(Aug. 30, 2011) In May 2011, an agreement was signed between the European Union and Serbia in an effort to strengthen security cooperation between the two partners. The agreement is designed to establish security procedures for exchanging classified information and to facilitate and expedite the exchange of that information. On August 23, 2011, the agreement was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (2011 O.J. (216) 2).
The agreement was initiated because of Serbia's wish to participate in the peace-keeping and military operations of the EU. It is anticipated that it will also assist Serbia, as an EU candidate, to integrate with the EU's common foreign and security policy. The EU has signed a number of similar agreements with other countries, including Albania, Brazil, Croatia, China, and the United States. (European Union and Serbia Sign the Agreement on Serbia's Participation in EU Security and Defence Missions, The Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia website, (last visited Aug. 29, 2011).)
The agreement defines “classified” information as any information or material that meets the following two requirements: a) it bears a classification marking, and b) it is determined by either party to require protection because its unauthorized disclosure could damage or harm the interests of the EU, one of its Member States, or Serbia.
The two parties undertake to protect classified information and to ensure an equivalent level of protection for each other's information. In particular, each party is obliged to ensure that classified information:
- bears the security classification marking indicated by the other party and that it is not downgraded or declassified without the prior knowledge and consent of the other party;
- is not used for purposes other than intended;
- is not disclosed to another party or to an EU institution not mentioned in this agreement (that is, institutions other than the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the General Secretariat of the Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, and the European Commission);
- is not accessed by individuals who lack security clearance; and
is kept in a secure place. (Id. art. 5.)
In order to provide an equivalent level of protection to classified information, the two parties are required to ensure that they put in place security arrangements among the following three designated authorities:
the Office of the Council for National Security and Protection for Classified Information for Serbia;
the Security Office of the General Secretariat of the Council for Classified Information for the EU; and
the European Commission Security Directorate for the European Commission. (Id. art. 12.)
The above-listed competent authorities are obliged to inform each other of any case, either suspected or proven, in which classified information has been lost, accessed by unauthorized individuals, or disclosed to unauthorized persons. Following a complete investigation of such a case, each party must provide a report to the other on the findings. (Id. art. 13.)
This agreement has no effect on other existing agreements, other arrangements between the two parties, or other arrangements between Serbia and the EU Members. Any interpretation issues or questions arising from application of this agreement will be handled through negotiations. (Id. arts. 15 & 16.)