Documents considered by the Committee on 8th December 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

20 EU Assistance to the Palestinian Territories


Council Decision amending Joint Action 2005/797/CFSP on the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS)

Legal baseArticles 28 and 43(2) EU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 24 November 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (31173) —: HC 5-iii (2009-10), chapter 18 (9 December 2009); also see (30098) —: HC 16-xxxv (2007-08), chapter 13 (12 November 2008); (29731) —: HC 16-xxiv (2007-08), chapter 13 (18 June 2008); (29404) —: HC 16-xi (2007-08), chapter 10 (6 February 2008); (29307) 16426/07: HC 16-viii (2007-08), chapter 23 (16 January 2008); and (26957) —: HC 34-viii (2005-06), chapter 16 (2 November 2005)
To be discussed in Council9 December 2010 Foreign Affairs Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


20.1 An EU Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EU COPPS) was established in January 2005 within the office of the EU Special Representative (EUSR) to the Middle East Peace Process.[94] It then consisted of four police advisers seconded and funded by Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Spain, and a local office manager based in the PNA Ministry of Interior in Ramallah, a liaison office in Jerusalem and a forward office in the Palestinian Police HQ in Gaza. Non-personnel related start-up and running costs for EU COPPS were funded by the UK Department for International Development until 31 December 2005.

20.2 On 2 November 2005, the then Committee cleared Joint Action 2005/797/CFSP, which, reflecting preparatory work by the Council Secretariat, including an earlier fact-finding mission under the guidance of the Political and Security Committee (PSC),[95] authorised an ESDP mission that built on the then EU-COPPS police support mission by increasing staff to 33. The mission, which continued to be known as EU-COPPS, was launched on 1 January 2006, with a three-year mandate.

20.3 Against the background of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and some parts of the West Bank, the aim was to find a way to build on the work of the EU-COPPS and help the Palestine Authority to fulfil its "security" and "institution-building" obligations under the so-called Road Map. Although the three year mandate was longer than normal, it was considered necessary if the EU was to support the Palestinian National Authority's comprehensive Police Development Programme, which included both institutional change and capacity-building, together with "Rule of Law elements", with the purpose of creating an effective Palestine police force.

20.4 Although launched with a three year mandate, decisions on financing are taken annually. When first launched, the then Minister for Europe said that funding for Common Costs (HQ, in-country transport, office equipment etc) for 2006 was expected to be in the region of €6.1 million (then equivalent to £4.16 million), which would be met in the normal way from the CFSP budget, to which the UK contributed approximately 17% (€1.04 million, £0.707 million); and that the cost of any UK policing expertise contributed to the mission would come from the Whitehall Peacekeeping Budget (which is a call on the Treasury's central contingency reserve).

20.5 On 6 February 2008, the then Committee cleared a Council Decision covering the costs for the remainder of the EUPOL COPPS Mission's mandate, until 31 December 2008. In his accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 4 February 2008, the then Minister for Europe said that the budget for the rest of 2008 was projected to be €7 million, of which the UK would contribute approximately €1.12 million (£840,000). He noted that, as well as contributing three personnel to the Mission, the Government had also pledged £1.2 million to support the Mission's practical work in November 2007.

20.6 On 18 June 2008, the then Committee cleared a further Council Decision increasing the financial reference amount from 1 March 2008 to 31 December 2008 by an additional €1 million. In his accompanying 10 June Explanatory Memorandum, the then Minister for Europe explained that this would enable the Mission to engage more effectively in police-related criminal justice matters by funding 26 more personnel, most of whom would work in the Rule of Law and Police Advisory sections, specifically in the judiciary and penitentiary spheres. He went on to explain that this reflected a desire on the part of the EU "to increase its engagement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories", in the light of what he saw as the renewed momentum given to the Middle East Peace Process by the Annapolis Peace Conference in November 2007. The then Minister expressed strong support for the mission: he saw Palestinian capability in law and order as a key condition for progress in the Middle East Peace Process, and said that this expansion of its activities would increase the Mission's effectiveness in addressing the linkages between the police force and the broader rule of law.

20.7 In its Report of 6 February 2008 the then Committee noted that this would be the last year of the EUPOL COPPS mandate and that there were moves under way to introduce a formal review mechanism for all civilian ESDP missions. Even though this latest Council Decision itself also raised no political or legal questions, the then Committee again reported it to the House in the light of its earlier request that, at the end of the mandate, the Minister ensured that a formal report on its cost (which in that year alone would now be €8 million), activities and outcomes was produced and deposited along with an EM containing his views on its effectiveness. That request stemmed from what they had earlier noted, when considering the Portuguese Presidency report (on its stewardship of European Security and Defence Policy, and outlining the incoming Presidency's mandate), as timely moves under way to introduce a formal review mechanism for such ESDP missions — or, as the document in question put it, "to establish an architecture for evaluation, lessons learned and best practices of civilian ESDP operations."

20.8 Then, two years ago, the then Committee considered a fresh Joint Action, to extend the EUPOL COPPS mandate for a further two years, and increase the financial reference amount to cover the expenditure related to the mission for the period from 1 January 2009 until 31 December 2009. It also amended the mission's structure to reflect its reinforced activities in the area of the Rule of Law.

20.9 In her accompanying Explanatory Memorandum of 5 November 2008, the then Minister for Europe (Caroline Flint) said that this would enable it to continue to progress both police reform and reform of police-related criminal justice matters. Like her predecessor, the Minister referred to the impetus of the Annapolis Peace Conference and the consequent EUPOL COPPS expansion of its activities in the judiciary and penitentiary spheres, expressed the Government's continuing strong support for the Mission and emphasised the development of Palestinian capability in law and order as a key condition for progress in the Middle East Peace Process. The extension of its mandate would, she said, enable it to continue to improve Palestinian capability in this area. It was, she said, particularly necessary as the Mission effectively lost 18 months of its original mandate due to being unable to engage with the Hamas-led Ministry of the Interior between February 2006 and July 2007 (the formation of the Fayyad government). The extension would "compensate for this lost time, and ensure that the Mission is able to complete all the activities currently underway."

20.10 Turning to the Resource Implications, the then Minister said that:

—  the new financial reference for 2009 was €7 million (then approximately £5.6 million); the UK contribution, at approximately 17%, would therefore be approximately €1.2 million (then approximately £960,000);

—  the UK would also continue to contribute three personnel to the Mission, funded from the Whitehall Peacekeeping Budget.

The then Committee's assessment

20.11 While not taking issue with the then Minister's views on the importance of developing Palestinian capability in this area, the previous Committee did, however, note that the cost of the mission would now amount to over €20 million. So far, the only evaluation of its achievements was the Minister's comment that that Mission's expansion into the wider rule of law area had "enabled it to address more effectively the linkages between the police force and the broader rule of law." The previous Committee presumed that the then Minister had not produced the proper assessment for which they had called because this was not the end of the mandate, but a further extension — in this case, for another two years.

20.12 The previous Committee also noted the need for further Council action to cover financing in 2010. On that occasion, it asked the then Minister to provide a full assessment of the Mission's cost, achievements and, if appropriate, failings, and the lessons of particular and general application that had by then emerged.

20.13 In the meantime, it cleared the document.[96]

The most recent Council Decision

20.14 That Council Decision amended the 2005/797/CFSP Joint Action in three ways. It:

—  set out new funding for the period of 1 January to 31 December 2010;

—  clarified the way in which the mission can recruit its staff;

—   set out language standardising the mission's "Project Cell", which would manage project activity.

20.15 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 27 November 2009, the then Minister for Europe (Chris Bryant) reiterated the Government's strong support for the Mission, which he said remained "a high profile mission of increasing importance at the cornerstone of efforts by the EU to support efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." He noted that in 2009, under the leadership of the British Head of Mission:

    "EUPOL COPPS has made progress in all areas of its mandate, ensuring Palestinian ownership for reforms. The mission has made particular progress in coordinating Member States' bilateral contributions, developing a Civilian Policing Model based on a 'serving-the-public' approach, and in starting implementation of an ambitious Criminal Justice Action Plan. The advisory section maintained its regular visits to the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) Districts, supporting and advising PCP Officers, particularly District Commanders. Management training has also been developed and delivered to assist the commanders."

20.16 He also noted that "one of the greatest challenges faced by EUPOL COPPS in 2009 has been the under resourcing by member states of international staff position [and] … therefore welcomes using contracted staff to allow the mission to fully implement its mandate at this crucial time."

20.17 The then Minister also noted that the draft Council Decision included standardised language on a project cell for identifying and implementing projects:

    "This provides limited programme funds to support projects that will increase the effectiveness of the mission. Such projects include: support on drugs awareness, community police training, support to intelligence led policing and support in the delivery of specialized investigation training courses, premises and equipment. The UK supports the mission's project work, enabling the mission to better fulfil its role as a key actor in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Project cells are also established in EUSEC DRC, EUPOL DRC and EUPOL Afghanistan."

20.18 With regard to the Financial Implications, the Minister said that the financial reference amount intended to cover the expenditure related to EUPOL COPPS for the period 1 January to 31 December 2010 would be €6.65 million. (The Minister did not follow the normal practice of also denoting the cost in £s, or the cost to the UK, which was presumably the customary c.17%. He also made no mention of the separate UK contribution, which the previous Committee likewise presumed would continue for a further year.)

The previous Committee's assessment

20.19 The previous Committee noted that the Mission had clearly come a long way from its modest beginnings four years earlier, particularly given the difficult circumstances in which it had been operating, which were far removed from the hopes surrounding the creation of the "road map" that defined its purpose.

20.20 It also noted that the UK contribution, and not just to the common costs, appeared to have been significant in its achievements thus far — which it felt was plainly more than could be said of some other Member States (c.f. paragraph 20.16 above).

20.21 With still a year to go of this mandate, it accepted that the Minister would have been unable to provide a full assessment of its achievements. However, in a year's time — whether the mandate was coming to an end, or a further extension is then proposed — it said that a much fuller assessment should be provided, i.e., one that gave meaning to the new "architecture for evaluation, lessons learned and best practices of civilian ESDP operations" that was promised at the end of the Portuguese Presidency two years earlier (c.f. paragraph 0.7 above).

20.22 The previous Committee then cleared the document.[97]

The draft Council Decision

20.23 The draft Decision continues the mandate of EUPOL COPPS from 1 January 2011 for an additional period of 12 months until 31 December 2011 and extends its financing for a further year until 31 December 2011.

20.24 It now describes EUPOL COPPS mission as:

    "to contribute to the establishment of sustainable and effective policing arrangements under Palestinian ownership in accordance with best international standards, in cooperation with the Community's institution building programmes as well as other international efforts in the wider context of Security Sector including Criminal Justice Reform."

20.25 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 24 November 2010, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) says that funding for the next year will amount to €8.25 million (£7.17 million); that the UK contributes 13.8% to the overall EU budget in 2010, of which the CFSP budget is a constituent part; and if 13.8% is taken as indicative of the UK's share of the CFSP budget, the cost to the UK of this further extension will be around €1.14 million (£0.99 million).

20.26 Noting that the 2010 budget is €6.9 million, the Minister says that the increase is accounted for by:

—  Personnel: an increase in per diems, the daily fee paid to all mission staff, which is calculated by reference to UN per diem rates, and where the depreciation of the euro against the dollar has led to increased costs. The EU also increased the risk rate for Jerusalem from medium to high in June 2010 resulting in an increase in the daily risk allowance. Finally, the mission plans to employ three additional local staff in order to better support two large projects and to reflect changes in how the Palestinians organise their engagement with the mission;

—  Capital: replacement of old IT equipment and the purchase of a replacement armoured car. A number of essential security measures are also required following an assessment by the Council Security Office, which were put off in 2010 pending a move to new premises;

—  Running expenditure, missions and representation as a result of the mission being more fully staffed, slightly higher rents for mission premises, the leasing of generators to provide an alternative source of power for mission buildings, the need for more travel to Amman because of a police project being explored there, and increased use of mobile phones as the mission is more fully staffed and coverage improves in the West Bank;

—  Contingency: an increase to bring the contingency budget in line with the standard Commission allocation.

20.27 The Minister adds that:

    "In discussing the proposed budget, the UK made clear that we expect all CSDP missions to prioritise funding and to live within their existing budget envelopes rather than to seek increases.

    "However, our judgement on this occasion is that the budget for EUPOL COPPS is relatively lean, as evidenced by the mission's requirement this year for additional funds. Despite this, the UK led efforts did lead the Commission to revisit the mission's proposed budget and cut out €150,000 based on better cost projections."

20.28 Finally, the Minister says that the UK currently provides funding from the Middle East and North Africa Conflict Prevention Pool for four personnel in the Mission, including the Head of the Rule of Law.

The Government's view

20.29 The Minister reiterates continuing strong support for the work of EUPOL COPPS, which he says plays an important role in the international community's efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority's police and wider rule of law institutions.

    "This is central to improving security in the West Bank and demonstrating the responsibility and viability of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Fayyad has stated that establishing an effective justice system is one of his priorities. As such it is a key element of the Palestinian obligations under the Roadmap, a concern for Israel and a necessary condition for building trust in the negotiating process."

20.30 The Minister describes the Mission's present work thus:

    "The mission provides strategic advice and expertise to the entire criminal justice chain (Palestinian Civil Police, Ministry of Justice, Attorney General, High Judicial Council, courts, Bar Association and prison system) based on the Palestinian Authority's criminal justice action plan. EUPOL COPPS, in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and the Palestinian Civil Police, is implementing a comprehensive three year Palestinian Civil Police Development Programme, which involves the delivery of substantial quantities of vehicles, public order and communications equipment. The mission continues to play a valuable role in helping to coordinate Member States' bilateral contributions to Palestinian policing efforts. Both the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis recognise the importance of the mission's work. The co-location of a mission expert in the Ministry of Justice has contributed to the strategic management, planning and oversight of activity in the Ministry, such as the indicators to measure progress in the 2010 to 2013 Justice Sector Strategy."

20.31 With regard to its effectiveness, the Minister says:

    "The mission has recently conducted some important project work. As part of the project to improve cooperation between the Palestinian Civil Police and Public Prosecution, the mission facilitated the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two. This is an important step towards constructing an end to end rule of law strategy, from arrest to rehabilitation, which helps to bring together coherently different Palestinian actors. In order to improve project prioritisation and coordination, and closely monitor progress towards the Palestinian Civil Police objectives, a Palestinian Civil Police Programme Steering Committee has been constituted, which two EUPOL COPPS experts advise.

    "Despite the progress being made, the UK continues to push for a stronger sense of strategic direction in the mission, as well as more concrete indicators of progress. The Head of Mission has taken forward this aspect of work, including by refreshing the mission's high level objectives and implementation of a programme based approach in the mission for planning work and projects. However, there is further to go and the UK has gained agreement at 27 that these two aspects will be addressed under the next mandate. In addition, subject to wider EU discussions on engagement in the Palestinian Territories, we are likely to push to increase the size of the mission in the near future. This would be a small increase of 15 to 20 staff to increase activities in existing areas of work. In principle we support this move which will provide the mission with the additional expertise that is required to better implement its broad mandate. I will write with a subsequent Memorandum if an increase of staff is proposed."


20.32 Perhaps the uncertain environment in which EUPOL COPPS has been forced to operate has militated against the sort of assessment that our predecessors had in mind, and which was trumpeted by the Council three years ago (c.f. paragraphs 0.07 and 0.21 above). It is nonetheless difficult, notwithstanding what the Minister says about progress, to get a sense of its achievements. The mission has now been operating for nearly six years, and by the time this mandate ends, will have cost some €35 million. The Minister talks of still having to "push for a stronger sense of strategic direction in the mission, as well as more concrete indicators of progress", and of the Head of Mission implementing a programme based approach in the mission for planning work and projects — considerations that are fundamental to any operation, regardless of the local environment, and which ought surely to have been well-entrenched by now. Even so, there is a clear assumption that, come the end of 2011, there will be a further mandate extension, and a staff increase in the meantime. Either then, or when the presumed mandate extension is proposed, we urge the Minister to provide something more substantial than hitherto to illustrate what €35 million of European taxpayers' money has achieved, beyond a sense of involvement. At that point, we would also like to know what Member States other than the UK are engaged in the Mission's work (c.f. paragraphs 20.16 and 20.20 above.

20.33 In the meantime, we clear the document.

94   EU Special Representatives (EUSR) are appointed to represent Common Foreign and Security Policy where the Council agrees that an additional EU presence on the ground is needed to deliver the political objectives of the Union. The aim of the EUSRs is to represent the EU in troubled regions and countries and to play an active part in promoting the interests and the policies of the EU. There are currently seven EUSRs in different regions of the world.  Back

95   The committee of senior officials from national delegations who, under article 25 of the EU Treaty, monitor the international situation in areas covered by the CFSP and, under the general responsibility of the Council, exercise political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations. Back

96   See headnote: (30098) -: HC 16-xxxv (2007-08), chapter 13 (12 November 2008). Back

97   See headnote: (31173) -: HC 5-iii (2009-10), chapter 18 (9 December 2010). Back

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