Hearing at the European Parliament, February 23rd 2006

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Towards a European Plan for the Development Prevention Policies

On February 23rd 2006, the European Forum for Urban Safety organized a debate on the development of a plan of European prevention policies. The meeting was the first stage of an integrated perception of safety in Europe, which will end with the Zaragoza conference, between November 2nd and 4th 2006, and organized by the EFUS for all the European and international actors of prevention.

This initiative was undertaken with the participation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and gathered numerous members of parliament, local and regional elected members, and representatives of European and international institutions and organizations. 
The debates held that day highlighted the essential role of the local level in the development and the implementation of integrated prevention policies.

As an introduction, Mr Jean-Marie Cavada, President of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, underlined the importance of responding to the expectations of citizens, as they ask for progress in security as well as in the reinforcement of the cities’ social cohesion. M. Gerardo Galeote Quecedo, President of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament, underlined in his speech the ever increasing importance of the safety theme within regional development policies.

Commissioner Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission, announced the main lines and priorities of the new community action framework as regards prevention and safety (2007-2013), which will focus on inclusion, integration, education in law and European values. Besides, Commissioner Frattini underlined the necessity for national and local governments of moving closer and cooperating in order to add value to the European strategy. From now on, a clarification of the fields of expertise of the various organizations and structures, as well as a professionalization of the actors is essential to answer crises phenomenon such as the riots in France or demonstrations of intolerance.   
A proposal to the Council is being prepared in order to transform the orientations of the action plan of The Hague into concrete proposals. These orientations will be discussed with Parliament, national states, territorial governments, and civil society, in order to develop a European strategy.

Mr Freddy Thielemans, President of the EFUS and Mayor of Brussels, reminded the importance for the European Forum – a network of 300 territorial communities – to meet European institutions. Hearing the preoccupations of local elected members and inhabitants is an opportunity. It is also an opportunity to underline the necessity of integrating questions of prevention and safety within development policies, and notably the regeneration of problem areas. Safety – as it is becoming one of the main preoccupations of citizens – is not only a police and justice issue anymore, but also one concerning all public policy actors in the cities.  

The first roundtable dedicated to ‘current challenges of security : the double globalisation of the threat and answers to be given’ , dealt with the links between organized crime and mass criminality, notably through the examples of trafficking in human beings and the specific threats of racism and xenophobia, which can nourish urban or interpersonal violence. Speeches were made by Ms Beate Winkler (Head of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia), Ms Helga Konrad (Special representative of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and Mr Rinaldo Bontempi, representing Ms Mercedes Bresso (President of the Piedmont Region). The citizens’ isolation and distrust towards authorities can lead to violence and other urban conflicts. This is why it is important to develop the capacities of intervention of local governments as well as their reactions towards violence and crime. It is also necessary to reinforce the framework of international cooperation between active organizations in this field.

The second roundtable combined the interventions of Mr I.W. Opstelten, mayor of Rotterdam and reporter for the Committee of the Regions of the Hague programme, Mr Christophe Caresche, Member of the French Parliament and Deputy Mayor of Paris, and Mr. Ben Judah, from the British Home Office and representing the European Union Crime Prevention Network. It dealt with the role of the local level in the development and the implementation of integrated prevention policies:  developing policies is only possible when the actions of local and national levels are integrated. More and more often, cities become the main partners in the field of security, including in the struggle against terrorism. The reinforcement of the dialogue for the preparation of national programmes of security, and according to the recommendations of the Hague programme, should be gone deeper into. Practised by networks such as the EUCPN and the European Forum for Urban Safety, the permanent exchange of good practices for the promotion of new prevention methods is a good support for the dialogue.