At its meeting in Tampere on 15 and 16 October 1999, the European Council agreed to establish a network of national police training institutes. At the centre of this network would be a new European college, which could ultimately lead to the creation of a permanent institution.
The agreement was given effect by Council Decision of 22 December 2000 establishing a European Police College (CEPOL). The Secretariat of CEPOL was established in Denmark from 1 March 2002. Then, at the Brussels European Council in December last, the permanent home for the College was established, at Bramshill in Hampshire – the location of the English police staff college.
To date, however, CEPOL has had no formal status. It has been funded voluntarily by member states, with staff on attachment, and has been living a hand-to-mouth existence. But no longer.
On the first of this month, the commission issued a proposal (COM(2004) 623 final) for a Council Decision establishing the police college as an EU institution with a permanent seat in Bramshill.
With a projected budget of €7.5 million for 2005 and 2006, to be paid from community funds, its staff will now be EU officials. They will be devoted to training senior police officers – and other law enforcement officers – in order to "improve cooperation in criminal matters in the European Union".
Their task is to increase the the knowledge of member state police officers "of the instruments at law-enforcement services’ disposal in the European Union…" as well as their "awareness of belonging to the European Union". It will also produce common teaching modules for all member state police colleges, moving towards common (i.e. harmonised) training curricula and common certification
By any measure, this is a back-door attempt to harmonise the police forces in the member states and to indoctrinate senior police officers in the "European dimension" of policing. No senior police officer will escape the course, and attendance will inevitably be regarded as a compulsory addition to the cv of all aspiring chief constables.
That is the devil of the system. We will not see black uniformed police officers, bearing the ring of stars on our streets. They will continue to wear the familiar uniforms. But, once CEPOL is fully established, they will be commanded by fully paid-up Eurocops.