EU takes on policing role in Bosnia

The 15 EU foreign ministers agreed on 28 January to send a 500-strong police force to Bosnia to replace the United Nations-led International Police Task Force. The decision gives a boost to the EU’s new security and defence policy, which was declared operational at the Summit of Laeken in December.

The EU police force for Bosnia will be the first civilian operation in the framework of the European security and defence policy. Its aim is to contribute to the overall peace implementation in Bosnia, and help the achievement of the objectives of EU’s overall policy in the region, notably the Stabilisation and Association Process.

The European police force will train a professional police force in Bosnia in order to establish sustainable policing structures.

The police operation is expected to cost 45-50 million euro per year. The Member States and the Commission have yet to agree on the financing of the operation. Police salaries should be paid by the Member States, while the overhead costs (buildings, infrastructure, transport) should be paid from the EU budget.


European leaders agreed on a common defence strategy at the Cologne Summit on 3 June 1999. The 15 Member States of the EU formally decided to create a rapid reaction force (RRF) of 60,000 men at the Nice European Council in December 2000. The RRF should be operational from 2003 on, concentrating on humanitarian relief, rescue, peace-keeping and crisis-management tasks independently of NATO. The military force will be backed up by a 5,000-strong EU police corps.

The European security and defence policy (ESDP) was declared operational at the European Council of Laeken in December 2001. However, most defence analysts are sceptical about the ability of the EU to operate its defence policy due to a lack of strategic capabilities. The EU is trying to reach an agreement with NATO on sharing its capabilities, but Turkey - a NATO but not EU member - has been blocking the deal for over a year.


The final decision on the EU police force for Bosnia will be taken by the General Affairs Council at its 18 February 2002 meeting.


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