Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as the next German chancellor, has called for Europol to be scaled up into a “European FBI” to tackle cybercrime.
“A well-defended state must also be able to defend itself in the digital world,” Laschet, the chancellor candidate of Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the CSU, wrote in an opinion article published Wednesday in Handelsblatt.
“We must create European opportunities for cyber self-defense and develop Europol in the cyber sector into a European FBI,” Laschet said. This would allow Europe to react to digital threats, which are “often harbingers of analog crimes,” he argued.
The conservative candidate also called for a “a common foreign climate policy … to minimize the risks for the population caused by global climate change,” and proposed a European commissioner for external climate policy — a European counterpart for U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
Laschet, who is set to meet French President Emmanuel Macron later on Wednesday, also called more broadly for a “stronger security union” led by Germany and France. “The French president has repeatedly shown his will for groundbreaking renewals for a strong Europe, now it is time to go down this path together,” he wrote.
“We need a Union that is a self-confident and independent actor on the outside and demonstrates the ability to act internally,” Laschet said.
According to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls, Laschet’s conservatives are polling at 21 percent in the lead-up to the September 26 election, behind the Social Democrats, who are on 25 percent. The Greens are on 17 percent.