29513 3/24/2005 14:40 05BUCHAREST748 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000748
DEPT FOR INL/AAE, EUR/ACE, EUR/NCE, EUR/SCE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ASEC, PREL, ECON, EU, GR, TU, SR, HU, SL, BK, MK, BU, HR, RO, law enforcement SUBJECT: SECI CENTER AND BRUSSELS: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
1. SECI Center DoS Coordinator traveled to Brussels and met with EU officials concerning SECI initiatives and EU plans to become more involved with the Center. Though EU officials were very interested in the current work of SECI, they were reluctant to commit any resources despite the reality that SECI will physically sit within the EU in two years. SECI remains dependent on outside funding and the lack of a critical mass of support by the EU leaves only USG funding to continue the work of the SECI Center.
LIMITS OF BRUSSEL'S IMAGINATION
2. In meetings with senior EC officials in February, the SECI Center DoS Coordinator discussed possible future engagement by Brussels in SECI Center affairs. Michel Peretti, Head of Unit for the Western Balkans, stressed the Commission's view that in order for Brussels to adopt a closer relationship with the SECI Center, EUROPOL would have to be involved. Throughout the discussions, Commission officials stressed that institutions, in this case EUROPOL, were the critical element in any policy equation regarding law enforcement. Peretti envisioned SECI becoming a EUROPOL office over the course of time. To achieve this goal, however, every current member state of SECI Center would have to be a member of the European Union. This would be a process that would take years, if not decades, and is unrealistic in terms of an overall strategy for the Center. Currently, three of twelve states are EU members. In two years time, two additional states (Romania, Bulgaria) will join and finally, in three to five years possibly one additional (Croatia). Hence, even at the end of the accession process, only half the SECI members could reasonably be expected to be in the EU.
3. The idea that EUROPOL would have an office built upon the present SECI Center is unachievable in any foreseeable time frame. Nevertheless, Commission officials and DoS SECI Coordinator agreed that the work currently being done at SECI deserves full support from both Washington and Brussels, no matter what the long-term future holds for the Center. Further contact and discussions between DoS Coordinator and Commission officials was agreed to in order to draw out EU plans for SECI in the future, plans that to date have not been communicated fully by Brussels.
Trust but Verify
4. Senior Commission advisors and experts were both interested in and impressed with the Center's issues, notably the restarting of the Financial Crime Task Force and the continued progress of the Southeast Europe Prosecutor's Advisory Working Group (SEEPAG). In the case of the Financial Crime Task Force, they were pleased that such an initiative was finally moving forward in a region, which has had a "blind spot" for such criminal activities in the past. Similarly with SEEPAG, there was great interest in the innovative fashion that it is incorporating the information sharing process pioneered by the police and customs officials at the Center. Though the suspicion of past and current USG involvement in the Center has not been completely erased, the meetings with DoS SECI Coordinator provided the opportunity to look toward long-range engagement in the Center.
5. This initial meeting between DoS SECI Coordinator and Commission officials was designed as a "meet and greet", rather than as an opportunity to explore substantive issues requiring immediate solutions. To date, Brussels has not been forthcoming with resources in support of the SECI Center, despite the fact in two years the Center will be physically located within the EU and the EU recently drafted a comprehensive and often positive critique of the Center's activities and structure. The EU's reliance on EUROPOL for all law enforcement matters will at the end of the day work against the achievements of the Center, as well as the EU's future engagement in the Center. The SECI Center has grown into a transborder crime fighting model which is beginning to bear fruit with arrests, convictions and regional cooperation between capitals. A new approach by the EU will be required so as not to lose the capabilities and full regional coverage so far developed. In addition, future discussions with the EU must seek Brussels' commitment to help support SECI with resources. NOTE: This and other SECI related cables are available on the Bucharest SIPERnet site under - RSO, Law Enforcement. DELARE