Op-ed by Ambassador Peter Sorensen: A landmark mission with a lasting impact

The European Union Police Mission (EUPM) will end its work in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 30 June 2012. Hundreds of police professionals from all over Europe and local staff have contributed to the work of the EUPM in the past 9 and half years by assisting the country’s law enforcement agencies in their work.   

EUPM was the first mission launched under the European Security and Defence Policy. It has helped in entrenching peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it has made considerable achievements in developing the BiH Ministry of Security, the BiH Border Police and establishing the BiH Directorate for Police Coordination to name just a few.  It has also played a key role in the transformation of the State Investigation and Protection Agency.

The Police Mission also implemented many projects. I highlight Krimolovci, which enabled citizens to anonymously report their findings on criminal activities, and Women, Peace and Security in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as particularly effective campaigns.  The latter has been implemented since 2005 with a goal to increase awareness in the BiH security sector, armed forces and police in particular, to the issues of women’ human rights and gender perspective.

The work of EUPM and its results will be neither lost nor forgotten. Within the 35 chapters of the EU Acquis (basically, the criteria for membership of the Union),   Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to pay close attention to Chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights, and Chapter 24 – Justice, freedom and security. EUPM has made major contributions in the areas covered by these chapters.

These Chapters are often the most challenging for candidate countries – the chapter related to the judiciary was the last closed by Croatia for example. The Office of the European Union Special Representative is therefore going to be reinforced with a small Law Enforcement Section which will maintain a watch on matters related to law enforcement, public safety and security and will facilitate the efforts of BiH and EU interlocutors alike. The Law Enforcement Section will complement the technical expertise brought in by the EU under its IPA programme. Members of this unit will advise local legislative and executive authorities at political and strategic level in order to ensure progressive development in the field of law enforcement. In addition to this, they will liaise with all relevant international and local agencies.

But these are not the only ways in which the European Union contributes to safety and security in BiH. In addition to EUPM and EUFOR, we have been financing activities through the funds of the Instrument of Pre-Accession (IPA) as well. Since 2007, 19.3 million Euro have been invested in the BiH law enforcement sector through IPA. Major investments from IPA 2011, for example, include 2.8 million for construction of Brcko Police headquarters and 5.7 million Euro for the construction of Bijaca Border Inspection Point. It is also widely known that EU has financed the construction of the majority of border-crossings in BiH thus enabling Border Police to work in accordance with European standards.

EUPM has been a valuable member of the so-called EU Family in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our organisations – EU Delegation, EUSR, EUFOR and EUPM – will continue to work to ensure the country is irreversibly on track to the EU. In a sense EUPM is leaving our family, but its accomplishments stay and will be reflected in BiH law enforcement agencies working in accordance with best European practice.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Head of Mission, Brigadier General Stefan Feller and his staff. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Good luck!