Environmental crimes become a new area of interest – says Deputy Civilian Operations Commander Commander

During her visit to EUPOL COPPS Mission last week, Birgit Loeser, Deputy Civilian Operations Commander/ Chief of Staff said that EUPOL COPPS Mission is pondering environmental crimes as another field of interest to its operations.

Madam Loeser was speaking at the sidelines of a three-day visit last week to EUPOL COPPS, a Common Security and Defence Policy Mission (CSDP) that was established in 2006 to assist the Palestinian Authority in institutions building, with a special focus on security and justice sector reforms in areas of policing and criminal justice. Environmental crimes could be a unique area of specialization to explore further.

She headed a team of 21 members representing chiefs of staff, their deputies and other colleagues from the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), the permanent structure responsible for an autonomous operational conduct of civilian CSDP operations. “We discussed cross-cutting issues. For example, environmental crime is a topic that could be (tackled). Everything is currently on climate change,” said Loeser. “In Brussels, we are having in the wider CSDP family, for example, a discussion now ‘what can we do to leave an ecological footprint of our Missions,” she added.

During the visit to East Jerusalem and Ramallah, the mother of two said that the aim of the visit was “related not specifically EUPOL COPPS but to all our civilian CSDP Missions who have specific set up and management structure and I was keen to meet with all the deputy heads of Missions and chiefs of staffs of all our civilian CSDP Missions, 11 in total, to go over a range of topics that are cross cutting and of interest to all Missions”. She added that Human Resources “is a big topic” in addition to benchmarking and reporting of Missions and gender aspects.

“These were more or less the topics that we are trying to address and also internal coordination”. Madam Loeser, who draws on 25 years of experience for working in the EU institutions, praised the performance of the EUPOL COPPS, one of the oldest among the 11 CSDP missions. “My impression is that it is quite well-run, well-established, knows what it has to do and adapts to changing environments as it should,” she added. She said that adding the environment slot to the busy schedule of the Mission, could at least contribute in raising people’s awareness in protecting the environment.

This summer the Palestinian Civil Police, the Environmental Quality Authority and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office beef up their capacity to fight environmental crimes and prosecute perpetrators. The Mission has launched a series of supportive actions to assist the Palestinian Authority in managing the increasing environmental burden on the Palestinian society. A new environmental expert is expected to arrive soon in the Mission. “Environment in conflict areas and here in Palestine and Israel would be a meaningful issue for us to deal with and assist. “