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European Union: Reorganization of Intelligence Service

(Mar. 2, 2010) Catharine Ashton, who is the newly appointed European Union High Representative for Foreign Security and Policy, is reportedly working on restructuring the EU's External Action Service (EAS). EAS is a diplomatic corps with 130 delegations in third countries and international organizations.

A central facet of the proposed reorganization of EAS is the merger of three offices, located in Brussels, whose main task is the gathering and sharing of intelligence information and data. The offices are the Council's two bureaus, the Joint Situation Center and the Watch-Keeping Capability, and the European Commission's Crisis Room.

The Joint Situation Center, otherwise known as SitCen, is staffed by 110 people and includes a cell of secret agents seconded from EU Members, whose chief missions are the gathering of classified information sent by Member States and the preparation of reports on security issues, such as terrorism and Iran's contact with other countries. SitCen reports are forwarded to all Member States. The Watch-Keeping Capability is composed of 12 people from the police and armed forces of the Member States and gathers data from the EU's police and military missions located in third countries. The European Commission's Crisis Room has a staff of six persons who are in charge of a website collecting data from 118 conflicts worldwide. It uses advanced scientific tools and software to scan TV broadcasts worldwide and to find quotes through searches using terms such as people's names.

Catharine Ashton is expected to present her proposal sometime in March 2010. (Andrew Rettman, EU Diplomats to Benefit from New Intelligence Hub, EUOBSERVER, Feb. 22, 2010, available at