Seminar on Intelligence and Decision Making, Madrid

On September 19 and 20, 2023, the Seminar on Intelligence and Decision Making,
organized by the Intelligence College in Europe (ICE) and the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI) of Spain, took place at the José Ortega y Gasset-Gregorio Marañón Foundation (FOM) in Madrid.

The seminar was inaugurated by the Secretary of State Director of the CNI, Esperanza Casteleiro, and had the participation of the Secretary General of the CNI himself, Arturo Relanzón, and that of different European Intelligence Services, managers of the public and private sector, heads of office and senior officials of several European security institutions and academics from different countries.

The participation of prestigious academic staff and private companies favored the plurality of points of view and enriched the dialogue, achieving a much broader and more valuable vision of the needs of Intelligence consumers. The level of representation of some of the highest EU clients of Intelligence has helped bringing in interesting feedbacks and points of view, in many cases different from the national points of view. To be noted, also, the active and dynamic presence of both EU SATCEN and EU INTCEN’s directors, who have helped the attendees to better understand the relations between national and European decision-makers on one side and the degree of intelligence support given to the EU institutions on the other side.

The selected attendees were managers coming from both the European intelligence & security community and from the European civil society, be them Academics working in the field of European affairs, Defence, Intelligence and security or EU officials.

During the seminar, issues of foresight and strategy were analysed, taking into account different angles, with a specific focus on the technological (including the impact of AI) and the psychological ones. In a second time, the precise added value of Intelligence for decision making was discussed, insisting on the challenges created by the multiplication of information sources, very often generating more noise and confusion than clarity.

Then, the issue of the relationship between intelligence producers and consumers was addressed thoroughly. Most of the interventions, both from the roundtable panels and from the attendees, were insisting on the need of creating a sense of trust and reliability and on the importance of a sound feedback between consumers and producers. It encourages endorsing a more open and dynamic dialogue between both parties and reinforcing intelligence and security culture, especially inside the European institutions.

This seminar established itself in a specific line of events and seminars intended to dig in on how to provide a better service to the decision makers. In this sense, it could be seen as complementing the joint Egmont Institute and Belgian intelligence community’s seminar on “How to implement Strategic Issues in the Intelligence work” that took place in May/June this year.

New lines of effort

While opening this high level Seminar, the Spanish Secretary of State has insisted on the need to go forward in terms of relations between the Intelligence sector and the European decision-makers, before detailing the role ICE could play in reinforcing the needed common intelligence and security culture. Mrs Esperanza Casteleiro, then, concluded by presenting the new axis of developments of the next, Spanish, ICE Presidency.

In particular, she stated “The ICE allows us to show at European level the efficient collaboration among the Services, counting on the collaboration of academics and researchers. In this sense, I think it is very important to inform the citizens of the European Union about the added value provided by the Services Intelligence to their freedom and well-being.

ICE also aims to be an instrument for enhance the knowledge of Intelligence Services by young people. Youth will be responsible for the future of Europe, so it is crucial they can recognize Intelligence as one of the main guarantors of the security and European values.

It will also be essential to emphasize the role of women in the field of intelligence.

Spain (…) has supported the College from the very beginning and has actively participated in all its initiatives.

During the next year 2024 Spain will assume the presidency of the College of Intelligence in Europe. We will try to prioritize dialog between the European Intelligence community and the decision-making authorities, showing the efficient collaboration existing among the various European Intelligence Services, as well as the importance of the Academia. It is a question of whether decision-makers know the value of Intelligence, or whether it is lost in the enormous amount of information they receive every day. It is also a question of involving the decision-maker in the Intelligence elaboration processes. At the end, it is a question of improving the understanding between producers and consumers. It is time to push the dialog between the community European Intelligence and the decision-makers, to encourage a culture of intelligence that promotes to have an Intelligence more useful and timely.

The collaboration among the Services is close, exhaustive and old. (…) there is no awareness of such extensive collaboration between the Services. The College is the first Service Forum to be born with the aim of showing this existing collaboration.

Although national security is the exclusive competence of States, as provided for in the Treaty on European Union, cooperation in the field of Intelligence extends to the Union, whose institutions receive Intelligence from the various services through INTCEN. It can be assured that the Intelligence Services are fully involved in strengthening the value of Intelligence in the European Union.

Likewise, Intelligence Services need that the value of Intelligence is taken into account by European institutions, so that the tools and methods for the elaboration of Intelligence were understood and preserved. Privacy and security should not be exclusionary.”