Officials from 23 European countries met in Zagreb on Wednesday to sign a letter of intent to establish the Intelligence College in Europe (ICE), a new international institution proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron which will be based in Paris and will act as an academy for Europe's intelligence services.
"The Intelligence College is a tool for cooperation, and cooperation is the only way for Europe to remain safe and prosperous," the head of Croatia's Security and Intelligence Agency (SOA), Danijel Markic, told reporters after the meeting.
The College is billed as an institution designed to facilitate dialogue between Europe's intelligence community, political decision-makers, and the academic community.
Markic said that the idea to establish ICE came about as there is clearly a need for a better way of exchanging information at a strategic level, because of the diverse character of intelligence services used by various countries.
"Some of them are internal, some are external, some have policing powers, some don't. SOA itself is a hybrid service as it deals with both internal and external intelligence," Markic said.
The idea to form the Intelligence College was first floated by French President Emmanuel Macron in a speech at the Sorbonne in September 2017, when he said that there was a need to establish a kind of European intelligence academy where EU intelligence communities could converge through training, education, and exchange programmes.
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic described the Intelligence College as "a very good form of cooperation which is more open than usual in the intelligence community." He added that it would not serve for "operative cooperation," and that it would deal with "strategic issues, communication, and training" instead.
The Intelligence College will be based in Paris, but will organise various conferences and seminars in its member countries. Thirty countries, including all 27 EU member states, the United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland, have been invited to join the initiative.
To date, 22 EU member states and the UK have agreed to join the Intelligence College, while six other EU members (Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, Luxembourg, and Greece) have yet to join.