Cyprus will have a role in a spy school being planned by the European Union after defence ministers of 25 EU member countries on Monday agreed on a joint EU intelligence school and 16 other new projects as part of their military pact.
The new projects, signed off by the defence ministers of all the EU’s member countries except Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) pact, range from improving training and facilities to boosting maritime operations and air systems, Politico reported.
The establishment of a joint EU spy school would be a big step forward for the bloc’s intelligence community, it said.
Until recently, a significant deepening of intelligence cooperation in the Union was blocked by the U.K., which viewed it as unwelcome competition to the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, made up of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain. With Brexit approaching, London no longer stands in the way, Politico added.
The proposal is for Greece to lead the academy, with help from Cyprus. In cooperation with NATO and the bloc’s intelligence and security services, the school will educate and train intelligence agency staffers around the EU, Politico said.
According to the official updated list of approved PESCO projects published on the EU’s website “the JEIS (Joint EU Intelligence School) in collaboration with member states, NATO CoEs, Intelligence and Security Services, will provide education and training in intelligence disciplines and other specific fields to EU member states intelligence personnel.”
Cyprus also has a role in the special operations force and the EU Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) Land Battlefield Missile Systems.
Greece will also take the lead in training helicopter crews to deal with so-called hot and high conditions with the programme also open to EU civilian aircrews.
France and Sweden will co-lead an EU Test and Evaluation Centre, which will work to strengthen cooperation among European test and operational evaluation centres.
Germany is slated to take the lead on a project to create a new generation of drones, expected by 2025. The European drones, known as medium-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted air systems, will be designed to conduct land and sea monitoring.
Italy will take charge of the development of a system to counter the threat of mini- and micro- unmanned drones, both in order to protect troops in action and for homeland defence.
Germany will also help lead a project that aims to enhance the French-German Tiger helicopters’ attacking and communications capabilities.
Estonia will head up a project aiming to create a modular unmanned ground system — a cybersecure and autonomous navigation system to facilitate route and mission planning.
France, meanwhile, will lead the EU Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) project, which aims to develop a new generation of medium-range BLOS Land Battlefield missile systems.
Italy will be charged with setting up a balloon-based intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platform project, called the European High Atmosphere Airship, which will provide constant surveillance from the sky.
The Czech Republic will lead an electronic warfare capability project, with the eventual aim of establishing a joint European electronic warfare force that is supposed to eventually support EU battle groups in the field.
France will take the lead on improving the sharing of military bases in Europe and overseas. France will also be responsible for the so-called EU radio navigation solution, which aims to develop European military positioning, navigation and timing capabilities taking advantage of Galileo, the EU’s global satellite navigation system.
Italy, assisted by France, will lead the project to develop an autonomous European military space surveillance awareness network (SSA) to respond to natural and human threats, according to the document.
Bulgaria will lead the so-called deployable modular underwater intervention capability package, also known as the Divepack, which aims to create a quick-reaction capability at sea and within inland bodies of water for special forces missions.
Greece will head up a project to develop deployable special forces to take part in small joint operations.
Austria will lead a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) surveillance project, which will establish a network that will monitor threats in order to support EU missions and protect troops from CBRN harm.
Germany will lead a project to improve coordination of geo-meteorological and oceanographic information-gathering by using big data and advanced analytics.