agreement on the mode of attack. The security strategy will argue that in the coming decades Britain faces threats of a new and different order. And its critics argue the government is far from ready.

The cyber-assault on Estonia confirmed that the West now faces a relatively cheap, low-risk means of warfare that can be conducted from anywhere in the world, with the power to plunge developed nations temporarily into the stone age, disabling everything from payroll systems that ensure millions of employees get paid to the sewage treatment processes that make our water safe to drink or the air traffic control systems keeping planes stacked safely above Heathrow.

And it is one of the few weapons which is most effective against more sophisticated western societies, precisely because of their reliance on computers. 'As we become more advanced, we become more vulnerable,' says Alex Neill, head of the Asia Security programme at the defence think-tank RUSI, who is an expert on cyber-attack.

The nightmare scenario now emerging is its use by terrorists as a so-called 'force multiplier' – combining a cyber-attack to paralyse the emergency services with a simultaneous atrocity such as the London Tube bombings.

Victims would literally have nowhere to turn for help, raising the death toll and sowing immeasurable panic. 'Instead of using three or four aircraft as in 9/11, you could do one major event and then screw up the communications network behind the emergency services, or attack the Underground control network so you have one bomb but you lock up the whole network,' says Davis. 'You take the ramifications of the attack further. The other thing to bear in mind is that we are ultimately vulnerable because London is a financial centre.'

In other words, cyber-warfare does not have to kill to bring a state to its knees: hackers could, for example, wipe electronic records detailing our bank accounts, turning millionaires into apparent paupers overnight.

So how easy would it be? Estonia suffered a relatively crude form of attack known as 'denial of service', while paralysing a secure British server would be likely to require more sophisticated 'spy' software which embeds itself quietly in a computer network and scans for secret passwords or useful information – activating itself later to wreak havoc.

Neill said that would require specialist knowledge to target the weakest link in any system: its human user. 'You will get an email, say, that looks like it's from a trusted colleague, but in fact that email has been cloned. There will be an attachment that looks relevant to your work: it's an interesting document, but embedded in it invisibly is "malware" rogue software which implants itself in the operating systems. From that point, the computer is compromised and can be used as a platform to exploit other networks.'

Only governments and highly sophisticated criminal organisations have such a capability now, he argues, but there are strong signs that al-Qaeda is acquiring it: 'It is a hallmark of al-Qaeda anyway that they do simultaneous bombings to try to herd victims into another area of attack.'

The West, of course, may not simply be the victim of cyber-wars: the United States is widely believed to be developing an attack capability, with suspicions that Baghdad's infrastructure was electronically disrupted during the 2003 invasion.

So given its ability to cause as much damage as a traditional bomb, should cyber-attack be treated as an act of war? And what rights under international law does a country have to respond, with military force if necessary? Next month Nato will tackle such questions in a strategy detailing how it would handle a cyber-attack on an alliance member. Suleyman Anil, Nato's leading expert on cyber-attack, hinted at its contents when he told an e-security conference in London last week that cyber-attacks should be taken as seriously as a missile strike – and warned that a determined attack on western infrastructure would be 'practically impossible to stop'.

Tensions are likely to increase in a globalised economy, where no country can afford to shut its borders to foreign labour – an issue graphically highlighted for Gordon Brown weeks into his premiership by the alleged terrorist attack on Glasgow airport, when it emerged that the suspects included overseas doctors who entered Britain to work in the NHS.

A review led by Homeland Security Minister Admiral Sir Alan West into issues raised by the Glasgow attack has been grappling with one key question: could more be done to identify rogue elements who are apparently well integrated with their local communities?

Which is where, some within the intelligence community insist, access to personal data already held by public bodies – from the Oyster register to public sector employment records – could come in. The debate is not over yet.


Police State Europe

Police State Europe

William Shannon
Fri, 05 Oct 2001 16:14:22 -0700

http://www.spectator.co.uk/article.php3?table=old&section=current&issue=2001-10-06&id=1157

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reveals that the EU is using the war on terrorism to threaten our freedom

Let us be thankful, briefly, that the current director of Europol is a stout defender of civil liberties and furthermore a German, among the most reliable defenders of open democracy in the European Union these days. Dr Jurgen Storbeck was already sitting on top of an embryonic FBI before the destruction of the World Trade Center: now he is to bestride an embryonic CIA as well. The two are to be housed together under one roof at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. He will soon be one of the few men outside Pyongyang, Baghdad and a handful of other despotisms heading an agency with double access to law enforcement and intelligence secrets ? something that every first-term student of political science is taught should never happen in a democracy.

Before the terrorist attacks, Europol was not allowed to have direct dealings with MI5, MI6, the Bundesnachtrichtendienst, or any other intelligence services of the EU member states. It had to rely on contacts with police, customs and immigration services. But in a single throwaway line at their emergency summit in Brussels, EU leaders ordered all EU spy agencies to hand over “any relevant information on terrorism? to Europol. They also approved the creation of an anti-terrorism unit staffed by intelligence officials to be based at the agencx’s headquarters. The seed is planted.

Of course, MI5 and MI6 already share secrets on a selective basis with the Dutch, or whoever, but this is a radically different exercise. The information will now go to the EU machinery and will be stored in the computer banks at Europol, where one can only hope that secrets will be safe. The Dutch police arrested a French police captain earlier this summer for operating a scam out of the same computer offices, and another official is still under investigation. If that were not enough, a Munich computer company has accused Europol operatives of stealing its software and pocketing the commissions.

When I asked David Blunkett about intelligence sharing with the sort of people who might be tempted to sell secrets to al-Qa’eda for the right price “not a ludicrous concern, since an EU official was caught three years ago selling confidential data from the Schengen Information System to organised crime “he said sternly that Europol jolly well ought to clean up the problem. By way of reassurance he added that no raw data from GCHQ would be given to ne’er-do-wells. Only those with a top security clearance, and on a strict need-to-know basis, would get a look at our crown jewels.

With a staff of 300, Europol is still a puny creature compared with the $30 billion apparatus of US federal intelligence, but the taboo has been broken. For the first time, the EU has acquired an intelligence function. I expect that it will now mimic the exponential growth of Europol’s police role, which has mushroomed from a tiny clearing house for data on drug trafficking five years ago, to a proto-FBI today with powers to “request? “i.e. launch “criminal probes, and to take part in joint operations with national police. Its jurisdiction was quietly expanded last year to cover “all crimes involving money-laundering”. This is the open-door clause. It can be made to mean any crime where money changes hands. I predict that it will soon become the EU equivalent of the federal wire fraud clause in the United States, which gives the FBI primary jurisdiction whenever the US federal mail is used at any stage of a crime. So if the criminal sends a single letter, the Feds can muscle in.

Neither part of this twin-headed Europol is subject to the oversight of an elected parliament. In Washington, the directors of the FBI and CIA are ritually toasted in cross-examination by the senate and house committees. But in the EU?s half-way system between intergovernmentalism and federalism “a paradise for unaccountable elites “Dr Storbeck answers only to a management board, in secret. These are essentially the same people who appoint him, so their is no democratic control on the executive. The European Parliament complains bitterly that it cannot even get a look at Europol’s books.

The hectic pace kept up last week. Mr Blunkett was at it again, this time approving the establishment of Eurojust, an EU body of national prosecutors with the job of co-ordinating probes into organised crime, environmental crimes, xenophobia, and above all terrorism. The legal basis for proceeding this far is a little dodgy, since it derives from Article 31 of the Nice Treaty, which the Irish have refused to ratify, and may never ratify. So EU lawyers are stretching the Amsterdam Treaty to do the job instead. A future justice ministry, a replica of the US Justice Department, will acquire power over time to prosecute cases in EU federal courts.

The foundations of an EU federal judiciary and an EU police and security system are now largely in place. What makes this doubly potent is the parallel urge to give greater repressive powers to the emerging apparatus, an urge that reached an uncontrolled spasm after the deadly attacks in America. It has been going on for two years or so, and while it would be going too far to describe Jack Straw as the Godfather of this European police state, the British have certainly been eager sponsors. This may seem illogical, since it is not obviously in the interests of interior ministers to transfer their own powers to Brussels. But to understand this is to understand the EU?s little secret, the deformed method that causes EU states to push for leaps in integration that Brussels itself is not even requesting.

Mr Straw’s Home Office was the prime mover behind new EU rules passed last July which compelled telephone and Internet service companies to retain billing records, instead of destroying them as they do now. If EU ministers have their way, the police, including Europol, will have access to a databank listing all our telephone calls, faxes and emails, as well as a record of Internet websites that we have visited, which, taken together, provide an imprint of our daily lives.

This was vehemently denounced at the time by the European Commission (yes!), furious that its original proposal had been hijacked by authoritarians, as well as by the European Parliament and by our own data protection commissioner, Elizabeth France, who called it a violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights which safeguards privacy. Yet it was quietly passed by the 15 EU justice ministers meeting at the EU?s drab Kirchberg Plateau in Luxembourg, a spot reputed to have the highest suicide rate in Christendom. Why did they push through such a measure “which any one state had the power to block “when all indications were that the German, Dutch, Italian, Irish and Scandinavian parliaments would have voted against such a move at home, if the matter had been put to them?

Because interior ministers, with their own institutional proclivity for greater police powers, know they can get what they want more easily through the EU, where everything can be stitched up behind closed doors “especially at the Kirchberg Plateau, far from the Brussels press corps. And the British know it best. New Labour has mastered the art of exploiting EU procedures as a means of evading parliamentary oversight “and its corollary, unwelcome media debate. The consequences are irreversible. A bad British law can be repealed by a future Parliament. Practically speaking, a bad EU law can never be repealed. It is part of that great magisterium, the acquis communautaire, where it sits in perpetuity, infinitely easier to do than to undo.

But it was not until the catastrophe in New York and Washington that New Labour really got the bit between its teeth and dared to push for an EU list of proscribed terrorist organisations and a joint EU definition of terrorism that extends British anti-terror policy to the rest of the EU, and then ups the ante. A terrorist is to be defined as anybody using “intimidation? seriously to alter the political, economic or social structures of states. Clause 3.f. of the text states that “Unlawful seizure of or damage to state or government facilities, means of public transport, places of public use, and property? is an offence carrying a “minimum maximum? prison sentence of five years.

The British rights group, Statewatch, warns that this could be used to cover non-violent protest such as the Greenham Common women’s movement against US Cruise missiles. We know that it has absolutely nothing to do with al-Qa’eda. The text was drafted months ago to prevent a recurrence of the Gothenburg and Genoa riots, which were public-order problems, not terrorism. Once it is law, lodged in the acquis for ever, it can be applied to practically anything, such as anti-EU protest, and will increasingly fall under the ambit of the EU?s federal police, investigating, and (soon) prosecuting authorities. I am willing to wager a small bet in euros that this anti-terrorism text, and especially the clause “unlawful seizure of property”, will before the decade is out be used to charge a British citizen engaged in political dissent against the EU.

There will not be much escape if any other EU state chooses to interpret the new terrorism code in such a fashion, or indeed any other fashion that offends our sense of liberty. In the great rush after the attacks, EU ministers also pushed through the European arrest warrant. This obliges Holland to hand over IRA suspects, rather than embrace them as freedom fighters as they were once wont to do. But at the same time, Britain will be compelled to extradite its own citizens to Belgium or Italy, say, countries without habeas corpus, at the demand of a prosecuting magistrate, without the oversight of an independent judge. After having looked into the skulduggery of several Belgian and Italian magistrates, I personally view this as a betrayal of my rights as a free-born Englishman, and I don’t remember being told before the election that the government was going to do such a thing. Given that the acquis will now gobble up this British concession for ever, the only way I can regain my lost birthright is if Britain withdraws from the European Union completely. It is the sort of thing that sets one thinking.

Europe’s Police to spy on all emails


Europe's Police to spy on all emails


Fury over Europe's secret plan to access computer and phone data

Kamal Ahmed, political editor
Sunday June 9, 2002
The Observer

Millions of personal emails, other internet information and telephone records are to be made accessible to the police and intelligence services in a move that has been denounced by critics as one of the most wide-ranging extensions of state power over private information.

Plans being drawn up by Europol, the police and intelligence arm of the European Union, propose that telephone and internet firms retain millions of pieces of data – including details of visits to internet chat rooms, and of calls made on mobile phones and text messages.

In a move that has been condemned by privacy campaigners, a draft document passed to The Observer reveals that the EU is now drawing up a 'common code' on data retention which will be applicable in all member states.

Security and police sources said new powers on accessing personal data will come into force in Britain towards the end of the year.

'It is typical that such a significant change in the control over private information is being worked out in secret,' said Dr Ian Brown, a leading expert on data privacy and director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

'It does seem to have been Britain that has put pressure on other member states to put in place this type of legislation. In 99 per cent of cases it will be used properly, but what about the other one per cent? There is not enough scrutiny of what is going on.'

The Europol document was drawn up at a private meeting of police, intelligence services and customs and excise officials from across Europe in The Hague last April. It lists 10 areas where companies will be required to keep information to help in the fight against international terrorism, domestic crime and drug running.

Companies that run internet sites will be required to retain passwords used by individuals, record which website addresses are visited, and keep details of webpages looked at and any credit card or bank details used for subscriptions.

The information retained about emails will include who sent the message, where the email went, its contents and the time and date it was sent.

It is believed that Britain will push for the data to be kept for up to five years. At the moment much of it is only kept for one or two months, for billing purposes, by the companies that run internet and email services.

Sources at the National High-tech Crime Unit, which is overseeing implementation of plans for data retention in Britain, point out that the growth of so-called 'cyber crime' means that they need new powers to keep ahead of the criminals.

One official also said that investigations into crimes such as the murders carried out by the GP Harold Shipman relied on the retention of old telephone records.

'We need to codify how this happens, so all countries in Europe are dealing with the same set of rules,' the source said.

'The internet does not recognise national boundaries and international companies don't need the confusion of dealing with separate codes in different countries.' The Europol document says the use of telephones – land lines and mobiles – will be monitored. Numbers dialled, when and where they were dialled from and personal details such as the address, date of birth and bank details of the subscriber who paid for the call will also be kept.

The document, headed 'Expert Meeting on Cyber Crime: Data Retention', suggests mobile phones records could be used by police and the intelligence services to track the geographical location of people making calls.

Mobiles use a network of masts to convey the calls, placing the user in a geographically distinct 'cell' at the time of the call. Records using such geographical locations were used to acquit the teenagers accused of murdering Damilola Taylor.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is also drawing up a manual of standards so that police forces across the country use similar methods when accessing the data.

Towards the EU Police State: EU Criminal Law overrides Member States

Towards the EU Police State: EU Criminal Law overrides Member States


Global Research, September 30, 2005
National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Ireland

Global Rseearch Editors Note

This ruling of the EU is farreaching.

If the EU establishes "anti-terrorist" legislation patterned on the US, this legislation will override the laws of the member states. The development of supranational institutions and supranational powers constitutes a first step towards a Eu police state apparatus, where fundamental rights protected by the laws of the member states are derogated.

Moves toward European-wide police-state methods

Moves toward European-wide police-state methods

By Martin Kreickenbaum
13 April 2004
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2004/apr2004/euro-a13.shtml

Coming just a few weeks after the train bombings in Madrid, the “war on terror” moved to centre stage at the recent European Union (EU) spring summit, which took place in Brussels March 25-26. According to the European media, the meeting was a milestone for the further integration of Europe. The Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper, for example, saw the terror attacks as a “permanent catalyst? for continued European integration.

According to these arguments, the attacks have made possible a yielding of national interests in favour of joint action. The voting out of office of the conservative Aznar government in Spain and the resignation by the Polish prime minister Leszek Miller have eased the path for the possible adoption of the European constitution by June. Where only a short time ago a rift had developed between “old” and “new? Europe, the media is now evoking the unification of Europe.

However, what this integration means in the first instance is the integration of the different security apparatuses in Europe to better coordinate their activities. Consequently, the same process is taking place in Europe as in the US, where the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, were used as a pretence for a dramatic onslaught against the democratic rights of the population.

Within the space of only 10 days between the Madrid bombings and the Brussels meeting, the European governments and the EU Commission have given their blessings to an entire range of measures without any substantial discussion. The commission rushed to produce a draft proposal, entitled “Declaration on the Struggle against Terror,” which served as the basis for discussion on the first day of the summit.

At first glance, the declaration does not appear all that significant: current laws should be enforced, an EU security coordinator appointed and the exchange of information between nations improved. In reality, however, a series of security policies will be enacted that incorporate a previously unheard of level of surveillance and intrusion into the privacy of the entire populace, placing practically everyone under general suspicion as well as advancing the militarisation of domestic policies. These measures also allow for the suppression of protests and dissenting opinions.

The abolition of data privacy

Using the specious justification that a better exchange of security information between the EU states could have possibly prevented the Madrid bombings, the government heads agreed to increase the exchange of information on these matters.

However, this exchange does not just apply to that information which already exists, but to what must also now be collected – above all, biometric data. This includes the gathering of information about facial characteristics as well as fingerprints. These are to be digitised and recorded on special computer chips, together with other identity features. Currently, fingerprints are already taken for many visa applications and saved in the European EURODAC database. Using this method, deported foreigners can be identified for future visa requests and prevented from attempting renewed attempts to enter the EU.

In future, applicants will only be able to receive visas if they can produce identity papers containing biometric data. This data will then be saved in the central visa information system VIS and made available to all border checkpoints and police departments. Through this ambitious project, the EU wants to create the largest collection of biometric data in the world. The aim is to gather around 70 million records, which will remain in the system for up to five years.

EU citizens will not be exempted. From 2006, one year earlier than initially planned, every passport issued in the EU will also contain biometric data. The central storage of this data will enable governments to track the movements of every person.

Future identification cards will contain such data as well. This means that the entire population will be placed under general suspicion, with a complete collection made of fingerprints and facial characteristics of every resident in the EU. Every surveillance camera connected to this data could, through a facial recognition system, detect where a person is at any particular moment. Such a system is envisioned for airports and train stations.

Further inroads will be made into the protection of data privacy. In future, airlines will have to make data available to the authorities for passengers taking EU flights, including the most sensitive of information. Alongside travel particulars, this will include credit card details, previous travels and, if required, health problems. At present, the US requests this information from European airlines for passengers taking transcontinental flights. Soon, the authorities in the US and Europe will even have direct access to the reservation systems of the airlines, which would allow all flights to be monitored.

Fingerprint data and DNA profiles drawn up through saliva tests carried out across entire regions, which have up until now been collected by individual countries, will be brought together and matched. Since 1997, EU member states have already been required to connect their databases containing DNA profiles. In doing so, no list of offences has been drawn up nor any limitations on the use of data, so that DNA profiles could be assembled and maintained virtually unhindered.

Acting on the proposal by British Home Secretary David Blunkett, the commission will draw up recommendations by June 2005 that would force telecommunications carriers and Internet providers to save customer usage data for a five-year period. Whereas mobile phones are alleged to have played a significant role in the Madrid terror attacks, the EU wants to permit the complete surveillance of their usage, as well as that of e-mail accounts and visited web sites.

The existing personal data management system, SIS I, will be upgraded to a newer version (SIS II) to accommodate the increased data arising from the expansion of the EU in May. The SIS system was originally implemented to assist in the tracking down of stolen goods such as automobiles, but has since mutated increasingly into a personal information database.

More than 1 million people are already recorded in SIS, most of them refugees and asylum seekers who are due to be deported or to whom future entry is to be denied. This register will now be expanded to cover any person who has his or her entry or departure denied, such as protesters who wish to demonstrate against World Trade Organisation or G8 meetings.

Until now, recorded persons had only relatively small amounts of information tabulated about them – for example, refusal of entry into a country and the name of the office issuing the refusal. Data was only kept for a maximum of three years.

This period will be increased and the kind of data maintained dramatically broadened. Personal characteristics are to be kept along with biometric data and personal DNA profiles. The SIS II system will operate on the same technical platform as that for visa information so that both sorts of data will be compatible.

What is significant is not just the kind of data that will be saved, but also how it will be used. On this issue, German Interior Minister Otto Schily has for years argued that access should be granted on the lowest possible level. According to Schilx’s proposal, even traffic police would be given access and immigration departments also included in data registration.

If any of Schilx’s colleagues in the EU previously had reservations about invasion of privacy, these have fallen away after March 11. The previously agreed-on “Development of Principles for the Protection of Data? has been put on hold, which means that the unhindered flow and access of information is now all but inevitable.

Data collected by Europol will also be matched with this new data. The European police agency is above all an intelligence service that analyses data in the most varied of branches and whose databases contain up to 100,000 records. They document criminal activities and persons, including the convicted, suspects, witnesses, victims and contact persons. The collection of analyses and working data will not be assembled on the basis of specific instances of criminal activity, but will instead be based on the strategic and political considerations that Europol regards as relevant to its work.

Europol works closely with the respective intelligence services in each country and receives much of its data from them. The integration of SIS with the Europol computer servers will mean even closer collaboration between the intelligence services and the police. The separation of these two branches and the prohibition against using information from intelligence agencies in courts are to be largely lifted.

Brussels accused of ‘police state tactics’

Brussels accused of 'police state tactics'

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in Brussels
The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/04/23/weu23.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/04/23/ixnewstop.html
Last Updated: 8:53pm BST 22/04/2004

The European Union was accused of using "police state tactics" to stifle criticism after police raided the offices of a Brussels journalist and seized a vast archive of documents identifying his sources.

Hans-Martin Tillack, Brussels correspondent for Germany's Stern magazine, said Belgian police took computers, mobile telephones, address books, bank statements, and 17 boxes of documents.

They were acting on instructions from the EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf.
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Mr Tillack was held incommunicado by police without access to a lawyer for 10 hours last month. The second raid occurred on Wednesday. He is suspected of bribing an official to obtain an internal Olaf dossier in 2002.

He dismissed the claim as pure fabrication intended to justify a "fishing expedition" through his files.

Herbert Bosch, an Austrian Socialist MEP in charge of overseeing Olaf, said: "What is happening is absolutely unacceptable. I don't believe there is a scrap of evidence against Tillack".

Chris Heaton-Harris, a Tory MEP, accused Olaf of "police state tactics" and said it was part of a pattern in which EU whistleblowers were singled out for harsh treatment.

Mr Tillack has clashed repeatedly with Olaf, accusing it of dragging its feet on serious corruption cases.

What is the intelligence operation ‘Camolin’?

The war on  terrorism:
 What is "Camolin"?

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2006/jan/05eu-camolin.htm

What is "Camolin"?

A little-noticed report in Der Spiegel in November 2004  (13.11.04) revealed the existence of an intelligence operation  called "Camolin" involving agencies from the USA, Germany,  France, UK, Canada and Australia.

The operation  set up in February 2003 is charged with tracking down Al-Qaeda  suspects in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Its headquarters is in  a military barracks close to Paris where regular meetings of  the agencies take place backed up by a secure communications  system. The role of the European agencies is to supply dossiers  on suspects which the CIA then acts on.

The Der Speigel  article stated the Germany was represented by the Federal Intelligence  Agency and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

Greece and British MI6 cooperate in massive sweeps and abduction

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2006/jan/08greece-security-sweep.htm

Greece

5,432 immigrants questioned in massive security sweep in July-August  2005 at request of MI6
– 28 Pakistani  men abducted, held in secret houses, questioned and subjected  to violence
George Voulgarakis, the Public Order  Minister, told the Greek parliament’s Committee on Public Order  and Justice earlier this month that:

"The British sent a very long list of individuals  seen as being involved in the 7 July attacks"

As a result, in July and August 2005, 5,432 immigrants were  "questioned", 2,172 immigrants were "probed",  1,221 were arrested for "other reasons" (other presumably  than terrorism) and six of these were deported. The massive sweep  across Greece was carried out by over 1,000 law enforcement units  including state security, immigration and counter-terrorism officers.

The evidence presented to the Committee by the Minister was  that MI6 (the UK’s external intelligence agency or Secret Intelligence  Service, SIS) had sent a request to Athens about a specific Al-Qaeda  operative with a Greek mobile number (a number which had too  many digits and might have been a "cryptographic" code,  or simply wrong). A number of other Greek mobile numbers supposedly  linked to the suicide bombers of 7 July 2005 were also provided.

28 Pakistani men abducted, held in secret houses, questioned  and subjected to violence
Mr Voulgarakis said that none of the 28 Pakistani  men who say they were abducted were among those arrested in the  sweep last year – confirming that this was an intelligence not  a police operation. The men were abducted by plain-clothed security  agents – probably from the Greek national intelligence service,  EYP – from Athens, and from Oinofyta and Ioannina to the North.  One eyewitness said of seven of the men from Ioannina, "one  minute they were working on the farm then they disappeared for  a week".

Three of the men were interviewed by the Athens News  – Gul Nawaz, Mohammed Nazir and Mohammed Munir abducted from  their homes in Petralona, Athens. They were driven to a house  where they were interrogated, fed once a day and slept on the  floor for between two to six days before being released. Gul  Nawaz said:

"They covered our eyes by pulling our shirts over  our heads. They drove us blindfolded for about an hour and a  half – a long time…. Two times the policeman hit me. Then I  asked for some water and he punched me hard in the face. Later  he kicked me. They hit me four times"

Mohammed Munir said:

"They questioned me over five days, between  one and three hours each time. They asked me lots of questions  about London. They hit me very hard on the head."

Frangisko Ragousis, a lawyer representing seven of those abducted,  said that his clients’ testimony shows several foreign, English-speaking  agents were involved in the interrogations. Nawaz said one of  then was an English-speaking black man.

At a meeting in Athens on 19 January one of the lawyers said  that the men were under great pressure from the Pakistan Embassy  to withdraw their complaints. Frangisko Ragousis said that they  had been offered bribes to retract their statements.

Javed Aslan, President of the Pakistani Community in Greece,  said the men had been physically abused:

"There was a dark-skinned British [spy] who was apparently  in charge. One man was threatened with a pistol that was shoved  in his mouth, others were hit."

The Greek magazine Pro Thema broke the story in December  and named the MI6 head of station in Athens as well as 15 Greek  EYP agents – the accuracy of the latter appears to be confirmed  as the EYP said this endangered "the safety of its agents  in the field".

This reaction by the intelligence agency contrasted to that  of the police who said in December that they had only recently  received a formal complaints. In fact the the mens’ lawyers had  filed the complaints on 29 July 2005. It then took the prosecutor  until 29 September to order an investigation and which was not  recorded on the prosecutor’s office computer system until 18  November 2005. The Attica police were not handed the case until  2 December 2005.

Justice Minister, Anastasios Papaligouras, said that law enforcement  cooperation with the UK was based on a "1961 law" providing  for the exchange of evidence and court records. This appears  to be a reference to the 1959 Council of Europe European Convention  on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (ratified by Greece  in 1962). However, this Convention in Article 1.2 says:

"This Convention does not apply to arrests"

The Convention applies to supplying evidence and records but  not arrests and certainly not detention for questioning.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The Public Order Minister confirmed that the 28 men  were not part of the massive sweep last summer. It was clearly  a separate intelligence agency operation carried out by EFY at  the behest of MI6. If they had been arrested the questioning  would have taken place at police stations where they would have  had the right to legal advice and regular meals etc.

They were not arrested but abducted by intelligence agents,  held incommunicado in secret houses, denied legal advice, and  in a number of cases suffered abuse and ill-treatment."

Background

 1. Protest  march on 28 Pakistani men abducted at behest of MI6
 2. MI6  Athens station chief named (Cryptome, link)
 3. MI6  officer linked to abductions in Athens hunt for Tube bombers (Guardian, link)
 4. Greece  urged to investigate MI6 torture link
 5. Athens  News  (link)
 6. 1959  CoE Convention on Mutual Assistnce in Criminal Matters (pdf)

Filed  25.1.06.

Czech Republic to introduce anti-terror law

Svoboda for anti-terror law as Spain mourns victims of Madrid attacks

Radio Praha, 25 March 2004

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/52074[25-03-2004]

By Ian Willoughby and Alexis Rosenzweig

Newspapers around the world on Thursday carried photographs of people grieving at a service in the Spanish capital Madrid for the victims of a terrorist attack there two weeks ago. The state memorial service was attended by several European leaders, among them the Czech prime minister, Vladimir Spidla, who told Radio Prague why he had gone to Madrid.
State memorial service, photo: CTKState memorial service, photo: CTK

 

"To me it’s very important, because it was a terrible attack which caused great human suffering. I want to show the people of Spain the participation and support of the Czech Republic."

The Madrid massacre has put the issue of terrorism on the agenda around the continent. The Czech Republic currently has no anti-terrorism legislation, though that situation is set to change in the next few months, according to senior government figures. On the plane to the Madrid service, Radio Prague’s Alexei Rosenzweig asked the country’s foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, whether the Czech Republic really needed an anti-terrorism law.

 

"My answer is clear – yes. We need a new piece of legislation dealing with the special protection against terrorism. And the law is to authorise the state to take some decisions on some restrictions. Just for one reason – to protect the security of Czech citizens on the territory of the Czech Republic and also outside the Czech Republic."

However, the Czech Republic already has laws against many activities which would fall under the category of terrorism. Why – in that case – is there a need for a special new law?

 

"The legal environment we have got is good, it’s well functioning, but not for such a dangerous phenomenon as terrorist attacks. So if there are some terrorist attacks we need to be more flexible in protecting Czech citizens."

 

Guilty until proven guiltier

Guilty until proven guiltier

 

From Galileo to Vaclav Havel, history shows that house arrest is not only unjust, but counterproductive.

OF THE draconian measures unveiled by the Home Secretary in the name of national security, none casts the shadow of a police state more ominously than the newly brandished weapon of house arrest. The practice of shuttering suspects and enemies in their own homes has a long and dishonourable history: it is usually the last resort of a regime without the evidence or stomach for a trial. House arrest not only breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, but is also impractical, often counter-productive and historically naive. The very term is itself freighted with connotations of overweening state control.In an accident of good timing, the Tories? call for more history teaching in schools coincided with a fresh bout of historical amnesia on the part of the Government. A mere glance at the past suggests that house arrest is simply a way of making imprisonment without trial appear less onerous, and a dangerous infringement of liberty that usually does not work.

Totalitarian states have traditionally resorted to house detention as a way to silence dissent without the bad publicity of criminal proceedings, so creating a form of extralegal limbo that indicates guilt on the part of a suspect without having to go to the trouble of obtaining a conviction. As the fate of the late Zhao Ziyang demonstrated so chillingly, house arrest imposes lingering, silent political death. The purged Chinese Communist leader could leave his home rarely and then only with the permission of the party bosses. Thus was he consigned to a purgatory of impotent anonymity, and occasional golf, for 16 years. When Saddam Hussein came to power in 1979, he placed his enemies under formal house arrest, and murdered them later when no one was watching. Nikita Krushchev, deposed in 1964, vanished into the Siberia of home detention for seven years until his death.

Michael Foot once argued that life imprisonment was “a declaration of societx’s intellectual bankruptcy”, but the imposition of house arrest, by political order rather than by the courts, may be a sign of even greater impoverishment, for too often house arrest is not a legal or penal solution, but a stalling mechanism. Faced with the problem of Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I first opted to put her cousin under house arrest, before eventually (and reluctantly) agreeing to her execution. In Chile, General Augusto Pinochet has been returned to the unsatisfactory no man’s land of house arrest, neither imprisoned nor free, neither guilty nor innocent.

Repressive regimes from apartheid South Africa to Zimbabwe to Burma have used house arrest to buy time and silence critics, but in Britain there is an instinctive revulsion at such methods. The saying about an Englishman’s home being his castle is fundamentally true, like all clich

FBI (!) returns seized news servers to European Indymedia

FBI returns seized news servers


Italian riot police at G8 summit, AP
Italian police are investigating Indymedia

Servers seized by the FBI from the alternative media network known as Indymedia have been returned.

BBC News, 14 October, 2004

 The servers in the outskirts of London were taken last week by the FBI which said it was acting on behalf of Italian and Swiss authorities.

Indymedia hosts sites, news and radio feeds for anti-globalisation groups and other campaigners for social justice.

The media group is now taking legal advice about what action it can take over the seizure of its hardware.

International investigation

During the 7 October raid hard drives were taken that held the websites for many local Indymedia groups, audio feeds for net radio stations as well as several other groups.

Indymedia said some of the 20 sites knocked out by the raid were restored from back-up copies soon after the originals were taken.


We are exploring all avenues to hold the government accountable for this improper and unconstitutional silencing of independent media

Kurt Opsahl, EFF

Others, such as Antwerp, Belgrade, Liege and Lille, took longer to restore.

Indymedia said some of its local affiliates, notably Uruguay, Italy, Western Massachusetts and Nantes, lost data because of the seizure.

The media group said it had verified that the hard drives returned on 13 October were the ones actually taken in the raid.

With the help of the cyber-liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, it is making sure the returned data is secure and has taken its own copy of it in case of future legal action.

"EFF is deeply concerned about the grave implications of this seizure for free speech and privacy," said Kurt Opsahl, staff attorney for the EFF.

"We are exploring all avenues to hold the government accountable for this improper and unconstitutional silencing of independent media," he said.

The raid was also condemned by the International Federation of Journalists which called it an: ""unacceptable and intrusive international police action".

Gagging order

The drives were seized from the London offices of a San Antonio-based company called Rackspace that hosts the Indymedia sites.


Servers seized during a raid on alternative media network Indymedia have been returned
The returned drives are being examined

Rackspace said the legal justification for the raid included a gagging order that prevented it revealing details.

The servers were apparently seized under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty which is typically used by nations co-operating to investigate cross-border crimes such as terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering.

In a statement posted on its main website Indymedia said evidence was emerging that four different countries, the US, UK, Italy and Switzerland, were behind the server seizure.

Italian authorities were reportedly investigating the Italian Indymedia group for "supporting terrorism".

Swiss authorities said the raid could help its investigation of Indymedia coverage of 2003’s G8 Summit in Evian.

Blair defends new anti-terror laws

Blair defends new anti-terror laws

 

Friday, September 16, 2005 Posted: 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)

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Blair won support for the need to ban the incitement of terrorism at the U.N.

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LONDON, England (Reuters) — British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday defended his decision to toughen anti-terror laws which have drawn fierce criticism from civil liberties groups.

Blair’s centre-left government unveiled plans on Thursday to extend the time police can hold terrorism suspects without charge to three months from two weeks, part of a package of measures to tackle militancy.

The proposals follow July’s suicide bombings which killed 52 commuters on London’s transport network. Police have since detained 17 foreigners for deportation on the grounds they are threats to security and barred a Muslim cleric.

Blair, who won global support for the need to ban the incitement of terrorism at a United Nations summit in New York this week, said most European countries were tightening laws.

"There’s never been an untrammelled right to what people accept as human liberties," Blair said in a BBC radio interview.

"It’s always been qualified by some sense of duty or responsibility.

"If, when you are here you want to stay here, play by the rules, play fair, don’t start inciting people to go and kill other innocent people in Britain," he said.

Civil rights groups said the proposals were draconian compared with other countries. Human rights group Liberty said holding suspects for three months might backfire by alienating the very communities police and security services were trying to engage with.

They are also worried suspects could be deported to countries with dubious human rights records.


Torture fears

On Thursday, British police seized seven Algerians as national security threats and said they would deport them. Last month it detained 10 foreigners, including the suspected spiritual leader of al Qaeda in Europe.

Official sources said the Algerians were all former defendants accused of involvement in a 2002 plot to manufacture the deadly ricin poison. Four were acquitted and criminal charges against the other three were dropped.

Interior Minister Charles Clarke said the men would not be deported anywhere they would face torture. However human rights group Amnesty said the detainees must be allowed to challenge properly the grounds for deportation.

"They went through a six-month trial where they saw all of the evidence and where the jury exonerated them," said Gareth Pierce, lawyer for three of the seven men detained on Thursday.

"They have now been thrown into a new process deliberately constructed so that they will see none of the evidence and the ultimate object of it is to send them to a country (Algeria) where they will be tortured," she told BBC radio.

Pierce said one of her clients had been granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain as he had been tortured at home.

UK: Head of MI5 warns of the need to erode civil liberties in the fight against terrorism

UK: Head of MI5 warns  of the need to erode civil liberties in the fight against terrorism

Below is the text of a speech given by the Director-General  of MI5 (the UK’s Security Service) in the Hague, Netherlands  on 1 September 2005. The message, and the language, are very  familiar: "the world has changed" (Tony Blair,  UK Prime Minister and Charles Clarke, Home Secretary") and  the need to protect our "way of life" (Tony  Blair, Javier Solana) against terrorist attacks. She argues in  favour of mandatory data retention of traffic data on all communications,  hints at the need to introduce plea-bargaining (under "intelligence  interviews") and that intelligence is often fragile, too  "fragile" to bring before a court but that action is  required. (StateWatch)

"I think that this is a central dilemma, how to protect  our citizens within the rule of law when intelligence does not  amount to clear cut evidence and when it is fragile. We also,  of course, and I repeat in both our countries and within the  EU value civil liberties and wish to do nothing to damage these  hard-fought for rights. But the world has changed and there needs  to be a debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may  be necessary to improve the chances of our citizens not being  blown apart as they go about their daily lives."

"THE INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST THREAT AND THE DILEMMAS  IN COUNTERING IT"

 SPEECH BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE SECURITY SERVICE,  DAME ELIZA MANNINGHAM-BULLER,
 AT THE RIDDERZAAL, BINNENHOF, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS,  1  SEPTEMBER 2005  

"I am delighted to be here to celebrate the 60th Birthday  of the AIVD. The friendship between the AIVD and my Service,  the British Security Service – commonly known as MI5 – pre-dates  even those 60 years.

I quote from a note in our files from 1946: "The friendly  relationship, established during the war, with the Dutch Security  Service in London continues to operate with very satisfactory  results". In celebrating the birthday, I am here, not only  to represent the UK, but as a symbol of all the friends of this  Service and there are many throughout the world.

Perhaps that is my first message. One of the strengths we  have in facing a global, international threat is long-standing  intelligence relationships of trust and co-operation in Europe  and further afield, created and nurtured in the case of the UK  and the Netherlands over 60 years. That relationship has been  tested in adversity. It is strongly-forged and, for someone with  a career such as mine, a professional intelligence officer for over 30 years, the relationship means a great deal.

One of my first visits overseas as a young officer was to  The Hague and, after a fascinating trip to the Mauritshuis, I  remember very well meeting a Dutch officer of this Service who  had been in the resistance in the Second World War while still  a teenager. He had been sent to Buchenwald where he had survived  because he worked as a Russian interpreter. His career was focussed  first on fighting the threat from fascism then, by the time I  met him, on countering terrorism.

Although I was born three years after the war and I do not  speak Russian or, indeed, Dutch, and my experience was slight  whilst his was extensive, we spoke a common language as we do  today. Then and now the AIVD and the British Security Service  understand each other and agree on the role of a modern, professional  security service in a democracy. That role is to defend that  democracy from substantial threats to its security and to protect,  as far as possible, the way of life of its people. So, when Sybrand  van Hulst invited me to speak on this occasion about the threat  of international terrorism and the dilemmas in countering it,  I had no hesitation in accepting his invitation.

I accepted the invitation to speak before the terrorist attacks  in London in July. It is significant that we received from the  AIVD an early message of sympathy and support, followed by constructive  help. My Service received many offers of help from our friends  around the world and our friends just across the English Channel.  That is a second message. Key to countering this problem is international  co-operation.

The attacks in London were a shock, and my Service and the  police were disappointed that we had not been able to prevent  them. But we were not altogether surprised because of our understanding  of the threat which is what I wish to discuss next, although  in some ways it feels unnecessary to describe it. We have seen  so many manifestations of it both before 9/11, for example in  Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, and since then in Casablanca, Madrid  and Bali and many other places as well of course as here in the  Netherlands.

Those of us in the intelligence community are also aware of  many more attacks thwarted by good intelligence and police work,  and through international co-operation. Those successes have  usually been quiet ones. But we are judged by what we do not  know and did not prevent. I shall come back to that point later  when describing the nature of intelligence.

Al Qaida represents the first truly global terrorist threat.  The extremist ideology it sponsors has spread round the world  and seeped into and infected individuals and groups almost everywhere.  The attacks of 9/11 inspired new generations, discontented with  Western policies and ways of life, to seek to emulate, so far  generally on a more modest scale, those horrendous attacks in  New York and Washington we recall so well.

The key components of those attacks were a major loss of life,  economic damage across the globe and the preparedness of 19 young  men to commit suicide: it was a graphic illustration of what  terrorism can achieve. And those inspired by Al Qaida who have  formed networks based on terrorist training camps, not only in  Afghanistan, and shared experiences in Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya,  but also nearer to home, within our countries, have the capacity,  if we allow them, to do real harm to our way of life.

We, the British and the Dutch, and many others in Western  Europe and elsewhere judge the threat to be serious and sustained,  with a proven lethality and the potential to continue for years  to come. The root causes are fuelled by a complex series of intractable  issues and while there has been substantial success and a high  attrition rate against the core of Al Qaida, there are now many  potential terrorists who have no linkage to Al Qaida but are  inspired by its ideology and actions. On the Internet such individuals  can see images of suffering Muslims in various parts of the world:  and they may, from radical preachers, hear an interpretation  of Islam which is violent and demands action by the listener.

This process of radicalisation is now better understood: the  message has an appeal to small numbers in our communities. Bin  Laden’s articulation of an extremist ideology has inspired a  broad coalition of groups and there is a widespread covert series  of networks which supports that ideology, with links round the  world and roots almost everywhere.

So how do we respond? Intelligence is key to any successful  counter terrorist strategy but it is not enough and I shall explain  why not. I want first to say something about the nature of intelligence  and its use. What many here will know but is not always well  understood is that intelligence rarely tells you all you want  to know.

I should like to quote from Lord Butler’s report into the  "Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction".  "The most important limitation on intelligence is its incompleteness.  Much ingenuity and effort is spent on making secret intelligence  difficult to acquire and hard to analyse… intelligence seldom  acquires the full story… it is often… sporadic and patchy  and, even after analysis may still be at best inferential".

Often difficult decisions need to be made on the basis of  intelligence which is fragmentary and difficult to interpret.  In sum, some is gold, some dross and all of it requires validation,  analysis and assessment. When it is gold it shines and illuminates,  saves lives, protects nations and informs policy. When identified  as dross it needs to be rejected: that may take some confidence.  At the end of the day it requires people of integrity not only  to collect it but also to prioritise, sift, judge and use it.

Intelligence work requires careful training and people who  are shrewd, objective and sensible and can manage the uncertainty  of intelligence. I have met many people like that in the AIVD.

But intelligence is also fragile. It comes from human sources  who risk their lives and whom we have a high moral duty to protect  and from technologies whose effectiveness can be countered by  skilled opponents. That is why there can be no coercion to share  intelligence and why its use in open courts needs to be carefully  handled. In principle we both want to share, and want to see  successful prosecutions. We do not collect intelligence for its  own sake; there is no point. We need to develop and act on it  for the safety of all our citizens.

Given the threat is global, protecting our friends is a way  also of protecting ourselves. So we have a very strong interest  in international co-operation, in all similar services having  both the full legal powers to collect intelligence and the skill  and experience to handle it carefully but if we splash it around  carelessly we shall soon have none of it. So I could never agree  to a compulsory exchange of intelligence as that would risk compromising  valuable sources of intelligence. There would soon be little  to exchange.

To some that presents a real dilemma: to me it’s part of the  normal conduct of business, making sure intelligence gets to  the right places and is used while sources are protected. I would  add another dilemma in intelligence work, balancing investigation  and monitoring of those whom we know present a threat, with work  to discover and nullify previously unknown threats.

In the UK, and certainly here in the Netherlands, intelligence  is not only used to help track down and disrupt terrorists. We  are trying more widely to reduce the risks of terrorism. Intelligence  supports wider policies and action to make it more difficult  for terrorists to succeed. That may involve increasing protection  at our key sites or on our key systems to reduce their vulnerability  to attack. It will involve reviewing laws to check whether they  are best-framed to be deployed early on before the terrorist  commits his act.

I am sure you agree with me that containing terrorism in a  democratic society, governed by the rule of law, where civil  rights are of great value, having been acquired with difficulty  over many centuries, is not straightforward. Our courts require  evidence that meets high standards of proof and strong evidence  of a crime having been committed or strong evidence of a conspiracy  to commit such a crime.

This is one of the central dilemmas of countering this sort  of terrorism. We may be confident that an individual or group  is planning an attack but that confidence comes from the sort  of intelligence I described earlier, patchy and fragmentary and  uncertain, to be interpreted and assessed. All too often it falls  short of evidence to support criminal charges to bring an individual  before the courts, the best solution if achievable. Moreover,  as I said earlier, we need to protect fragile sources of intelligence  including human sources.

Being in this position can be uncomfortable for Services such  as the AIVD and mine. We can believe, correctly, that a terrorist  atrocity is being planned but those arrested by the police have  to be released as the plan is too embryonic, too vague to lead  to charges and possibly convictions. Furthermore the intelligence  may be highly sensitive and its exposure would be very damaging  as revealing either the source or our capability.

I think that this is a central dilemma, how to protect our  citizens within the rule of law when intelligence does not amount  to clear cut evidence and when it is fragile. We also, of course,  and I repeat in both our countries and within the EU value civil  liberties and wish to do nothing to damage these hard-fought  for rights. But the world has changed and there needs to be a  debate on whether some erosion of what we all value may be necessary  to improve the chances of our citizens not being blown apart  as they go about their daily lives. Another dilemma.

That brings me on to the roles of government, the commercial  sector and the public. As I said earlier the threat cannot be  countered by intelligence alone or by the police and the security  and intelligence agencies.

It is the responsibility of governments to address the causes,  set the legal frameworks for countering terrorism so that Services  can collect intelligence by all means including through the retention  of data, and ensure the development and implementation both of  pan-government policies and international initiatives to protect  ourselves to the best possible level.

It is also important that governments ensure intelligence  and security agencies and the police have appropriate and effective  legal powers and the resources to maximise the chances of success.  My government has given to my Service and the police very public  support since the attacks, understanding as it does that there  is no such thing as complete security.

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament  has indicated that it will look at the facts and it will no doubt  wish to review whether we missed anything and the attacks could  have been prevented – but no one in government nor, to be fair,  the media, immediately rushed to the presumption that the July  attacks were our fault. And the public has bombarded our website  with messages of support.

One way of using the intelligence is to develop from it advice  to protect ourselves. Across the UK private companies are working  with my Service and the police to improve their resilience and  strengthen their ability to stay in business in the face of threats  or actual attacks. The narrow definition of the threat to corporate  security has traditionally been focused on crime and fraud: it  needs to be widened to include terrorism, for anticipation of  that to become an integral part of business planning.

And the public. Since 7th July I have been proud of the courage  of Londoners, refusing to be cowed by the attacks on the underground  and buses, resolutely asserting "we are not afraid"  even when they are, and showing determination and toughness in  the face of terror. People took extraordinary efforts to come  to work even when the public transport system was only half-working.

A few days after the first attacks we celebrated in London  the sixty years since the end of the Second World War. Veterans  from that war came into Central London, all of them octogenarians  or more, some proudly wearing their medals, some in wheelchairs,  determined not to be stopped by the current manifestation of  terror from remembering both their contemporaries who died preventing  the terror of fascism from prevailing and from celebrating the  democratic values which we share.

And I am proud that most people understood that the attacks  were on all our citizens, whatever their ethnic origin, and indeed  on 17 citizens of 14 other nations. There has been outspoken  condemnation of terrorism from all quarters of society and many  people have provided information to us and police.

This brings me to another point, the importance of public  communication, of telling the public  in broad terms what  the threat is and trusting them to respond sensibly. We all rely  upon public support and co-operation. For many years we have  relied in the UK on the good will, good sense and above all,  the trust of our fellow citizens to cope with the inconvenience  of added security measures, checks and disruption to normal life  of bomb warnings and other alerts.

I would note here a further dilemma. In a society with 24  hour media and the internet the chances are slight that a pre-emptive  security response to a terror threat will go unreported. But  it is often simply impossible to explain what lies behind a public  alert.

I repeat. We need to protect valuable sources of intelligence  without which there would be no warning at all. Compromising  them will achieve little in the short term and, to repeat, will  damage our ability to collect intelligence. At the same time  public safety is the overriding concern and requires the authorities  to act quickly when faced with credible intelligence about a  threat.

Governments face difficult decisions about how best to protect  the public, without preventing normal life going on or damaging  the economy. We want people to continue their way of life and  have confidence to make their own decisions on risk. Given we  in the UK, and I expect the statistics are not so different here,  receive over a hundred pieces of threat intelligence a week,  i.e. intelligence pointing to a terrorist threat, decisions on what to do are difficult, especially as is so often the case  if the intelligence is piecemeal and uncertain. The repercussions,  another dilemma, of such decisions can be significant.

As I said earlier, international co-operation in the face  of an international threat is essential. The AIVD presidency  of the European Counter-Terrorist Group was particularly important,  in welcoming the Security Services of the ten EU accession  countries into the CTG, and in establishing the link between  the CTG and the EU Sitcen. The UK plans for its Presidency were  drawn up, in consultation with others, before the attacks: they  have not needed to be much amended as, again as I said earlier,  we anticipated further attacks and were not surprised when they occurred.

In my area we are working through the CTG and have an extensive  range of work in hand. We wish to focus on implementing existing  initiatives rather than producing a fresh raft of them. We need  to engage more extensively with partners outside the EU in order  to put the threat within Europe into a broader context and we  need to build both on the links to Europol and the relationship  with the EU Sitcen.

I know some believe that international, or in this case EU,  work can present a difficult dilemma with regard to national  interests but, in my experience, substantial counter-terrorist  work on a practical, tactical level works successfully every  day on the basis of the relationships of mutual trust to which  I referred at the start of my talk. And at the political and  strategic level there is further important work in progress.

So, in sum, we, the UK, the Netherlands and beyond face a  high level of threat. The scale of the problem we face has become  more apparent as the amount of intelligence collected and shared  has increased. Responding to it is challenging. Intelligence,  the capability to collect it and the competence to handle it  are vital but not sufficient.

The response of governments, the commercial sector and the  public are also of critical importance. Using intelligence, which  may be both fragile and fragmentary, ensuring our legal frameworks  are fit to address threats before they materialise fully, not  through our own actions destroying what we value in our way of  life and what terrorists wish to damage, and balanced public  communication, all present real difficulties.

What I am confident about is that the Dutch people are as  well-equipped as any to handle these dilemmas, and that in the  AIVD you have a highly professional, modern, thoughtful Security  Service doing a difficult job. I applaud them and hope you will  join me in doing so."