22 November 1998
Source: http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/Sunday-Times/frontpage.html?3032847. Thanks to EM.
UK The Sunday Times, 22 November 1998
by Stephen Grey and John Goetz Bonn
THE name's Bond, Euro Bond: the German government is drawing up plans for a European Union spy agency as part of a proposed "harmonisation" of Europe's intelligence services.
British intelligence is wary of becoming too intimate with foreign bodies such as the BND, Germany's accident-prone foreign security service. But as the EU moves towards the development of a common foreign and security policy, Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, has started pressing for agents and facilities to be shared.
"I simply see a common intelligence service as a part of the logic of the development of Europe," said Ernst Uhrlau, the former Hamburg police chief appointed to oversee Germany's intelligence services under Schröder.
"After the common currency, the goal for us is much stronger integration," he said. "If Europe is to find its own identity and assert its strength, then it needs its own intelligence assets."
British sources point out that many military secrets are already shared between Nato allies. Intelligence officials are also involved in the new Europol police agency, based in Holland, with close co-operation to combat terrorism and drug smuggling.
This does not go far enough for Bonn. In recent international crises, including those in Kosovo and the Gulf, continental European countries have often had to rely on whatever intelligence America has chosen to provide. The Germans worry that this puts London, which has a special intelligence-sharing arrangement with Washington, in a privileged position.
However, Washington is thought to be unwilling to trust French and German agencies with sensitive information, such as any detail that might blow the cover of an agent in the field.
In recent months Germany has drawn up a series of agreements to exchange secret information with France. A joint network of listening posts in the Dordogne, French Guiana and New Caledonia, is used by both powers to tap into telecommunications satellites, including those carrying American phone calls.
The Franco-German network aims to rival the system run by Britain's communication headquarters, GCHQ, at Cheltenham, in co-operation with America's National Security Agency, which maintains a listening facility at Menwith Hill, in North Yorkshire.
However, demands for a common agency may be too much for Germany's allies, even the French. "There will certainly be warm interest in expanding co-operation with the Germans," said an intelligence source in Paris. "But any talk of combining our services will be regarded as premature in France."
Britain is expected to be even cooler. Feelings towards the French, in particular, will only have been worsened by a Paris court's refusal last week to extradite David Shayler, the renegade MI5 agent.
"German foreign intelligence, the BND, has been one of the most penetrated spy services in the world," said a British security source. "The French security services have also been highly penetrated. And they have been routinely involved in assassinations and undercover wars in Africa, not to mention blowing up the [Greenpeace boat] Rainbow Warrior, which would never be acceptable in Britain."
Rupert Allason, the intelligence expert, said history should not be forgotten. "We fought two world wars to prevent German involvement in a pan-European security apparatus and we will certainly not accept anything even vaguely like it now," he said.
Note: For a description of the French ECHELON and intelligence sharing with Germany, see the "Espionnage: Les Français aussi écoutent leurs alliés," in the French journal "Le Point," Number 1342, 6 June 1998. It does not appear to be online; if so, a pointer would be appreciated. An English translation would be especially welcome. Thanks to CM.