Labour MEP Wants British Spies Accountable to European Union

Labour MEP Wants British Spies Accountable to European Union

A Labour Member of the European Parliament is attempting to have Britain’s Intelligence Services placed under the purview of the European Union (EU), a new report on the back of the NSA scandal suggests.

A draft report by the European Parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, authored by Labour MEP Claude Moraes, reveals disturbing plans to suspend a key counter-terrorism agreement, and give the EU greater power over national intelligence services, including that of the United Kingdom.

The report published in January this year makes various recommendations, singling out the United Kingdom’s security services and their roles in recent mass surveillance activities orchestrated in part with the U.S. government. But instead of simply attempting to curtail such schemes, Labour MEPs and their partners in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats are recommending that Britain’s entire legal framework is overhauled in order to suit the EU. 

The document makes dozens of references to the current ‘undemocratic’ nature of having Britain’s security services accountable to the UK government, claiming that “international treaties and EU and US legislation, as well as national oversight mechanisms, have failed to provide for the necessary checks and balances and for democratic accountability”.

Labour MEP Claude Moraes proposes that the EU calls on “certain EU Member States, including the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, to revise where necessary their national legislation and practices governing the activities of intelligence services so as to ensure that they are in line with the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights”.

The EU — one of the least democratically accountable bureaucracies in the Western hemisphere — purports to be able to do better to protect the rights of European citizens. The report proposes the “setting up of a high-level group to strengthen cooperation in the field of intelligence at EU level” and “calls on the high-level group to set strict limits on the duration of any surveillance ordered unless its continuation is duly justified by the authorising/oversight authority”. 

These moves, alongside a various many other points raised in the report by the Labour MEP, would effectively see Britain’s intelligence services such as GCHQ, MI6, MI5 and other answerable to a higher authority within the European Union.

The report states that “democratic oversight of intelligence activities is still conducted at national level” and that this “results in insufficient and ineffective democratic scrutiny” — a nod towards the fact that many would prefer oversight to occur at an EU level, including, presumably, the author of the report and his political allies in the European Parliament.

But in assessing the capabilities of the European Union to “act” with regard to mass surveillance, the authors of the report themselves admit that “the EU has no competence in such matters… and therefore no action is possible at EU level.”

This is presented alongside other flaws in the EU intelligence regulation plan, such as the fact that such a system could damage Trans-Atlantic relationships, and that indeed Britain’s intelligence services are already accountable to a democratically elected government in Westminster.

Rory Broomfield, director of the eurosceptic ‘Better Off Out‘ campaign told Breitbart London: “The UK’s intelligence services should be accountable to the Home Secretary and to the UK Parliament. Their focus is to protect those living in Britain and they work with other agencies for this purpose. The EU has no right to meddle with this and dilute accountability.

“The British public deserve to know that they have a set of intelligence services that look out for their interests and not those of bureaucrats in Brussels. We also deserve to know that we have redress against these services through democratic bodies that look out for the UK’s national interests – not the interests of others,” Broomfield said.

It is also suggested that the European Union breaks off its existing Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP), assessed by British Members of Parliament to be “an extremely important tool in the global counter-terrorism effort, providing valuable contributions to numerous high profile cases”. The measure seems like a punitive move, potentially endangering the lives of Western citizens, as the EU seeks to punish the United States for its monitoring of EU citizens. 

The TFTP programme is thought to have played an integral role in the capture of Al Qaeda terrorists, the New York Times reported in 2006: 

“Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003”

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, a Conservative Party spokesman on Home Affairs in the European Parliament, said: “Labour MEPs are undermining Britain’s security services. By calling for new EU powers over UK intelligence, they risk making Britain less secure in a dangerous world.”

The report has already been referred to the European Parliament where it will be debated on next month. The draft will receive its first reading on March 11th 2014.