Estonia and 22 other European countries signed an agreement in Zagreb on Wednesday to establish a cooperation platform for the exchange of information on wider activities of intelligence agencies.
The cooperation platform has been called the Intelligence College in Europe (ICE). Its purpose is to provide the opportunity to exchange and disseminate professional and academic views on a variety of intelligence-related topics to contribute to the development of a strategic intelligence culture in Europe, the ICE website states.
It also allows intelligence communities and national and European decision-makers, and citizens, to raise awareness about intelligence-related challenges and issues.
"Estonia joined this format to participate in the cooperation of the intelligence communities of European countries in accordance with the objectives of the Intelligence College in Europe," government spokesman Urmas Seaver told ERR.
ICE is not an intelligence exchange platform, but provides an opportunity for intelligence agencies in different countries to exchange information on broader issues such as Islamist or far-right terrorism, Islamic militants from European countries to Syria and cybersecurity.
The ICE, will launch in March and meet two to three times a year. It is not an EU body and won't have a static physical location. Instead, participating countries will — among other things — volunteer to host seminars bringing together academics, business leaders, sectoral experts and national intelligence agency workers to exchange experiences that could feed into decision-making across the Continent, Politico wrote.
The idea of creating ICE was put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron in his 2017 Sorbonne speech on the Future of Europe, in which he spoke about the need to strengthen local security structures and achieve greater independence in intelligence gathering.
The European Union External Action Service has a unit within the EU Military Staff that provides EEAS with information on military intelligence.
"The Estonian liaison office is the State Chancellery through the Office for Security and Defense Coordination," Seaver added.
Poland and Greece are expected to join as well the UK and Switzerland.
Editor: Helen Wright