European Scrutiny Committee Contents

55 European Security and Defence Policy: Policing in Afghanistan


Council Decision amending Joint Action 2007/369/CFSP on the establishment of the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL AFGHANISTAN)

Legal baseArticles 28 and 43(2) TEU; unanimity
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 17 May 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (31071) —: HC 19-xxxi (2008-09), chapter 3 (11 November 2009); (30100)—: HC 16-xxxv (2007-08), chapter 14 (12 November 2008); (29517) —: HC 16-xv (2007-08), chapter 7 (12 March 2008); and (28556) —: HC 41-xviii (2006-07), chapter 16 (25 April 2007)
To be discussed in Council17 May 2010 Agriculture and Fisheries Council
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


55.1 As recorded in the preamble to Joint Action 2007/369/CFSP, on 16 November 2005 the Council agreed on the Joint Declaration "Committing to a new EU Afghan Partnership", which stated the commitment of the European Union and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan "to a secure, stable, free, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan as laid out in the Afghan Constitution adopted on 4 January 2004 [14 Dalwa 1383]. Both parties wish to see Afghanistan play a full and active role in the international community and are committed to building a prosperous future free from the threats of terrorism, extremism and organised crime".

55.2 Subsequently, on 31 January 2006, the Afghanistan Compact (London) affirmed the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community and established a mechanism for co-ordinating Afghan and international efforts over the next five years "to work towards conditions where the Afghan people can live in peace and security under the rule of law, with good governance and human rights protection for all, and can enjoy sustainable economic and social development".

55.3 Against this background, and following two assessment missions, the Council agreed to the establishment of the EU police mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan), which would "work towards an Afghan police force in local ownership that respects human rights and operates within the framework of the rule of law"; it should "build on current efforts and in doing so it should address issues of police reform at central, regional and provincial level". This decision was subsequently endorsed in March 2007 in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1746 (2007), which welcomed the decision by the European Union "to establish a mission in the field of policing with linkages to the wider rule of law and counter-narcotics, to assist and enhance current efforts in the area of police reform at central and provincial levels".

55.4 The mission's detailed terms of reference and modus operandi were also set out in Joint Action 2007/369/CFSP, which the previous Committee cleared on 25 April 2007.[233] In short, EUPOL Afghanistan was established on 30 May 2007 with a three-year mandate; its role is to increase the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan in the rule of law sector, including working closely with European Commission and US efforts in Afghanistan in the field of policing with linkages to the wider rule of law. The operational phase of EUPOL AFGHANISTAN started on 15 June 2007. Its main tasks are to:

—  develop police reform strategy, including work towards a joint overall strategy of the international community;

—  support the Government of Afghanistan in coherently implementing strategy;

—  improve cohesion and co-ordination among international efforts;

—  address linkages to the wider rule of law.

55.5 Although the Mission was launched with a three-year mandate, decisions on financing are taken annually. The most recent instance was a Joint Action extending the financing beyond 30 November 2009 until the end of the mission's current mandate in May 2010 and providing for the establishment of a project cell to enable the mission to identify and implement small scale projects that support its overall mandate. This was considered by the previous Committee on 11 November 2009. The Report of that meeting sets out the rationale for the previous Government's support for the mission and the history of the Committee's consideration of the subject thus far, and includes the views on its performance by two previous Ministers for Europe (Caroline Flint and Baroness Kinnock), which respond to requests by the previous Committee for such an assessment when it cleared the previous such Joint Action a year earlier.[234]

55.6 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 2 November 2009 concerning that most recent amendment to the Joint Action, the then Minister for Europe (Chris Bryant) said that EUPOL Afghanistan had "turned a corner" and was "now regarded by other international players in country as providing a unique set of civilian policing expertise to help develop the Afghan National Police (ANP)." The then Minister reported that there had been "progress against all priorities and the Minister of Interior has expressed his satisfaction with EUPOL's work". As well as continuing to mentor, train and advise Afghan counterparts, the Minister listed some "notable recent successes".[235] In Brussels, Member States were currently discussing the logistics and staffing requirements for the mission to strengthen its presence in the provinces. Though still short of the 400 target, numbers were increasing. But it remained "crucial that the mission reaches its mandated strength if it is to be successful and is increasing the size of its contingent"; other Member States were being encouraged to prioritise secondments to EUPOL, and the UK was supportive of increased flexibility in EU recruitment rules to allow EUPOL to contract more staff directly. The costs of five additional contracted positions funded by the Common Foreign and Security Policy budget have been factored in to the mission's new budget."

55.7 The Minister then turns to the establishment a project cell in the mission at the cost of €150,000. He supports the creation of project cells in some ESPD missions "to provide limited programme funds to purchase assets in support of their mentoring and training roles", noting that such project cells are already established in the EU Security Sector Reform missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (EUSEC DRC and EUPOL DRC).

55.8 Finally, with regard to the Financial Implications, the then Minister said:

—  the Joint Action provided €17.4 million for the period until 30 May 2010 when the current EUPOL mandate would expire, which was in addition to the €64 million already committed from 1 December 2008 to 30 November 2009, taking the total financing for the period until 30 May 2010 to €81.4 million;

—  the UK contribution to the additional financing would be approximately €3 million euros (around £2.7 million);

—  the UK currently had funding for 15 personnel in the Mission provided through the cross-government Conflict Prevention Pool; and

—  at the October 2009 GAERC, he had announced an uplift in UK numbers to 19 personnel from January 2010.

The previous Committee's assessment

55.9 Though welcome, the signs of progress in leadership, in the local response and, after much difficulty it seemed, in focussing on specific priorities had been a very long time coming. And while the UK was pulling its weight, both with regard to EUPOL and bilaterally, it was plain that not all Member States had yet responded sufficiently to enable the mission to fulfil the tasks that the Council laid upon it. Only in May 2010, when the present Joint Action expired, would it be possible to know if, as the then Minister put it, EUPOL had indeed "turned a corner". In the meantime, a further €81.4 million would take the total expenditure to over €200 million. All in all, and notwithstanding what the then Minister said about recent progress, the previous Committee found it hard to see what had been achieved in relation to the expenditure thus far.

55.10 Moreover, the context in which this latest extension was to take place continued to be of intense domestic and international concern. The Conclusions adopted by the 27 October GAERC, along with the EU Action Plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, thus assumed a particular significance.[236] As the Action Plan noted:

"The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. We are not only faced with a critical security situation. Progress on political reform, governance and state-building is too slow, and in some parts of the country almost non-existent. In the absence of good governance, access to basic services, adequate justice and rule of law, the combined international and Afghan security efforts will not produce the necessary political stability needed for a secure and prosperous development.

"Afghanistan is now entering a decisive period. Much is at stake. The formation of a new Government in Kabul provides an opportunity to frame a new agenda and a contract with the Afghan people. That agenda should be supported by a renewed compact between the Government of Afghanistan and the international community. This requires above all strong Afghan leadership, as well as enhanced and better coordinated and concerted international support. Political and civilian efforts must go hand in hand with security measures and developments on the ground."

55.11 All in all, though the Joint Action proposed only a relatively modest increase in the overall cost of EUPOL Afghanistan's budget, the previous Committee judged that this wider background warranted it being debated in the European Committee.

55.12 That debate took place on 18 January 2010. At its conclusion, the Committee resolved that the mission was now "making an important contribution to the international effort to reform the Afghan National Police".[237]

The Council Decision

55.13 This Council Decision extends the mandate of EUPOL Afghanistan until 30 May 2013. Under this Decision, EUPOL Afghanistan will significantly contribute to the establishment under Afghan ownership of sustainable and effective civilian policing arrangements, ensuring appropriate interaction with the wider criminal justice system. It remains a non-executive mission, which aims to achieve its strategic goals by monitoring, mentoring and advising the Afghan police and rule of law structures in Kabul, at regional and provincial levels.

55.14 The Council Decision sets out revised objectives for the mission, which are to:

—  assist the Government of Afghanistan in coherently implementing its strategy towards sustainable and effective civilian policing arrangements, especially with regard to the Afghan Uniform (Civilian) Police and the Afghan Anti-Crime Police, as stipulated in the National Police Strategy;

—  improve cohesion and coordination among international actors;

—  work on strategy development, while placing an emphasis on work towards a joint overall strategy of the international community in police reform and enhance cooperation with key partners in police reform and training, including with the NATO-led mission ISAF and the NATO Training Mission and other contributors; and

—  support linkages between the police and the wider rule of law.

The Government's view

55.15 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 17 May 2010, the Minister for Europe at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (David Lidington) says that, since its deployment in June 2007, the Government believes that EUPOL Afghanistan has not fulfilled its potential as the lead organisation amongst the International Community in pursuing strategic reform of the Afghan National Police (ANP). He describes what he calls "the initial stages of the mission" as being "characterised by a lack of focused strategic direction, a shortage of high quality staff, as well as logistics and security challenges." He continues as follows:

"Despite this, in the last 18 months, the mission has delivered some important reforms and projects, although most of these have been centred on Kabul. This improvement has been brought about by better leadership, greater numbers of personnel — the mission is now at 283 staff — and a more reform minded Minister of the Interior, as well as refocusing the mandate on six clear priorities.

"As a result, the Government believes that EUPOL Afghanistan has an important role to play and should be extended for three years (the timescale generally agreed necessary to complete the next phase of implementation.) Amongst the International Community's efforts in Afghanistan, the mission provides unique civilian policing skills which are essential if the proposed increase in the size of the Afghan National Police is to be accompanied by the quality improvement needed to create a responsive community police force. The UK's vision for police reform in Afghanistan relies on both a top down and bottom up approach. The US and NATO police training efforts are focused at the district level and involve training large numbers of ANP officers in the very basics of policing. By contrast, the EU mission has the mandate to develop the framework for the civilian police, making links to the wider rule of law sector, under which all reform is conducted. This role has been recognised by the Afghan authorities — notably Minister of Interior Atmar — and cemented earlier this year through the five year Afghan National Police Strategy. EUPOL now has the lead on developing and supporting the implementation of the strategy for the Afghan Civilian Police and the Anti-Crime Police. Over the next three years this will be the core focus of the mission."

55.16 The Minister then says that:

"the mission will only succeed if it has effective links with the other main international actors involved in Afghan police reform, especially the NATO Training Mission. For that reason, the UK has seconded a police officer to be the Senior Civilian Policing Advisor to the NATO mission and the link into EUPOL. During negotiations over the new mandate, the UK also insisted on a strong requirement for EUPOL to enhance cooperation with NATO as contained in Article 3(1) of the Council Decision."

55.17 He goes on to say that:

"in order to improve delivery outside of Kabul, the Operations Plan which underpins the Council Decision provides for a refocusing of EUPOL personnel into a smaller number of strategically important provinces.

"The full range of mission objectives will be implemented in the first tier of locations (Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Bamyan and Kandahar). A second group of locations (Maimanah, Kunduz, Feyzabad, Tarin Kot, Chaghcharan, Puli Alam, Pol-e-Khumri and Lashkar Gah) will see certain elements of the mandate implemented depending on local circumstances, including security. The Government encourages all Provincial Reconstruction Team lead nations to work with the mission to follow up on the London Conference Communiqué[238] and provide the logistics, accommodation and security support that the mission requires to operate effectively outside the capital.

"Under the new mandate, activity in the regions and provinces will be focused on urban centres and brought together under the umbrella of City Police and Justice Projects. This programme of work draws inspiration from the successful Kabul City Police Project, led by British police officers, and which helped to embed basic community policing practice whilst improving the capital's security. The Government supports the intention behind the expansion of the police projects to include justice activities. The aim is to provide the mission with an overarching framework for reform in a given location that brings together coherently specific deliverables against the six strategic objectives. Experience from Kabul has shown that in order to cascade reforms throughout the police structures, EUPOL personnel sometimes need to work at the District level, and the revised mandate provides for this. In agreeing to this provision, the UK has been clear that this does not mean a blurring of focus for the mission and that personnel will only work in, and not be based at, the District level.

"If the mission is to capitalise on the structural reforms set in train by the Council Decision, it will require continued support from Member States and the central EU institutions. In particular, the EU must ensure that all its efforts in country pull in the same direction, especially with the establishment of the European External Action Service."

55.18 With regard to the Financial Implications, the Minister says that:

—   the Council Decision provides €54.6 million for the period from 1 June 2010 to 30 May 2011, at which point a new annual budget will be proposed;

—  funding for the common costs of the mission (HQ, in-country transport, office equipment etc) is met from the Common Foreign and Security Policy budget, of which the UK share, via its contribution to the overall EU Budget, is around 13.5%;

—  the UK currently provides funding for 20 personnel in the Mission; 15 based in Kabul, five based in Helmand.

55.19 Finally, the Minister notes that this Council Decision is due to be adopted at the AGRIFISH Council on 17 May 2010.


55.20 It would seem that the mission has indeed turned a corner. But it will be some time before it is clear to what extent it is now on the right road. The first opportunity for assessing this will be in a year's time, when the next annual budget is proposed. On that occasion, we ask the Minister to provide an assessment. We shall be particularly interested in his views on, and illustrations of, the extent to which:

—  the mission has delivered concrete outcomes with respect to the aims and considerations to which he draws attention in his Explanatory Memorandum;

—  there has been continued support from Member States and the central EU institutions; and

—  the EU has ensured that all its efforts in country pull in the same direction (c.f. paragraphs 55.15-55.17 above).

55.21 We should also like this assessment to include reference to the impact of the new EU Special Representative (EUSR) to Afghanistan, which we deal with elsewhere in this Report.[239]

55.22 In the meantime, we are reporting this latest development to the House because of the widespread interest in Afghanistan.

55.23 In so doing, we recognise that the general election and absence of this Committee militated against the Minister withholding agreement to this Decision until it had been scrutinised, and do not object, on this occasion and in these circumstances, to the action that he took in agreeing to its adoption prior to scrutiny.

233   See headnote. Back

234   See headnote: (31071) -: HC 19-xxxi (2008-09), chapter 3 (11 November 2009).  Back

235   Ibid. Back

236   See for the full text of the Council Conclusions and the Action Plan. Back

237   The record of the debate is available at  Back

238   The Afghanistan conference took place in London at Lancaster House on 28 January 2010. According to its website, "the international community came together to fully align military and civilian resources behind an Afghan-led political strategy", which "will engage the Afghan people in defence of their country to divide the insurgency and build regional cooperation." See for full details.  Back

239   (31425); see chapter 51 of this Report. Back

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