08 Jan 2014

Who will monitor the spies?

Sergio Carrera / Elspeth Guild / Joanna Parkin

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A majority of national governments across the EU have long tried to cordon off their practices of mass interception of communications data and cyber-hacking of foreign companies and diplomats from supranational scrutiny by the EU institutions and courts, arguing that they remain within the remit of their ‘exclusive competence’ on grounds of national security. In light of the revelations that some EU member states (namely the UK, France, Germany and Sweden) are running their own secret interception programmes, however, the question of whether the EU can and should intervene becomes more pressing. This commentary, by a team of JHA specialists at CEPS, offers four important legal reasons why the covert surveillance programmes of member states should not be regarded as falling outside the scope of EU intervention.

Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs research programme at CEPS; Elspeth Guild is Senior Associate Research Fellow in the Justice and Home Affairs research programme at CEPS; and Joanna Parkin is a Researcher, Justice and Home Affairs section, CEPS.