Cablegate: Inaugural Session of the U.S.-Eu Policy Dialogue

Published: Mon 3 May 2004 12:12 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. Summary. The inaugural meeting of the new Policy
Dialogue on Border and Transport Security April 26 addressed
biometrics, the US-VISIT and Visa Waiver Programs, the joint
initiative on lost and stolen passports, "flights of concern"
and air marshals. Newly appointed Counter-terrorism
coordinator De Vries reviewed the March 25 Council
Declaration on Combating Terrorism, and the Irish Presidency
undertook to produce a first draft of a US-EU CT Statement
for the June Summit. The group agreed to meet once per EU
presidency and also on an ad hoc basis if circumstances
warrant. The wide-ranging joint press briefing received wide
and positive media attention. End Summary.
2. Comment: The U.S. objective for this new group was to
establish a forum where the issues of transport and border
security could be addressed at a policy level. Current JHA
discussions address these issues in an unsatisfactory way.
The inaugural meeting successfully discussed a wide range of
issues without getting "down in the weeds". Working-level
experts from the Directorates of Transport, Markets, Justice
and Home Affairs (JHA) and External Relations were present,
demonstrating an EU effort to avoid "stove-piping" its
handling of these issues. The principals on both sides
promised to use this new mechanism to alert each other to
problems or initiatives on the horizon, such as CAPPS II.
The robust USG participation in this first meeting signaled
to the EU that we take this new high-level dialogue seriously
and want it to succeed. To reinforce this message, we
suggest the next meeting be held in Washington during the
Dutch Presidency. End comment.
Press Coverage
3. The media replayed the positive messages from the joint
press briefing by U/S Hutchinson and Faull. Two contentious
issues -- the sharing of air passenger data with third
countries and sky marshals on European flights of concern --
were widely portrayed as resolved. The press gave prominent
attention to Hutchinson's public flexibility on sky marshals,
citing his comment that "we will not make the demand when
that is not workable in an EU state" and "alternative
security measures" were available. The press briefing made a
strong visual statement on US-EU transport and border
security cooperation to the 50 media reps in attendance.
EU Council Declaration on CT
4. EU Co-chair JHA Director General Jonathan Faull noted
that the March 25 Council Declaration on Combating Terrorism,
issued following the Madrid bombings, described a wide range
of activities within the EU, and demonstrated that the
purpose of the EU in the fight against terrorism has been
reinforced at all levels. The Declaration signaled the unity
of the EU in this important area. Newly-named EU
Counter-terrorism Coordinator De Vries said this new dialogue
was assisting the Union in pushing implementation of the
Declaration's initiatives and programs both at the national
level and externally with third countries. U/S Hutchinson
responded that the U.S. wants to enhance its cooperation with
the EU in all areas, and that this new policy forum can play
a useful role in this effort. He thanked the EU for
concluding the U.S.-EU Agreement on Passenger Name Records
(PNR) and the recently-signed agreement on Container Security
EU-US Summit Statement on Combating Terrorism
5. EUR PDAS Ries reported that a recent White House Summit
planning meeting was impressed with the Council Declaration,
commended its "holistic" approach to the issue, and noted it
contained much substance for both current and potential
cooperation. He said we were working on an outline for a
possible statement for the June Summit keyed to the Strategic
Objectives listed in the Declaration Annex and hoped to have
an outline ready to discuss at the May 6 Task Force meeting.
Paul Hickey of the Irish Justice Department said the
Presidency was working on its own draft statement for
discussion at the May 6 Task Force meeting.
Data Protection
6. Faull announced that JHA is working on a set of data
protection rules for law enforcement and security purposes
which will hopefully be ready in June and proposed to the
Council in the June/July timeframe. The new Parliament will
have to decide whether the proposal is satisfactory. He
hopes the document will be finalized by the end of the year.
Asked whether the current drafting process is open for
discussion, Faull responded that JHA would welcome our views
when the document is presented to the Council and made public.
7. Both sides agreed on the need to overcome technical and
legal issues which affect incorporating biometrics in travel
documents. Faull said that if the political process went as
expected, measures would be in place by the end of 2005 to
begin issuing biometric passports. The EU will add digitized
images in visas by 2006 and fingerprints in visas by 2007.
Faull noted there is still public relations work ahead to
inform EU citizens what biometrics are, why they are
necessary, and how they will be used by authorities. U/S
Hutchinson welcomed the EU's decision on fingerprints and
said that DHS is working hard to ensure that the expansion of
US-VISIT to include VWP travelers
does not delay procedures at points-of-entry.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
8. Faull urged the U.S. "to think again about ways to treat
all EU countries the same way in the foreseeable future." He
acknowledged Washington-based difficulties by noting that an
expansion of the VWP list was not expected to take place
immediately nor that all ten needed to gain status
simultaneously. Faull said that the EU's own certification
process regarding Schengen border standards would be done on
a country-by-country basis. U/S Hutchinson said that the
U.S. would soon begin conducting reviews of current VWP
members and would be interested in seeing the results of the
relevant countries' Schengen certification. He said the U.S.
was also considering other ways to facilitate international
travel. DAS Jacobs stated the U.S. was aware of the enormous
interest in expanding VWP and noted that the requirements
were set in legislation. (Note: In a separate briefing to
JHA officials she described the requirements and process for
adding new countries to VWP. End note.)
US-EU Initiative on Lost and Stolen Passports
9. Faull welcomed the U.S. decision to work through Interpol
on sharing lost/stolen passport data. He said that the April
29 JHA Council invited the Commission to make a formal
proposal. Hutchinson noted that prompt reporting on lost and
stolen passports was an important criterion for VWP status.
Visa Data Exchange
10. DAS Jacobs mentioned that State is developing a pilot
exchange on lookout information and said that the U.S. would
submit a written proposal to the EU within a month. (Note:
This could be formally presented during Commissioner
Vitorino's May visit to Washington. End Note.)
Flights of Concern/Armed Law Enforcement Officers
--------------------------------------------- ----
11. U/S Hutchinson noted that the U.S. learned a great deal
in December and January from the emergency measures it had to
implement on certain flights from the UK and France. The
U.S. worked bilaterally with the member state governments to
work through the emergency. Some flights had to be
cancelled. The U.S. now seeks to work with carriers.
Intelligence on threats to aviation might include specific
flights and times, but the U.S. also received credible
threats without reference to a time. In one instance, the
threat against a particular flight extended over two months,
making cancellation of that particular flight impossible.
There are a number of measures, short of cancellation, that
can be taken to mitigate the threat on a flight of concern.
U/S Hutchinson saw the assignment of armed law enforcement
officers to flights of concern as a particularly helpful
deterrent to air terrorism but respected the alternative
views of some in Europe and did not wish to dictate a
response. In light of the reservations expressed by some
foreign governments, the U.S. hoped for international
standards on addressing flights of concern. DHS was willing
to work with Europe on measures that could be put into place
in lieu of posting law enforcement officers on flights. The
topic would benefit from international discussion to develop
a security approach that includes alternatives.
12. Hickey noted that member states were interested in a
coordinated response in the area, and had planned to address
the question in ICAO where members would discuss the issue in
May. The Commission was looking at the scope of the proposed
guidelines. Commission Head of Unit for Transport Security
Eckard Seebohm welcomed Hutchinson,s willingness to reach an
international consensus and look at alternatives to posting
marshals. A few member states had reservations about air
marshals, but cancellation of a flight should be seen as a
last resort. Hutchinson added that without International
protocols, states would likely disagree on measures to be
taken. He added that the December and January delays were
due in large part to the need to vet passenger manifest
lists, underscoring the importance of advanced passenger data
systems. PNR will provide a new tool to better manage
aviation security. Hickey suggested the U.S. and EU wait to
see what decisions are taken in the ICAO context.
Rail Security
13. U/S Hutchinson noted that EU nations were already
working to secure rail travel. In the U.S., rail and
specifically mass transit security is often categorized as a
local government issue, but the Department of Homeland
Security has taken a number of steps to secure the sector.
It was looking at screening methods for rail passengers that
would necessarily differ from the current aviation model. It
was also developing explosive detection technology applicable
to rail. In the policy arena, DHS would develop a federal
baseline for aviation security so that when threats appear, a
datum line exists to build upon. U/S Hutchinson said that
the U.S. would be interested in technical exchanges with the
EU based on the EU's experience. Seebohm noted that a
technical subgroup of the U.S.-EU Transportation Security
Coordination Group (TSCG) between DG TREN and the TSA could
address the mass transit/rail issue. Hutchinson agreed that
this forum was the appropriate venue for discussion.
14. Commission PNR negotiator Susan Binns said that while
much of the work on the PNR "adequacy finding" and
"international agreement" was complete, the Commission would
follow up on Secretary Ridge,s letter on PNR data transfers
to third countries. She added that while the Commission and
Council had decided to approve the adequacy finding and
international agreement despite the Parliament,s request to
the Court of Justice, the Commission would welcome a cautious
approach by the U.S. in its public statements on the matter
as there were still some minor matters that had to be
attended to.
15. U/S Hutchinson said that DHS would not move forward on
the CAPPS II system without thorough testing, and it could
not successfully test without access to a significant volume
of data. DHS was currently working to secure such data.
Participants and Future Work of the Dialogue
16. DHS U/S Asa Hutchinson, DOJ Deputy A/AG Bruce Swartz and
EUR PDAS Charlie Ries launched the new US-EU Policy Dialogue
on Border and Transport Security on April 26. They were
joined by DHS Director of Cargo and Trade Policy Elaine
Dezenski, S/CT Deputy William Pope and CA/VO DAS Janice
Jacobs, The EU was represented by Justice and Home Affairs
(JHA) DG Jonathan Faull, External Relations Deputy DG
Fernando Valenzuela, newly-named EU Counter-Terrorism
Coordinator Gijsbert De Vries, Paul Hickey of the Irish
Justice Department, and Council Secretariat JHA Director
Gilles de Kerchove. The two sides agreed to meet once per EU
presidency and also on an ad hoc basis as circumstances
warrant. They also agreed that this new group would be
flexible in its composition and scope, and not duplicate any
existing group in the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA).
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