A broad range of activities to protect the country
In order to effectively counter terrorism, espionnage or cyber-attacks, the work of intelligence services is crucial. To meet the dangers that threaten our society, our need to expand our knowledge and ability to anticipate threats is greater than ever.
The State Intelligence Service (Service de Renseignement de l'Etat, or SRE) is one of Luxembourg's security policy agencies. It is responsible for detecting threats to national security at an early stage, before they take concrete form. This watching brief provides political decision-makers with a continuous assessment of the country's security situation. It also provides other parts of Luxembourg's security infrastructure with the information that enables them to take action in their respective fields at the appropriate moment.
The SRE carries out investigations designed to collect information to help prevent and counter threats relating to terrorism, espionage, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyber-attacks. It processes, analyses and assesses information and shares its analysis with both national and international partners. International co-operation contributes to a better overall understanding of the situation and thus helps to strengthen national security.
The terrorist threat remains high in Europe. It constitutes a threat to our society and democratic values.
International co-operation is critical to addressing this threat. Identifying and dismantling terrorist networks in Europe stems from ever closer collaboration between intelligence services that increasingly extends beyond the exchange of information into operational matters. For example, in Europe security service agents exchange intelligence in real time and develop strategies together to combat specific threats. Multilateral co-operation has led to terrorists being arrested and the thwarting of planned attacks.
At national level, the SRE co-operates on an ongoing basis with the judicial authorities, the police, the High Commission for National Protection (Haut-Commissariat à la Protection Nationale, or HCPN) and other agencies, including involvement in regular meetings of the Counter-terrorism Co-ordination Group (GCT) chaired by the HCPN.
Intelligence gathered by the SRE through its mission to counter the terrorist threat can lead to a communication to the Public Prosecutor's Office under Article 23(2) of the code of criminal procedure, which requires any public authority, official or civil servant that learns of facts that may correspond to a crime or other offence in the course of their work to inform the state prosecutor without delay.
Preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
The SRE's duties include preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the technologies, equipment and expertise needed to manufacture them. Failure to prevent dissemination of these technologies represents a threat to international stability and can lead to arms races or volatile military conflicts.
Programmes for the development of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear arms, are critical elements in many regional and international crises. The international community notably seeks to curb the acquisition of dual-use goods that may have both civil and military applications by countries subject to European or United Nations sanctions. As a major European logistics hub, Luxembourg is directly concerned by this issue and co-operates closely with other countries and international organisations.
Under the law of June 27, 2018 on oversight of the export, transit and import of goods of a strictly civilian nature, those related to defence and dual-use goods, the SRE provides any useful information and risk assessments to the Economy Ministry's Office for Export Controls (Office du Contrôle des Exportations, Importations et du Transit), including regular input from its partner services.
In addition, under Article 9 on co-operation with national and international bodies of the law of July 5, 2016, the SRE provides any relevant information to the Customs and Excise Authority (Administration des Douanes et Accises).
Countering espionage and interference
Some States resort to espionage to access non-public information, whether through clandestine means on the ground or remotely via electronic means. To protect the interests of the State, the SRE is responsible for detecting and preventing any activities that not only violate the sovereignty of the States targeted, but could be part of a campaign of manipulation or even sabotage.
There is increasing concern about so-called hybrid threats from hostile States seeking to weaken democratic societies and undermine international stability using tools such as propaganda, traditional types of espionage and the spread of disinformation through social media.
The ubiquitous cyber-threat
Recent years have seen an increase in cyber-attacks against public or private structures around the world, including Luxembourg. Major advances in information and communication technology have also resulted in exponential growth in the volumes of data and exchanges of data that is almost instantly available.
In order to counter cyber-attacks, the SRE co-operates with key national organisations, notably the government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), the High Commission for National Protection (HCPN) and the Computer Incident Response Centre Luxembourg (CIRCL). As a member of the country's Cyber Security Board, the SRE is involved in the development of the national cyber-security strategy and the emergency plan for responding to attacks on information systems. The nature and scale of cyber-attacks make international co-operation essential in this area, too.
National Security Authority
The leaking of certain information could endanger the country's core interests. Sensitive information is protected according to levels of classification ranging from 'confidential' to 'secret' or 'top secret', and is limited to a restricted group of individuals with the appropriate security clearance. People whose work requires them to access classified information must submit a request to the National Security Authority and agree to be subject, if necessary, to investigation by the authority to identify any possible vulnerabilities. At any time, they need to offer guarantees in terms of discretion, loyalty and integrity. In Luxembourg, the duties of the National Security Authority are conducted by the SRE under the law of June 15, 2004 on the classification of documents and security clearance.