Karlsruhe, Germany, 13 May 2014 – The 2014 General Assembly of the European Forum for Urban Security ended with the adoption of an open letter to the European institutions, in which Efus members call for further recognition of the role of local and regional authorities in future security and justice policies. The letter, in which Efus members express their needs and expectations, also emphasises that efforts for safety and security in Europe should be based on a preventive approach and stresses in particular the cost efficiency of prevention. (Click here to read the integral version of the letter).
This open letter was the outcome of a day of debate on the theme “Europe and prevention: the needs of local decision-makers and practitioners”, which constituted Efus’ contribution to the debate on the renewal of the European framework programme in the fields of justice and home affairs.
Held a day after Efus’ statutory general assembly, this debate was organised jointly with the German Forum DEFUS as part of the international Forum of the German Congress on Crime Prevention, which brought together some 3,000 stakeholders of crime prevention.
Debate on Europe and prevention
2014 is an eventful year for Europe with the European elections in May, the renewal of the European Commission, the start of a new programme cycle of EU subsidies, and discussions about the new European framework programme in the fields of justice and home affairs that will succeed the Stockholm programme. It was therefore an obvious choice for Efus to put Europe on the agenda of the thematic debate of its 2014 general assembly, as Efus President, Guilherme Pinto, and DEFUS President, Dr Martin Schairer, both said in their introductory speeches.
The debate started with an overview of the European political landscape and the issues at stake. Efus Executive Director, Elizabeth Johnston, noted that it is the first election of a European parliament that has co-decision power in the fields of justice and home affairs, in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon. She added that it is also the first time that the composition of the European Commission will take into account the results of the European elections, in which candidates from several political parties are running for President of the Commission, which constitutes a real progress for the democratic functioning of the EU.
As the European Union has important powers in this policy field, the discussion on the new policy framework that will succeed the current Stockholm programme is of importance for all stakeholders working in urban security and crime prevention. Ms Johnston also presented the new opportunities for EU funding resulting from the EU 2014-2020 budget discussed last year. (Click here to see her presentation).
Earlier this year, Efus was auditioned by the Committee of the Regions of the European Union as part of its preparatory work for the drafting of an opinion on justice and home affairs. The CoR was scheduled to participate in the GA but unfortunately had to cancel. Efus also met with Gilles de Kerchove and his team from the Secretariat General of the European Council to present its views on post-Stockholm programming. Two other organisations were invited to Karlsruhe: The Informal Network on Organised Crime of the European Union and the Confederation of European Probation. Cyril Springveld, of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, presented the work of the Informal Network and stressed the important challenge posed to Europe by organised crime. He added that local authorities could play an important role in fighting organised crime and proposed to associate Efus to the activities of the network.
The European aspects of local crime prevention
The first round table discussion of the day was dedicated to the European dimensions of local crime prevention. Participants explained how Europe and European issues affect directly their work at the local level. The First Deputy Mayors of Mannheim and Karlsruhe (Germany), Christian Specht and Wolfram Jäger, the Director general in charge of security at the Generalitat (autonomous government) of Catalonia (Spain), Maite Casado Cardaso, the Advisor to the Mayor of Milan (Italy), Andrea Carobene, the Advisor to the Governor of Hainaut (Belgium), Yves Van de Vloet, and the head of the Municipal Guard of Gdansk (Poland) and Chairman of the Local Safety Commission Union of the Baltic Cities, Leszek Walczak, discussed the fact that many security issues have a cross-border dimension or no borders at all (for instance cyber crime).
Among other themes discussed were also migratory flows within the EU, trafficking in human beings, organised crime, tourist safety, and security at sports events, all issues which are challenging for local authorities. Through various examples, participants showed that European cooperation is crucial to address these challenges. (Efus members will soon be able to download the minutes of this discussion).
What local authorities expect from EU policies
Following a conference break, during which delegates were informed about the toolkit of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights “Joining up fundamental rights”, the second round table discussion was dedicated to the expectations of local and regional authorities about EU policies.
Efus President, Guilherme Pinto, the President of the French Forum (FFSU), Bernard Rivaillé, the Directors for prevention of the cities of Brussels and Liege (Belgium), Véronique Ketelaer and Catherine Schlitz, and Koen Goei of the Confederation of European Probation, started the discussion that ultimately led to the adoption of the open letter to the European institutions.
Delegates all agreed that the role of local authorities should be further recognised by the EU and that EU budgets should, at least to a certain degree, reflect their contribution in making European towns and cities safe and enjoyable to live. Participants emphasised that what they are asking for is not only money but recognition. The general consensus is that European policies would gain from taking inspiration in local actions: security policies should be holistic and based on prevention. Delegates also advocated evidence-based crime prevention policies because they are more efficient and called for the EU to make use of these insights and to support the development of a knowledge base, possibly even a European Observatory. Another theme of discussion was the usefulness of exchanging good practices within networks such as Efus, which participants would like to see better recognised and supported.
The session concluded with the proposal of an open letter to the European institutions by DEFUS President, Dr Martin Schairer, which was adopted by the assembly.
Efus statutory General Assembly
During the statutory General Assembly, Efus members drew a balance of last year’s activities; they also discussed the association’s financial results, which were validated, and ongoing and future projects.
In accordance with the statutes of the association, Efus members elected a third of the members of Efus’ executive committee. (Click here to see the new composition of the Executive Committee). The 2014 General Assembly also took the statutory decision to allow for electronic voting, through which members will be able to vote at a distance.
The Assembly also welcomed guest cities and organisations interested in joining the European Forum. In particular, the Mayor of the host city, Karlsruhe, Dr Frank Mentrup, and his Deputy in Charge of Safety, Wolfram Jäger, who both participated in the 2014 General Assembly and the debate on the following day, announced that their city wishes to join the European Forum.
German Congress on Crime prevention
The 2014 Efus General Assembly was part of the 19th German Congress on Crime Prevention (DPT). The German Congress is the largest conference on crime prevention in Europe. It brings together every year some 3,000 participants and provides year round information and documentation on crime prevention. The German Congress is led by Efus Vice-President, Erich Marks, who had invited the General Assembly to Germany. Efus has been international partner of the DPT for years.
In 2014, it co-organised the international forum of the Congress and contributed with a presentation of the SURVEILLE project (on surveillance technologies) to the German speaking part of the Congress.
This year again, Efus and DEFUS presented their work in the exhibition area of the Congress, where some 150 key German stakeholders in prevention had information booths. This allowed the GA delegates to get a better understanding of the German “security landscape”. The German Congress organised translated guided tours of the exhibition on local and regional crime prevention in Germany and the prevention work of the German police forces.
The 19th German Congress on Prevention was dedicated to the three main areas of crime prevention – practice, politics and research. The scientific report which was prepared for the Congress assesses the situation in each of these fields and more importantly underlines the importance of establishing synergies among these three areas in order to ensure the success of crime prevention.
The report recognises the progress achieved at the local level in the last 25 years. Although it emphasises that there is still room for improvement, the report notes that practice and research cross-fertilise one another.
In its final Karlsruhe Declaration, the Congress stressed the need for politics to fully embrace the idea of prevention. Instead of more of the same, politics should better take into account the scientific knowledge that has been accumulated in the field and provide stakeholders of prevention with the institutional framework they need. The Karlsruhe Declaration, which is mainly addressed to German institutions, and specifically the federal government, is very much in line with and complementary to the Efus’ open letter to EU institutions, which was also briefly presented at the closing session of the German Congress.
Pictures of the event are available here
The programme of the event is available here