A House of Lords Committee report spotlights the vital contribution the EU makes to UK security and urges swift action to implement European Union proposals to improve security in the UK and other Member States.
The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs said that the European Commission’s plans for implementing the EU's Internal Security Strategy could raise standards among Member States and enhance the EU's security as a whole.
The committee says that the five objectives covered by the Commission's proposals are sensible, practical and achievable. Of these, improving cyber-security is most urgent. Large scale cyber-attacks closed part of the EU Emissions Trading System for over 3 months during the course of the inquiry; the UK should be helping the EU institutions improve their cyber-security. The committee says more funding will be needed for the Commission’s proposed new Cybercrime Centre, and that Europol should take responsibility for the Centre rather than establishing a separate agency.
The committee was struck by the lack of structure and coordination amongst at least 14 separate Council working groups and other bodies charged with aspects of internal security. It warns that this "excessive" bureaucracy will make it very hard to make the strategy work and says that the new Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) should take the lead. Other groups should be rationalised or disbanded. The Government should be helping in that task.
The report also says that the EU needs to do more to develop effective border controls, and that the armed forces' contribution to disaster response and relief should be incorporated in further plans.
Commenting on the report, Lord Hannay of Chiswick, Chairman of the Home Affairs Sub-Committee, said:
"The security of the UK does not begin or end at the water's edge. The EU Communication is a valuable contribution to UK security, and the Government should support the Commission in taking forward its proposals. In particular it must recognise the need for additional funding for the new Cybercrime Centre, and help other Member States and the EU institutions in improving their own cyber-security, since all are interdependent, and overall security depends on the weakest link.
The ISS will succeed only if COSI is allowed to do its job properly. It will then enable the EU to play a valuable role in helping protect the security of its citizens."