With over 70 participants from eleven Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay) and various EU institutions, the meeting was held to present the initiative organised by the EU programme EL PAcCTO to create a Latin America Internal Security Committee (CLASI).
The introduction to the session was attended by Anna Terrón, director of the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), Laurent Muschel, director of law enforcement and security at the European Commission Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (HOME), Raoul Ueberecken, director for Home Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, Árpád Csekő, policy officer with the European External Action Service, SEAE, Jorge de la Caballería, acting director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), and Fernando Grande-Marlaska, minister of the interior.the S
All of them have highlighted the enormous progress that the creation of CLASI would entail for cooperation and coordination against organised crime in Latin America and in terms of the dialogue between the two regions.
Regarding EL PAcCTO, FIIAPP’s director Anna Terrón said that “this programme focuses not only on security aspects, but also on justice and on penitentiary institutions, so it aims to respond to challenges along the entire criminal justice chain. She also underlined the importance of improving public policies to guarantee security and development.
Laurent Muschel, director for security at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (HOME), highlighted the role of COSI and EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platforms against Criminal Threats) in fighting crime in Europe. “We believe in cooperation with Latin America and we believe that there is room for improvement in this regard”. He also congratulated the EL PAcCTO programme on its work and called for the programme to have a greater presence on the EMPACT platforms. In the same vein, Raoul Ueberecken, Director for Home Affairs at the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, said that “empowering the security forces has been one of the greatest successes of the European Union“.
In his speech, Jorge de la Caballería, the acting director for Latin America and the Caribbean with the Directorate-General for Development and Cooperation at the European Commission, said that “with CLASI the aim is not to impose a certain model, but rather create a space for political dialogue between the two regions”. The same idea was reinforced by the Spanish minister of the interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who underlined the importance of cooperation in facing up to threats that “require us to go beyond the national framework and act together“.
On the part of Latin America, the inauguration was attended by, among other representatives of Interior/Security/Government ministries, the minister of the interiorChilea and the under-secretary of public pecurity and pitizen protection Mexica. The representatives from the two countries expressed their commitment to a more determined fight against organised crime and their interest in the creation of CLASI.
A Latin American Security Committee to coordinate action against crime
EL PAcCTO proposes the creation of a Latin America Internal Security Committee (CLASI) inspired by the EU’s experience with COSI (Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security), created in 2010.
COSI facilitates and implements common strategies among member countries and ensures the effectiveness of joint operations in police, customs and judicial cooperation. It also guarantees the coherency of the actions taken by agencies such as EUROPOL, FRONTEX and EUROJUST. To support its action at a strategic level, COSI uses tools such as SOCTA (Serious And Organised Crime Threat Assessment), which offers a periodic analysis of the main threats to the European Union in the area of serious and organised crime.
Based on EL PAcCTO’s experience in the region since 2017 and considering the threat posed by organised crime to Latin American countries, the creation of a high-level regional dialogue space is considered highly relevant to develop joint strategies and promote closely articulated public policies among its members. It is with this objective that CLASI would be created, supported by various Directorates-General of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European External Action Service.
In addition to defining the best strategies for joint action, CLASI would have its own assessment tool similar to SOCTA: the Latin American Threat Documentation and Assessment Tool (IDEAL), which would involve actively collaborating with AMERIPOL to work together on threats to public and civil security in the region.
This initiative is the most strategic initiative that EL PAcCTO has promoted since its inception and it is considered that, with the creation of CLASI, there would be a decisive change in the approach to organised crime in Latin America and in the way to effectively combat its various manifestations. It would also facilitate dialogue between high-level stakeholders in Latin America and the European Union on security issues and on dealing with joint threats.
Two more meetings, in Latin America and Europe, to make the creation of CLASI official
Since the first virtual CLASI presentation meeting, a face-to-face working meeting with high-level representatives of the countries that would make up the Committee has been scheduled to take place in Latin America in October, if the health situation allows it. At this meeting, the operation of COSI, the process for defining and implementing the political cycle in the area of citizen security and draft internal regulations will all be presented in detail, and work will be carried out in preparation for the CLASI ministerial meeting.
This ministerial encounter is scheduled to be held in Brussels and The Hague, following a meeting to be held by COSI in November, pandemic permitting. It would serve to formalise the creation of CLASI, discuss an initial multi-year work plan and reflect on possible shared priorities among member countries.