Blog AnalysisBalkansMissions Operations

The Eulex mission in Kosovo changes focus, and loses weight

European border guards at the start of the mission, in 2009 (credit: Council of the EU)

(BRUSSELS2) The mission to strengthen the rule of law (EULEX) in Kosovo will reduce its personnel and refocus its missions in the country from this summer, Hansjörg Haber, the operations commander, announced today (25 May). civilians of the European Union. “ Our message is clear: the Eulex mission will not stay in Kosovo forever. Much progress has been made. Eulex needs to adapt and prepare for this disengagement. » The mission will thus only have a staff of 2000 people compared to more than 3000 currently authorized: 1200 international experts + 1000 locals (*). Part of the missions will be carried out by the special representative and the European Union delegation on site.

Mission Focus Change

The mission will also focus on certain issues, such as strengthening justice in particular. And its organization will be reviewed. While today it has three pillars (police, customs, justice), it will be restructured into two pillars: what we call MMA (monitoring, mentoring, advising, in other words observation, assistance and council) and the executive mission (justice, police, customs). Overall, it is justice or rather the legal system that will be prioritized. In particular, the special prosecutor's office will be strengthened. It is currently staffed by 11 European prosecutors and 10 local prosecutors, assisted by 13 European and 20 local lawyers; it should be significantly increased. The stock of files is, in fact, significant: there are currently 316 cases under investigation, half of which are financial crimes, a quarter war crimes and another quarter organized crime. The objective will be to deepen and accelerate the current procedures and, above all, to concentrate on the “hottest” files: war crimes, fight against corruption, organized crime.

This change in focus and staff is accompanied by a reduction in budget, as mentioned previously; this rising to just over 100 million euros. A question of realism too. We had to find the means to launch the new European missions. For an equal budget, it was therefore necessary to draw on the budgets – and also on the potential staff – of the mission in Kosovo.

Decrease in FPU police units

The number of police units (FPU) will go from 4 to 1 (which amounts to a return to reality), since only one remains: the Polish FPU, with a staff of around 100 people. Romanians, French and Italians having already left the field. The relay will have to be carried out by local police officers. Kosovo "will have to take more responsibility for security" confirms Haber. This function is currently devolved to the Poles but " if there are other volunteers, we are interested” explained a European diplomat.

…and creation of an SPU unit

In fact, part of the functions devolved to the FPUs will be allocated to SPUs (Supplementary Uniformed Police), who are in the process of being recruited especially for this purpose (the deadline to apply is... today). These SPUs will thus carry out static guarding of strategic locations, such as for example the Mitrovica court. This will further relieve the sole remaining FPU unit which will be able to concentrate on maintaining order and crowd control. This new force will consist of around 100 people divided into three platoons and a support unit. The equivalent of an old model FPU. But this will be entirely covered by the community budget.

New planning...

The strategic review of the mission was carried out for several months, since the fall of 2011, under the leadership of the CMPD – the strategic planning directorate of the diplomatic service. The main axes were discussed and approved by EU ambassadors to the Political and Security Committee (PSC). A new Conops (concept of operation) was presented in March. The operation plan was approved today (May 25), as point A (without discussion) at the COPS. And the decision modifying the mandate will be approved – in the form of a written procedure – next week by the 27.

…and a new decision

The adoption of this decision required some adjustments, particularly regarding the designation of Kosovo's institutions. They refused to allow the mission to take place solely from the perspective of Security Council Resolution 1244, while the 5 EU states which have not recognized Kosovo wanted this mention to be maintained. Following the “asteric agreement” – negotiated under the aegis of the European Union (with Robert Cooper as chief negotiator) – a footnote specifies that this mention does not prejudge recognition of the Kosovo, and refers to both Resolution 1244, the declaration of independence of Kosovo and the judgment of the International Court of Justice. This is the first time that this “asterisk” has found concrete form in an official document.

Waiting for a new boss

A new head of mission must be appointed. But the first recruitment carried out did not bring in candidates with sufficiently refined profiles. According to the information we have received, two candidates were in the running: a Finn and a Pole. In the meantime, it is the current head of mission Xavier Bout de Marnhac who remains on the ground, and could be extended beyond June, in order to carry out “the transition in good conditions” explains a European official. This mission in Kosovo is, in fact, rather difficult and delicate to carry out. With interlocutors whether Kosovar or Serbian, experienced in all political maneuvers. American and Russian diplomats also remain very active, supporting their respective protégés.

(*) This figure corresponds to the “authorized” maximum, i.e. budgeted. This does not automatically mean the number of people on the ground. So currently, there are between 1400 and 1500 international experts. Certain calls for recruitment were therefore not launched to renew the workforce. Which means the reduction has already started.

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).