Brooks Tigner reports today on a trend weâ€™ve discussed here on a few occasions: The Europeans are more comfortable with homeland security than we give them credit for. The Brits have their “civil” security, the Swedes have coined “societal” security, and even NATO has long owned a â€œcivilian emergency planningâ€ capability. Tigner identifies what he calls “the proliferation” of EU actors, institutions, and decision-makers in civil security across the EUâ€™s institutional map, which has promptedÂ a familiar debate across the Atlantic: Should the array of Homeland Security-related entities be streamlined?
To be sure, streamlining is different from the perennial practice of â€œreorganizationâ€ that we engage in on this side of the Pond. The Lisbon Treaty elevated justice and home affairs decisions to EU-level.Â More than a dozen of the European Commission’s (EC) 23 directorates general (DGs) have some civil security policy jurisdiction. Streamlining efforts may result in reducing the number of directly involved DGs or in the appointment of a single DG to have overall responsibility.
The ECâ€™s foreign affairs and security/defense portfolios will be handled by a single position. That new â€œHigh Representativeâ€ will operate as part of the EC that proposes policy and as a member of the European Council that approves policy.Â Now thatâ€™s streamlining.Â If its wise remains to be seen.
Top priorities in the justice and home affairs agenda resemble issues here. Tigner points out a few, including border patrol and immigration issues, judicial and police operations, critical infrastructure protection, visa and passport procedures, counterterrorism efforts and the fight against organized crime.
Another development to watch is the French thought leadership on this topic. The French government plans to issue a white paper on security and defense this spring. How much of this topic the paper will address is unknown, but it will surely gain attention when France assumes the EU presidency in July.