Why Europe can't find the jihadis in its midst

What’s impossible for the EU to fix, he argued, is a system where anyone can move across Europe without showing identification, but the police and intelligence services remain nationally focused. And the current system, where centralized databases at Interpol and Europol are supposed to flag the movements of fugitives, relies on the individual member agencies to do the actual police work.

“Europol and Interpol are desks that file notices,” said one EU detective with a long history in organized crime and terror investigations. They serve as clearinghouses for warrants and notices, but local police often lack an incentive to check on warnings from other countries unless it applies to a case of their own.

And even as the EU dismantled much of what had previously seen as the hallmarks of a state — border and immigration controls, a national currency and reporting regulations, monitoring trade in goods and services — it didn’t replace these mechanisms with any unified oversight. The removal of all these regulatory obstacles have been a boon for all business and international activity, both legal and not.

Fixing it would require national institutions — law enforcement, the military, and intelligence services — to give up some local autonomy in favor of further integration, something both the current political dynamic, as seen by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, and the entrenched mentality of the security establishment make very unlikely.