26th Jun 2017

EU prepares for police mission in Kosovo

The EU is stepping up preparations to increase its presence in Kosovo once the future status of the territory has been decided, according to Balkans news agency DTT-NET.

But any security mission in the region is likely to put a serious strain on the EU’s finances.

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EU officials on Friday (7 April) announced that foreign ministers will on Monday agree to create a team of security and law experts, charged with planning and designing a new role for the 25 nation bloc in providing security to Kosovo.

"The (EU) Council is due to adopt a Joint Action establishing an EU planning team regarding an envisaged EU crisis management operation in the field of rule of law and possible other areas", said an official from Austria, which currently holds the EU presidency.

The decision will represent the first concrete move by the EU concerning its role and presence in Kosovo after ongoing talks on the territory's future status are finalised.

Talks mediated by the United Nations are ongoing to determine Kosovo's future status as either a Serbian province with great autonomy or a fully independent state.

The EU’s planned move is part of a wider aim of the bloc to increase its role in Kosovo after the status of Kosovo is resolved.

The idea of an enhanced role in securing Kosovo was initially developed by EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana together with EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn, who have pushed the idea since 2004.

A copy of a December 2005 report, seen by DTT-NET.COM, says "in view of the European perspective of Kosovo and weak local capacity, an EU follow-up operation to UNMIK police is likely to be needed"

The UN Mission (UNMIK), which has administered Kosovo since 1999, is responsible for all law and order in Kosovo and has its own international police structures with more than 3,500 officers from 49 countries.

Huge financial burden

But the exact form of an EU police mission still has to be decided.

"Should such a mission be limited to mentoring, monitoring and institution capacity building or should executive functions be envisaged together with the monitoring and capacity building functions?" asks the Solana-Rehn report.

The report calls upon EU states to be prepared to support the union's biggest and most expensive mission ever.

"With current expectation of a target date of around 1 January 2007, the […] budget for 2007 would be significantly affected. While it is premature to make precise budget estimates, it is clear that an EU mission in Kosovo would by far be the most expensive and demanding operation since the creation of the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP)."

Although Mr Solana and Mr Rehn have not put forward any exact figures, they said the amount needed could be a great burden for the EU's 2007-2013 budget.

The costs would be high because the EU could end up financing not only its own mission, but the entire new international presence in Kosovo, which according to EU officials would be similar to the current international presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"The EU contribution to the future international presence may have to include the funding of any future interim civilian administration structure to implement the status settlement, as well as a future ESDP operation for police and rule of law," Mr Solana and Mr Rehn write.

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