As you recall Congress approved the 4-year action plan containing three key strategic priorities
- Raising EuroCOP’s profile (internally and externally)
- Establishing and building a foundation for developing a policy environment that supports police officers, and
- Promoting and supporting policing best practice
This report will identify what has been taking place in support of those objectives.
On the first, raising EuroCOP’s profile I hope you agree with me that the regular news round ups that are circulated represent a considerable increase in communications from EuroCOP to members that both highlights some of the key activities within EuroCOP, and the institutions of Europe.
These reports have been warmly received and by their short and snappy nature are easily digested and a valuable resource.
One of the most important issues facing our members at this precise moment is of course vaccination and I wrote to Commission member STELLA KYRIAKIDES in December pressing the need for prioritisation for officers. Predictably the response laid out this was a matter for member states but our presence and pressure was noted. In many ways this also supports that important second strategic objective also.
This issue was recently covered in my recent letter to newspapers across Europe, which was also shared with member organisations in many languages for their own use. I need to express particular thanks to CCOO for their phenomenal efforts in publishing that communication to an exceptionally wide audience – the subsequent reaction to it on social media, in particular, was very supportive indeed.
Using social media channels and contacts in the Irish press I have again highlighted the unacceptable position for officers in Ireland where the Irish Government still does not afford them full bargaining rights on conditions for their members. I know our colleagues in AGSI and the GRA welcome this support.
We have supported one of our member organisations over their frustrations on the approach to social dialogue in Malta, and correspondence to and from the Prime Minister of Malta’s office is testimony to that. This support was discussed in the Maltese parliament and subject to reporting in the Maltese press. Although unrelated to the purpose of the meeting, this issue was known to Commissioner Helena Dalli when we held our meeting in February, demonstrating how far our influence is being felt. The promotion of social dialogue also reaches into our third strategic objective.
Beyond that we have been reaching across borders courting new members.
Early in the New Year – Through the ETUC, where we are ably represented by the Vice President, we became aware of the deteriorating labour situation in Slovenia. Our head of office contacted Slovenian Police Unions to inquire as to the situation they faced. Following that engagement EuroCOP was able to fully endorse the ETUC position criticising the situation there. We are now fostering that important link with a potential new member organisation.
We have maintained warm relationships with a former member organisation SinaPOL and we look forward to welcoming them back to the EuroCOP family later today.
You will also hear later, on an issue we know is of importance to you all; that is the joint project with EuroMIL, EPSU, and EuroCOP on the promotion of Trade Union Rights.
I was pleased to be able to offer support to UNI Europa, the European Service Workers Union in their campaign for collective agreements across their sector and hope, along with our Vice President, to be able to join their conference later today and tomorrow as a guest,
And of-course, every single meeting and contact we make at European Parliament, Commission, ETUC, and ETUF level leaves an indelible mark.
It is almost impossible to separate activity into neat and tidy areas as supporting one strategic objective usually has an automatic benefit for another.
That is certainly true for our second strategic objective, where almost everything we are working on has a direct benefit to the first and third.
Our advisors at Cicero deserve acknowledging here. Their alertness to developing policy initiatives means EuroCOP is able to contribute not just at the formal parliamentary level, but also at the crucial development stages in advance of that.
There are numerous examples from the previous few months but to show a spread of the nature of our contributions I will touch on three – all very different and all highly relevant to policing in their own way.
On the 29th December EuroCOP submitted a response to the Victims’ Rights Directive Road map. Road map contributions are deliberately short as they represent the very beginning of considerations at a European level. More detailed contributions can be made as the proposals themselves develop.
The three headline issues in the EuroCOP response were
- There is a need to analyse the available data across member states to better understand why gaps and differences in practice have arisen.
- EuroCOP strongly supports improvements to the post crime experience of victims.
- The responsibility to support victims should not fall solely on the police.
On the 18 January 2021 and in advance of a Council of Europe debate on Ethnic Profiling in Europe to be held on the 28th January EuroCOP wrote to the Rapporteur for the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. EuroCOP’s letter made the following observations.
- EuroCOP welcomed the debate and recognised the timing was particularly relevant given concerns on racial profiling.
- EuroCOP agreed that unlawful ethnic profiling was harmful for society and led to challenges for the police
- EuroCOP supported investment in education and communication to address concerns over ethnic profiling.
Without being too blunt, the issue of race and concern over policing of black and minority communities has never been more relevant and is not something EuroCOP can afford to ignore. I will make this report available in document form after this meeting and will include a link to the COE debate on this subject for your information.
A full copy of the background to the debate can be viewed on the COE website or at the following link https://pace.coe.int/en/files/28889/html
Also, on the second strategic objective, although this could equally sit more comfortably in the third, is the work we have been doing in respect of the refresh of the European Code of Police Ethics and the refreshed EuroPOL mandate
The Code of Police Ethics has featured in every discussion we have had with all members of the European Parliament, Commission and beyond. The refresh of the EuroPOL mandate has been a live issue for many months and was raised by my predecessor with Commissioner Ylva Johansson last Autumn. It is probably not unfair to say that the opportunity for EuroCOP to meaningfully contribute to these policy areas has never been greater than it is now. I will provide more detail on the code of ethics later in the meeting.
Finally, on this area. It is all to easy to listen to reports and receive papers and wonder if what we are doing makes a difference to legislators. we should take confidence that they do as the recent Commission press releases on Human trafficking, and cross border cooperation in tacking organised crime both include the EuroCOP contributions that were made several months ago in time of the previous congressional period.
And now the third strategic objective where it would be easy to simply point to the work we are undertaking on the code of police ethics and the EuroPOL mandate. And whilst absolutely accurate to draw the link, this in itself does not cover all there is to report.
We remain committed to the Occupational Health and Safety event later in the year. We continue to develop the content and format for that event but are looking at musculoskeletal disorders and their impact on policework, and psychological issues that law enforcement officers face.
On the 15th of March Angles Bosch participated in a webinar in respect of public order policing, an issue that is highly relevant given the recent disorder in Catalonia. Speakers included the former chief constable of the PSNI Sir Hugh Orde and representatives from the offices of the police ombudsman’s offices in both Catalonia and Northern Ireland. This webinar looked at refocusing public order from simple enforcement to a policing model built on freedom and safety.
Colleagues this is but a summary of the activities the Executive Committee has been involved in; there is so much more I could have added, from the work on disability rights, to the issues of hate crime, or to the more familiar issues of the challenges for our Greek colleagues due to migration.
I hope you like this format of a summary report rather than the pages and pages of materials that was the practice in the past. This report has been deliberately linked to our strategic objectives as ultimately that is what has been asked of us.
Should you wish a return to that format I will of course happily do so but it is my view this shorter format lends itself to easier upward reporting to your own member organisations.