Cablegate: Seci Center and Brussels: A View From the Other

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

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.

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.

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