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European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL)

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 12 March 2015

The Government did not opt in to the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation establishing a European Union agency for law enforcement training (CEPOL), repealing and replacing the Council decision 2005/681/JHA.

The Commission’s proposal is intended to improve EU security through the implementation, by CEPOL, of a new training approach for EU law enforcement officers. This approach is set out in the European law enforcement training scheme (LETS), which aims to equip law enforcement officials of all ranks with the knowledge and skills they need to prevent and combat cross-border crime.

The Government value UK membership of CEPOL as currently established. It brings together senior police officers from forces across Europe and encourages cross-border co-operation in the fight against crime by organising training activities and sharing research findings. However, the Government are concerned that the proposed regulation goes beyond the current scope for CEPOL and creates additional obligations for member states.

The proposed measure gives CEPOL the legal mandate to implement the LETS as set out in the Commission communication published in March 2013. The Government are concerned that the LETS limits the flexibility for member states to decide how law enforcement training should be delivered, something that should remain very much their responsibility. The Government consider that the professionalism and training of the police and other law enforcement agencies should be led and developed by those organisations themselves, at a national or local level.

The draft regulation also mandates member states to establish a national unit responsible for carrying out tasks obliging them to contribute to CEPOL’s work programmes and to supply, and respond to, requests for information. The existing Council decision left it to member states to decide whether to set up a national contact point, whose remit is the effective co-operation between CEPOL and the relevant national training institute. This function is currently carried out by the College of Policing and the Government are concerned that any additional obligation would represent increased financial and administrative burdens for the college.

The Government believe that the focus of an EU-wide law enforcement training strategy should be to encourage member states to collaborate on matters that are mutually beneficial but to avoid mandating training requirements. The Government do not want the police and other UK law enforcement agencies to be accountable to an EU agency and we need to be satisfied that our training and other operational priorities are not subject to EU determination.

The option to opt in to this measure post-adoption remains open to the UK and Government will make a decision on that when the final text has been agreed.