Statewatch News online: EU security research strategy - List of "personalities" but how much power should they have?

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EU security research agenda
List of "personalities" but how much power should they have?
- Did the Commission simply reproduce the recommendations of the "Group of Personalities" in its Communication?

Thanks to Intelligence online a list of the "Group of Personalities" (GOP), who are advising the European Commission on the security research agenda, is available, see: List of the "Group of Personalities" (link). The list includes two Commissioners, Busquin (DG Research) and Liikanen (DG Information Society), plus as Observers Chris Patten (Commissioner for External Relations) and Pascal Lamy (Commissioner for Trade), and Mr Solana from the Council of the European Union. It is surprising that Commissioner Vittorino (DG Justice and Home Affairs) is not involved as a number of key topics, like "enhancing surveillance of land and sea borders" and "biometrics, automatic chips with positioning" to track the movement of "goods and persons", are listed.

In addition there are eight multinational companies (including BAE and Siemens) and seven "research" institutions (including the Rand Corporation). The military is well represented by Lord Robertson from NATO (ex head of NATO), the EU Military Committee and the Western European Armaments Organisation. Each has an assigned "sherpa" (an imperialist term for the people who do the real work).

See Statewatch's first report: EU: Security research programme: Report and documentation

The GOP held its first meeting in Brussels on 6 October 2003 and will submit its conclusions in the "spring of 2004". A factsheet produced by the Commission (MEMO/03/192, 7.10.03) says the GOP will only meet twice and give "guidance" for the "European Security Research Agenda". The factsheet notes that the US Department of Homeland Security will have a budget of $1 billion on 2004 and that US defence spending will be $58.6 billion, and that: "the EU is at risk of becoming more dependent and vulnerable in this essential area".

Another Note from the Commission posted on 10 October 2003 says that:

"Its [the GOP] recommendations will be included in a Communication to be presented by the Commission by the end of 2003"

This is a reference to the Communication produced on 3 February 2004: COM 72 (full-text, pdf). This Communication states that the GOP will:

"prepare a policy oriented report... that will be the subject of a Commission Communication foreseen for Spring 2004"

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The role of the "Group of Personalities" in the Commission's Communication is unclear. Did the Commission simply reproduce the "recommendations" of the GOP's first report? If they did it would be most improper and unconstitutional.

It is the job of the Commission to produce Communications the subject of which may be the recommendations of an external group but the Communication itself must represent the views of the Commission, not those of an unaccountable group.

Will the "recommendations" of the GOP's final report be the "subject" of a Commission Communication or will they be simply transposed and legitimated by supporting arguments?"

See Statewatch's first report: EU: Security research programme to look at creating "smart" biometric documents which will "locate,identify and follow the movement of persons" through "automatic chips with positioning": Report and documentation
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