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Individual analysis articles written by SECURITY EUROPE

EU leaders’ decisions augur big developments for European defence policy, with wider implications for other sectors as well

By PATRICK STEPHENSON and BROOKS TIGNER, BRUSSELS – After decades of procrastination, national leaders at their 22-23 June summit here took decisions that now set the stage for the EU’s entry into the defence field, though any talk of an imminent “European” army is fantasy. Nonetheless, important policy proposals by the European Commission were approved. The member states themselves finally agreed to finance their diverse battlegroups to boost the EU’s common security and defence policy (CSDP), for example, while approving plans – far more radical – to allow self-selected EU countries to shift into “permanent structured cooperation” (PESCO) in defence. But these were just some of the approved measures. An interesting coda to these decisions will be their impact on the EU’s...

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EU struggling to connect the criminal dots across the “dark web”

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – Policymakers and experts tracking cyber-crime gathered in Brussels on 20 to discuss European policing in the digital era and to hear about the latest criminal developments. The news was not encouraging. Rob Wainwright, Europol’s departing director, started off the debate by describing the results of a transatlantic sting launched in late 2016 that dismantled a huge international criminal infrastructure platform known as Avalanche. A stunning testament to organised crime’s increasingly automated and industrial nature, Avalanche launched botnet-led malware cyberattacks that caused EUR 6 million of losses in Germany, and hundreds of millons of euros worldwide. Yet in the operation that took it down, only five individuals were arrested. “We had 3600 organised crime groups in Europe three years ago,” he said. “Now we have 5000.” The main take-away of the debate: that...

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The politics and underlying reality of migration not looking good

By PATRICK STEPHENSON, BRUSSELS – On 4 July the BBC reported that many migrants relocated to the three Baltic countries have disappeared. The report claimed that, of 349 asylum seekers sent to Lithuania via the European Commission’s relocation programme for example, 248 left the country as soon as they received official refugee status. The UK news service speculated that the missing migrants may have left for west European countries where living stipends for refugees are greater, and family and community ties stronger. EU insiders disputed the BBC report, asserting that its numbers were misleading. But the fact remains that refugees vote with their feet, meaning their movements show the strains on the EU’s migration policy. In the east, the so-called Visegrad 4 – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – remain determined to accept no more migrants. As of mid-June, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had, in total, accepted the grand sums of 12 and 16 migrants respectively, from Greece. They have accepted none from Italy. The main EU focus now lies not in...

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Eastern European energy security: what is the Russian factor?

By JOSEPH CANTU, with PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – Recently, Eastern European reliance on Russian natural gas has dominated security discussions as a way Russia could extend its influence into the EU. While US liquid natural gas (LNG) imports pour into the new Polish LNG terminal at Świnoujście, the US Senate in June threatened to impose sanctions against the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline expansion, which would transit Russian gas under the Baltic Sea to German consumers. Many German politicians denounced the proposed sanctions, which have yet to be approved by the US House of Representatives. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has also criticised Nord Stream II, saying it does not serve “the best European interest”. Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission for energy policy, agreed. Nord Stream II has the “potential to have a negative effect on Central and Eastern Europe… and it could have a devastating effect on Ukraine.” Getting a clear picture of the issue is not easy, given...

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Can private-sector trust hackers who trade black for white hat?

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – The WannaCry ransomware attacks in May 2017 disabled hundreds of thousands of computers across more than 150 countries, even hitting hospitals in the United Kingdom. But the attack would have been far worse had a single 22-year-old cybersecurity researcher not crippled the unfolding attack by registering a domain name, an act that proved to be a ‘kill switch’ for the spreading malware. The expert did not understand what he was doing when he did it, but his expertise stopped the attacks far more quickly than institutional forces such as the police ever could. But what about...

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EU charts course for more cooperation in online counterterrorism

By MAX METZNER and OKSANA TRIFONOVA, with BROOKS TIGNER , BRUSSELS – The WannaCry ransomware cryptoworm attacks in May raises two fundamental questions regarding the safety of classified information. How do policymakers ensure international cyber-safety in the technological era, and what steps should be taken to deter and prevent cyberattacks before the damage is done? During a recent talk in Brussels on the EU’s Security Union, a senior European Commission official laid out the priorities and next steps. “Three critical factors need to be emphasized when dealing with cyber security, especially as it relates to fighting terrorism transparency, traceability, and accountability,” said the official. “On counterterrorism, we are working around two fronts. The first is to...

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Update on tenders and calls-for-proposals in EU security (19/07/2017)

1. Multiple framework contract for services related to evaluation and impact assessment of the European Commission’s humanitarian aid and civil protection activities The framework contract will cover all kinds of evaluation-related studies (prospective, retrospective, real-time, ‘ex ante’ (prospective) impact assessments, or any combination of them), referring to ECHO’s activities, including the development of related methodological tools. The contractors will be …

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EU Security Research Projects Awarded (19/07/2017)

NEWLY AWARDED PROJECTS: InvizBox Go 4G – Security and Privacy, Everywhere The annual cost of cybercrime is estimated to reach nearly EUR 3 trillion by 2019 and the value of the cyber security market will hit EUR 100 billion. Across the EU, 68 percent of Internet users say they are concerned about identity theft. InvizBox Go 4G provides an innovative …

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Upcoming European security conferences & exhibits (19/07/2017)

Here are some upcoming events related to European civil security we think readers should be aware of: Frontex ‘Industry Day’ on Maritime Analysis Tools 7 September 2017, Madrid, Spain 4th Annual Conference on Big Data Analytics and Data Mining 7-8 September 2017, Paris, France Fifth Consultation Forum for Sustainable Energy in the Defence and Security Sector 19 September 2017, Thessaloniki, …

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On crime, European Investigation Order promises progress, while also posing problems

By PATRICK STEPHENSON , BRUSSELS – As criminals and terrorists refine and expand their transnational networks, European police operations have remained frustratingly national, particularly for obtaining evidence regarding cross-border investigations. Even in terrorism cases, police cooperation between European member states can be fraught with jurisdictional issues, legal differences and communication problems. To streamline the transfer of evidence from one EU nation to another, the EU created the European Investigation Order (EIO) in 2014. Its purpose: to simplify and standardise cooperation between judicial authorities, speed up investigations and thus help prevent crimes and terrorist attacks before they happen. The directive officially entered force on 22 May 2017 and the European Commission is now evaluating how the member states have transposed the EIO into national law. So far, the verdict is...

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