Enhancing Early Warning with Open Source Intelligence
Johnny Engell-Hansen

Head of Operations Unit
Council of the European Union
General Secretariat / EU Situation Centre
Rue de la Loi 175
BE 1048 Brussels


Open Source Intelligence can play an important role in producing early warnings about developing international crises. A timely and relevant warning buys time to involve international policy makers in creating the needed policy action to mitigate possible effects of a crisis.

The European Union relies on its own Situation Centre (EU SITCEN) to produce early warnings based on, among other things, intelligence derived from open sources. First, the talk gives an overview about the exact role and responsibility of the EU SITCEN. Secondly, the process it uses to acquire and process information from all kind of sources is described. Finally, the talk explains how OSINT contributes to create early warnings. The nature of OSINT contributions and its relation with other kinds of sources, e.g. Intelligence, will be discussed.

Short bio

Johnny Engell-Hansen joined the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union in 1994 and is currently Head of Operations Unit in the EU Situation Centre. The Unit's areas of responsibility include; monitoring and assessing world-wide events on a 24/7 basis and alerting senior EU officials and EU Member States to politically significant events; Open Sources Intelligence capability; deployable teams to ensure strategic information in a crisis situation; provision of core infrastructures (human and material) to support EU decision-making in case the EU Emergency and Crisis Coordination Arrangements are triggered; and implementation of IT platforms to optimise information exchange between the EU Situation Centre and its customers/partners in EU institutions, EU Member States and other international organisations.

Johnny Engell-Hansen has participated in work in support of the development of African Union early warning capabilities, e.g. its Situation Room, its Open Sources information system and its "Continental Early Warning System". He has served as an adviser to the EU border management agency FRONTEX on the setting up of its own Situation Centre.

Johnny Engell-Hansen has been a co-initiator in the creation of a forum for cooperation and information exchange between bodies within International Organisations responsible for "early warning" and "crisis response".

Other professional activities include participation in fora aiming to enhance the exploitation of Open Sources information (e.g. the Budapest Club, an informal gathering of EU government officials). He is also a frequent speaker / participant in conferences and workshops dealing with "early warning" and "crisis response".

Within the EU General Secretariat of the Council Johnny Engell-Hansen has previously held positions in departments dealing with Energy Policy and Organisational Development. In the framework of an exchange programme he was seconded to the German Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry of Defence in 2002.

Prior to joining the EU General Secretariat of the Council Johnny Engell-Hansen had a career as an officer in the Danish Armed Forces. During this career he was, among other things, seconded to the EU Monitoring Mission in ex-Yugoslavia in 1993 where he served in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania.