IT is unlikely that today's emergency meeting in Brussels on intelligence sharing within the European Union will achieve anything worthwhile. The Irish government, which currently holds the presidency of the EU Council, called the meeting following the Madrid train bombings and has tabled a proposal for “the appointment of a security co-ordinator to enhance co-operation between EU bodies and third countries and streamline activities in the fight against terrorism”. Dublin probably wanted to show that it was not complacent about the present state of intelligence sharing in the EU; it might have done better, however, to explore the possibilities a little before calling a meeting which, whatever its concluding communique may say, will simply expose both the unwillingness of countries such as Britain, France and Germany to share their information with others and the inefficiency of the intelligence services of several others.
THERE is not even likely to be any agreement on where the security co-ordinator proposed by Ireland would sit and to whom he or she would report. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy representative who reports to the Council of Ministers, believes that a similar arrangement would be appropriate for a security co-ordinator; but Romano Prodi, President of the EU Commission, thinks that any such post should be established within the Commission's structure. Normally when there is a turf dispute of this kind the EU's solution is to appoint two people and hope they will find ways of talking to each other. Such a solution in this case would, of course, be ridiculous. The truth of the matter is that if intelligence and security services cannot co-operate fully within their own countries, as is often the case, it is highly unlikely that they will readily share information with the 24 other members of the European Union.