‘European FBI is another EU vanity project’ – ex-MI5 intelligence officer

‘European FBI is another EU vanity project’ – ex-MI5 intelligence officer
An FBI for the EU would be incredibly difficult to realize given the distrust between intelligence agencies, vastly different legal systems and history, explains Annie Machon, a former MI5 intelligence officer.

The increased threat of terrorism in Europe has been blamed on the influx of migrants, so EU politicians have come up with a plan to deal with it.

The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani wants to establish a domestic intelligence service similar to America's FBI within the bloc to fight terrorism. He emphasized that member states must cooperate much more. 

RT spoke to former British intelligence officer Annie Machon, who suggests the rhetoric is just another vanity project which won't work.

RT: Do you think a new "FBI for the EU" is really necessary? Will it solve the migrant problem? Is it needed in Europe?

Annie Machon: It sounds like another step toward federalized Europe, in my view. We have a situation where the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at the beginning of this year said he wants to create an EU army which would be a sort of parallel organization to NATO from what I could understand. To create a European-wide FBI would have immense problems. To get the intelligence agencies of the 28 countries in the EU, to cooperate, to share fully, to work together would be incredibly difficult not because of history and not least because of trust issues in terms of which organization is going to keep your secrets, which might leak them…But also in terms of the legal infrastructures in each country. We have a mishmash across Europe: the Napoleonic legal Code or common law or other various types of legal infrastructure. So, to try and get one organization that has police powers widely across Europe - I think it would be incredibly difficult to make realistic.

RT: There's already Europol to deal with counter-terrorism on a bloc level. Isn't that enough? What is wrong with it? Is it failing?

AM: I don’t think they are failing. I think they are probably trying to do their best. They are more of an information and intelligence sharing organization without executive powers to make arrests, and that is precisely because in each country there are different legal codes, infrastructures, laws about what people can do. The best we can have across Europe at this point is the enhanced sharing of information, cooperation between intelligence agencies. But there is always going to be that sudden distrust, that sudden need to preserve their sources of information and to keep them close to their chests. To have a sort of European FBI rampaging across the European continent – I don’t really can see happening.

RT: Does this mean that Europe is not so unified in terms of sharing information?

AM: Yes, there is always distrust between intelligence agencies. They want to keep their sources close to their chest. There are different approaches to how intelligence agencies work, different powers within each country about what precisely those intelligence agencies can do legally within their own country. So, trying to find a common standard is going to be incredibly difficult across the EU. We are looking at countries going from Ireland right across to Poland and Hungary. It is a vast spread of territory. It is a vast spread of history, and it is a vast spread of different legal systems. I can’t see how this can work. It sounds like another EU vanity project.

Europeans should ‘swallow nationalistic pride.’

British MEP Bill Newton Dunn argues that Europe does need its own FBI in addition to the existing Europol which is “just an information center.”

“In Europe now we have wonderful open borders which is a great thing for…every innocent person. But the bad guys are taking advantage of the open borders and are crossing them freely. But the police are not able to follow them because they are all national police and we don’t have European federal police force, which we obviously need,” he said.

“We got to swallow our nationalistic pride and be good federal Europeans,” he added.

Currently, police authorities are not coordinating because of national feelings across Europe; “We don’t want to be ruled by foreigners,” the MEP said.

The essential point though is that criminal gangs don’t worry where they are and are very effective working across borders, he explained.

As to who would have to pay for the new body, Newton Dunn said that it would actually “save an enormous amount of money.”

“If the [European] FBI even stops five percent of the cross border crime which isn’t being stopped at all at the moment, the FBI would easily pay for itself,” he said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.