SREL — “enormous need for reform,” says Juncker

At a hearing of the Luxembourg secret service enquiry commission on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said that there was an “enormous need for reform” of the SREL, especially in regards to political control mechanisms.

It was the second time that Juncker was being heard by the commission, with an emphasis on the reform and future of the secret service.

Juncker commented that the reform, foreseen in the 2009 government programme, dealt with a variety of issues, from smaller modifications in terms of phrasing to larger questions, such as the definition of the word “extremism”.

Juncker said that the core mission of the secret service was to prevent or contain unconstitutional phenomena, presenting a danger for democracy and the rule of law. Domestic political espionage is to be excluded under the new law.

Another aspect to be addressed by the reform is the collaboration of Luxembourg’s ministries and the exchange of information between the SREL and the state institutions, such as the parliament and the judiciary. In the area of political control there was an “enormous need for reform”, Juncker said.

He commented that political control was simply not possible in an adequate way due to a lack of staff and coordination between ministries, administrations and the parliament control commission. A central point of the reform foresees that the Prime Minister receives an “intelligence officer”, who stands in contact with the SREL, various services and the Premier.

Juncker concluded that proportionality, subsidiarity and traceability of intelligence methods should be the guiding principles of the secret service and its activities.

However, the enquiry commission remained critical, questioning how it could be avoided that members of the secret service act on their own behalf and go rogue.

The commission is set to meet again this week, while its final report is expected for mid-July.