Azja Bezpieczeństwo Bezpieczeństwo międzynarodowe CII petersberg series

EUPOL Afghanistan: too small, too slow, too late?


EUPOL-Logo source: Europol AfghanistanLaunched on 15th June 2007, the European Union Police Mission (EUPOL) in Afghanistan is an integral part of the international community’s efforts to stabilise and reconstruct the country after the ousting of the Taliban. At the International Afghanistan Conference of November 2001 in Petersberg, an agreement was reached on the division of tasks in the security sector amongst so-called “Lead Nations”, with responsibilities shared as follows:

  • Japan: Disarmament, Demilitarisation, and Reintegration (DDR)
  • Italy: Justice
  • Germany: Police
  • United Kingdom: Counter narcotics
  • United States: Army

In June 2007, complemented by the newly created German Police Project Team (GPPT) which concentrated on police training and Focused District Development (FDD) initially in Kabul and in the Northern regions, EUPOL Afghanistan took over the responsibility for the overall coordination of the police reform in Afghanistan from Germany’s Police Project Office (GPPO).

The EU mission aims to contribute to the establishment of a trusted and efficient police service under Afghan ownership, and to improve the interactions between the policing sector and the wider criminal justice system. The mission monitors, mentors, advises and trains certain sections of the Afghan Ministry of Interior, the Afghan Ministry of Justice and the Afghan Attorney General’s Office according to international standards and within the framework of the rule of law and human rights.

 Legal basis

EUPOL Afghanistan Crisis Management Concept was adopted on 12 February 2007, and the mission was initially set up for a period of three years. It was established by the Council Joint Action 2007/369/CFSP of 30 May 2007 and its strategic objectives aimed at:

  • developing police command, control and communication for the Ministry of Interior and the Afghan National Police;
  • contributing to the establishment of a pro-active, intelligence-led police force;
  • building the capabilities of the Criminal Investigations Department;
  • developing anti-corruption capacities;
  • improving cooperation and coordination between Police and Judiciary;
  • mainstreaming gender and human rights aspects within the Ministry of Interior and the ANP.

EUPOL Afghanistan’s mandate was extended for another three year period in 2010, namely until 31 May 2013, in order to cover the Transition.

 The security context

The country’s police forces suffer from significant shortages of firearms, munitions, vehicles and communication systems, and their poor salaries make them prone to corruption or entanglement in criminal activities. Numerous accusations of torture and other human rights violations have rendered the ANP to be seen as one of the causes of the country’s security problems rather than as a means to resolving those. The mission assists the Afghan National Police (ANP) in its consolidation as a multi-ethnic police, free from political interference and as a police that is at the service of the Afghan people. A strong, reliable and trustworthy police force is, indeed, a necessary element to ensure peace, security and safety to the country’s population in the present context.

EUROPOL Afghanistan, source:
EUROPOL Afghanistan, source:

Characteristics of the mission

The mission staff is composed of experienced officers from EU Member States and from partner nations such as Canada, Croatia, New Zealand, and Norway. Current mission strength is of approximately 300 international and 200 local staff, with Germany providing the biggest contingent.

The EU is, thus, training Afghan police officers, while working on the rule of law component through mentoring and training activities in three main areas:

  • police-justice cooperation;
  • anti-corruption;
  • human rights and gender.

 Yet, the mission’s potential has been limited by its inability to finance training, equipment and construction projects itself (as EUPOL lacks its own budget). The support of GPPT has been significant in this field, providing infrastructures such as police academies, training centres and police headquarters set up to operate and to be maintained for the long term.

 Cooperation with NATO’s Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A)

The limits to EUPOL Afghanistan and the continuously low level of engagement of EU Member States led the US to establish a NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A), aiming at bringing about a different approach for a more military police-building. With the view of bringing back fighting troops from the country, the US strategy for police reform was based on the willingness to create a police force that could engage in robust policing activities. Beyond the difference in approach to policing, a total of $11,2 billion were allocated to the NTM-A for the fiscal year 2012 of which about $4 billion dedicated to developing the ANP, whereas only €54,6 million were made available to EUPOL between May 2010 and May 2011. These numbers are reflected in terms of personnel numbers, with NTM-A providing for around 2,000 staff as opposed to the low strength of EUPOL Afghanistan. Since May 2011, efforts to increase the coordination between NTM-A and EUPOL Afghanistan were stepped up. Their complementing roles were mutually reinforced in order to achieve the goal of providing an ANP responsible for population security and law enforcement that would be accountable to and serving the Afghan people.


The EU’s policy mission in Afghanistan suffers from a number of home-grown problems that relate primarily to the fact that it is understaffed, ill-conceived, under-funded, and unable to fully sustain its activities throughout the whole territory of the Afghan state. As a result, delays in achieving the set milestones are frequent and the goals are still far off. Despite the importance of the police and judicial reform, EUPOL Afghanistan has remained largely overshadowed by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which has afflicted significant losses amongst European troop contributing nations. Common awareness and interest in the EU’s mission is very low, not only at the level of the wider public, but also amongst EU decision-makers and heads of governments. If achieving more coherence and better coordination of the police reform was the main objective that led to the EU’s takeover from Germany, its record has been rather disappointing; the coordination between EU instruments under the European Commission and the police training mission have been insufficient, while the difference in approach to police reform amongst the EU, its Member States, the US and other international actors have clearly been undermining EU efforts. With the end of the mission looming (unless extended at the last moment), the upcoming withdrawal of the NATO’s ISAF by the end of 2014, and persisting rampant corruption, the future of the ANP remains a matter of concern. If police manning levels keep rising in order to meet the intended targets, their capability, performance, impartiality and reliability are yet to be proved.

Myrto Hatzigeorgopoulos – CII Collaborator – is currently a Research Affiliate at ISIS Europe working on CSDP, emerging threats, EU-NATO relations, as well as conflict management. She recently completed a Master of Arts in International Conflict Studies at the War Studies Department of King’s College London (UK) with an award from the Belgian Benevolent Society. She obtained a BA in Political Science from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium) and participated in the ERASMUS programme, studying for a year at the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany). Prior to joining ISIS, she worked at the European Parliament as a Schuman scholar and served as an intern at the Greek Embassy in Brussels. 

See also:

One Response

Comments are closed.