Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Seventh Report


51 EU police, rule of law and civilian administration mission to Iraq

(27859)

Council Joint Action amending and extending Joint Action 2005/190/CFSP on the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq (EUJUST LEX)

Legal baseArticles 14, 25, 26, and 28(3) EU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 3 October 2006
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (27480): HC 34-xxix (2005-06), para 9 (17 May 2006)
To be discussed in Council16-17 October 2006 General Affairs and External Relations Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared, but further information requested

Background

51.1 At the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 2 November 2004, EU Foreign Ministers agreed a package of assistance for Iraq (consistent with the EU medium-term strategy for Iraq agreed at the European Council in June 2004). One element was a possible EU integrated police and rule of law mission for Iraq, starting after the January 2005 elections. An expert team was first tasked to continue the dialogue with the Iraqi authorities, to start initial planning and, in particular, to assess the security needs and conditions for such a mission. We cleared the Joint Action setting out its terms of reference on 1 December 2004.[129]

51.2 The expert team worked in Iraq and Jordan. Meetings were also conducted in Geneva, Berlin, Kuwait and Dubai. Preparatory work and security training was conducted in Brussels. In all, over 140 Iraqi and international interlocutors were consulted, including the Chairman of the Iraqi Council of Judges, Iraqi police generals and prison governors. Its report in January set out detailed options for such a mission, supported by detailed analysis of both the feasibility of the options, their added value in terms of existing and planned national and international initiatives in this field and the security constraints. The Joint Action that we cleared in February 2005[130] provided for the establishment of an integrated rule of law mission for Iraq, to become operational no later than 1 July 2005 and to last for one year. It was to address what the then Minister for Europe described as "the urgent needs in the Iraqi criminal justice system" through integrated training for high and mid-level officials in senior management and criminal investigation. Its aim was "to improve the capacity, co-ordination and collaboration of the different components of the Iraqi criminal justice system. An effective strategic and technical partnership with Iraqi counterparts will be developed throughout the mission, particularly in relation to the design of the curricula." There were to be 13 senior management courses (for 520 mid to senior officials across the criminal justice system) and seven criminal investigation courses (for 250 investigating magistrates and police). There was to be a Head of Mission, a coordination office in Brussels, a liaison office in Baghdad, and training facilities and trainers provided by Member States and coordinated by the Mission. The Joint Action also "reflects the Expert Team's recommendation that the best means to achieve an independent and secure ESDP mission is by conducting training outside Iraq, either in the EU or the region. However the preference of Iraqis is that this training is delivered in Iraq. If the security situation allows and infrastructure becomes available the Council will review whether training could be delivered in Iraq."

51.3 Costs were to be divided between the CFSP budget (an estimated €10.9 million) and Member States (the costs of any training and/or seconded staff they provided). The UK was offering to provide three courses (at an estimated total cost of £720,000) and hoped to contribute two or three secondees to the planning team or mission staff. The British Embassy would provide office space and accommodation for the Baghdad Liaison Office and its staff; the CFSP budget would cover the running costs, including security, up to €2.3 million (included in the total budget outlined above).

Council Joint Action 2005/190/CFSP

51.4 On 17 May we cleared the current Joint Action. It called for an 18 month extension, with the aim of improving "the capacity, co-ordination and collaboration of the different components of the Iraqi criminal justice system within a framework aimed at protecting human rights and respect for the law", and involving a wider range of training objectives, "train-the-trainers courses" and work experience secondments in Member State institutions and a doubling the maximum number of mission staff based in Baghdad to 10.

51.5 As with the earlier Joint Action, the Minister said that "if the security situation allows and infrastructure becomes available the Council will review whether any of the training or mentoring and monitoring could be delivered in Iraq".[131]

The draft Joint Action

51.6 As well as extending the mission's mandate for a further 18 months, expiring on the 31st December 2007, the June Joint Action also extended the funding "timeline" of the original Joint Action until 31 October 2006, in order to spend funds that at that time were unused. In his 3 October 2006 Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for Europe (Mr Geoffrey Hoon) explains that a new Joint Action is now required to cover the remaining 14 months of the mandate.

51.7 He goes on to explain that, following discussions with the Head of Mission, the EU has issued a set of recommendations which will form the basis of the upcoming Joint Action (the draft text of which he attaches), whose main recommendations are as follows :

—  the appointment, at the request of the Minister, of an additional prisons expert to the Baghdad Liaison Office to serve as strategic advisor to the Ministry of the Interior;

—  more specialised courses for senior and middle-ranking officials from each of the rule of law sector (police, judiciary, and prisons); and

—  secondments in EU member states for senior Iraqi police officers and prison governors.

51.8 As on previous occasions, he says that if the security situation allows and infrastructure becomes available the Council will review whether any of the activity could be delivered in Iraq —"but this continues to be unlikely".

The Government's view

51.9 The Minister describes the extension and expansion of EUJUST Lex as "a success for HMG's active promotion of EU engagement in Iraq and recognition of the valuable contribution that the mission has made so far to the reconstruction effort in Iraq" and says that in proposing an expanded range of training, the (British) Head of Mission has taken into account the wishes of the Iraqi authorities and the needs identified through his experience in the first year of the operation.

51.10 With the arrival of a Commission Delegation in Baghdad — the prospect of which he signalled in his 10 May 2006 Explanatory Memorandum on Joint Action 2005/190/CFSP — "there is potential for the eventual development of complementary Community supported institution building, good governance and rule of law programmes following up on the proposed training".

51.11 Costs, the Minister explains, will continue to be divided between the CFSP budget — an estimated total of €11.5 million — and Member States, who will bear the costs of any training that they provide and of any seconded staff that they contribute (except for the Head of Mission, who is contracted by the Commission).

51.12 For its part, the UK intends to provide nine courses, costing an estimated £1.5 million, including specialist courses in murder investigation for the police; is also investigating the possibility of offering work experience secondments; and will further support the Baghdad Liaison Office by continuing to provide office and living accommodation, the running and security costs of which will be reimbursed from the CFSP budget. As well as the Head of Mission, the Chief of Staff and Security Manager are also currently UK secondees, and the Minister is looking at the possibility of providing a prisons or judicial expert to work for the mission in Iraq.

51.13 The Joint Action is expected to be agreed at the 16-17 October General Affairs and External Relations Council.

Conclusion

51.14 In view of Iraq's unique political importance and the central role being played by the UK, we consider that it would again be appropriate to make a short Report.

51.15 We have no questions to put to the Minister but, as requested in our previous report, would be grateful if he would keep us informed about the possible development of complementary Community action to which he refers.

51.16 We now clear the document.





129   HC 38-i (2004-05), para 22 (1 December 2004). Back

130   (26356): See HC 38-ix (2004-05), para 9 (23 February 2005). Back

131   See (27480) -; HC 34-xxix (2005-06), para 9 (17 May 2006)

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