EU closes BiH police mission
By Irina Smirnova-Godoy | Thursday 21 June 2012
The decision to discontinue operations of the European Union Police Mission (EUPM) to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), on 30 June, has provided an opportunity to assess the results and future prospects both for the country and EU missions in general. The EUPM was the first mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), initially launched for three years on 1 January 2003. Its mandate has been extended and modified several times upon the invitation of national authorities. The original mandate had three key goals: contribute to peace and stability in BiH, establish the rule of law and develop the EU’s external identity. By 2006, it had been modified to focus more on strengthening law enforcement capacity to combat corruption and organised crime.
Among the mission’s successes cited by its head, Stefan Feller, is the creation of the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA), the development of joint strategic and operational capacity of law enforcement agencies at state and regional levels and the fulfilment by police agencies of all requirements of the road map to visa liberalisation, ensuring visa-free travel for the citizens since December 2010. On a strategic level, the improvement in the way individual police agencies work and their enhanced relationship with the prosecutors have been singled out. The EUPM is also leaving behind two police brands – the 122 emergency phone number and the Krimolovci (Crime Stoppers) hotline.
In the last decade the political climate has been explosive in Bosnia and Herzegovina and since 2006 crisis after crisis has threatened the stability and institutional continuity in the country. This has limited the potential impact of the EUPM’s activities, alongside other challenges, such as planning and the related EU coordination framework.
The first EU missions were established in 2003-2004. The next two years witnessed a significant increase in civilian crisis management missions. They numbered 16 in 2005-2006. Today there are ten such missions, with three new ones to be launched this summer in Africa. The lessons learned from the EUPM’s nearly decade-long operation include the need for better cooperation between the international partners (UN, OSCE and NATO), better assessment of the missions’ impact on gender and human rights, as well as civil society’s involvement in institutional reforms.
“The termination of the police mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina only represents a transition from crisis management to pre-accession assistance. Our learning by doing will be continued,” stated Maciej Popowski, deputy secretary-general of the European External Action Service.