The Programme implementation proceeds in three components:
COMPONENT I – Schengen Integration
As Schengen integration remains one of the main prerogatives for the DCAF beneficiary countries, the DCAF Schengen Integration Task Force continues to provide specific assistance, utilising also Croatian and Slovenian experiences, to border police services and experts from the ministries responsible for home affairs during the process of the preparations and undertaking the responsibilities arising from EU/Schengen integration.
Regional progress in raising the standards of border security achieved in the last decade, following the principle of Integrated Border Management, has also been led through the prevailing mechanisms of regional EU membership perspective. The strategic format of the DCAF Schengen Integration Task Force brings together the political level, heads of EU integration services, heads of border police services and other relevant state authorities that play a role in the national preparation of national action plans required in the process of fulfilling the conditions under Accession Chapter 24 (“Justice, Liberty and Security”). The strategic-level Task Force works to ensure a coherent national approach to Schengen integration, a crucial element of the progress of Western Balkans countries will be making in the EU accession process, complemented by an efficient regional coordination and mutual support.
COMPONENT II – Education and Training
The necessary qualifications and ability of police educators and trainers to transfer knowledge onto the new generations represent a key element for ensuring the efficiency of police and border police forces as well as an important part of creating reliable and efficient border security systems. Since Border management in the EU is one of the most dynamic and fastest developing professions in the field of law enforcement, there is a need for increased level of competences, knowledge and range of police skills. The Programme also encourages a closer cooperation between the regional institutions responsible for police education and training, since we are aware that bridging the gap between operational needs and the knowledge required to meet those needs in the area of police and border guarding can only be achieved through mutual cooperation.
On 27th November 2012, the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the Institutions for Police Education and Training in the Western Balkans was signed in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the auspices of the DCAF Border Security Programme. At the inauguration meeting, the directors of institutions in charge of police education and training and other regional expert educators exchanged information on the latest developments and their main achievements. As founding members of the newly established Western Balkan Network, they underlined the value it brings to their mutual cooperation, exchanges of experience and joint discussions for solutions to common or similar problems.
Overall, our common endeavours in the several thematic areas under the Programme, including mitigating the challenges of illegal migration in the Southeast European region, have produced imperatives and actual operational needs to be acted upon by the regional border management authorities in the upcoming period, and our endeavours should be complemented by the education and training component of the Programme. Therefore, we have also started what we hope will soon become a successful annual tradition – the “DCAF Train-the-Trainers Summer Training Camp”, which, in 2012, took place for the first time in its restructured form in Andermatt, Switzerland. The annual course brings together the experience, knowledge and expertise of police educators and trainers in the area of (border) police education and training from Southeast European countries, EU Member States, Switzerland and partner organisations. This very approach of merging expertise in transferring knowledge, intended to contribute to the development of a common pan-European police culture, has been recognised in the European environment as innovative. The aim of the camp is to encourage educators to create effective learning situations, taking into consideration modern teaching methods and changes in how we understand learning today.
COMPONENT III – Common and Coordinated Measures
The Programme upholds an increased use of regional cross-border operational measures to counter all forms of cross-border crime, including illegal migration, as they fall under the responsibility of border police forces. This Component has facilitated progress in the establishment of Early Warning System and Risk Analysis capabilities in the Western Balkan region to enable a greater efficiency of regional border management authorities. It also fosters an enhanced regional cooperation in the area of surveillance of green and blue borders as one of the most important elements of mitigating illegal migration and tackling all other forms of organised and cross-border crime and cross-border exercises with an educational output pointing out the obstacles and gaps in the strategic, technical and legal domains.
The operational measures are planned and executed together with regional authorities, providing them with the assistance and useful experience on part of Slovenian, Croatian and DCAF experts. By transferring European practices and standards, it aims to not only accelerate the Candidate Countries’ path toward full EU membership, but also enable region-wide progress toward a levelled and sustainable playing field in Southeast European security – one that is based on a steady and coordinated development of unified standards, methods and tools. The cross-border operational cooperation is enabled by a common legal basis provided by the Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe (PCC SEE), an international treaty, whose membership has recently expanded to 6 Southeast European countries and 5 EU Member States. It aims to enhance the operational law enforcement cooperation cross-border police cooperation among the Contracting Parties based on Schengen tools and standards.