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 On the occasion of the International Anti-Corruption Day, EPAC/EACN hereby provides a short overview of its history

In the early days of 2000, following the impetus given by the Maastricht Treaty (1992), European cooperation in the police field was well under way, but a counterpart in terms of police oversight did not exist. It is important to keep in mind the fact that while the concept of "police" or "police forces" or “law enforcement” is fairly homogeneous in European countries, it is quite diverse when it comes to the concept of police oversight or monitoring mechanisms of police forces. Different legal cultures and administrative traditions have generated various different situations on the continent.

Well aware of this at the time, the Belgian Committee P and the Luxembourg IGP, joined by other police inspectorates and monitoring services or “complaints boards” of European Union Members such as Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, under the auspices of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, put all their energy into overcoming this problem and set up a framework in which the different POBs could exchange and share their knowledge and experience in the field of monitoring police forces.

Very soon, twenty-five heads of police oversight bodies representing the 15 European Union Member States of the time recognized the necessity of increased police oversight cooperation as a way of better addressing shared challenges and finding unified responses. As a first step, they decided to convene on an annual basis.

This resulted in a first colloquium, which was held in Brussels on 20 and 21 December 2001 under the Presidency of the Chairman of Committee P, André Vandoren. It was dedicated to the citizen and the functioning of police within the European Union and focused in particular on the inspection and monitoring of law enforcement as a “specific functionality”.

The conclusions issued at the end of this conference illustrated the historical nature of the event, it was thus specified:

-          “in the view of the evolution of the police action on the European scale, it was considered essential to organize such meetings regularly”,

-          “that all useful information should be exchanged, namely the reports of activities of the monitoring and inspection bodies.”

This was the starting point for European cooperation between police oversight bodies.

The following year a new colloquium took place at Europol in The Hague. Investigation methods were on the agenda.

In 2003, it was the turn of the Luxembourg IGP to welcome its partners to discuss “the contribution of police oversight bodies in improving the quality of police work”.

One of the conclusions adopted at the end of this third colloquium is a classic example of the spirit that dominated the discussions: the great importance of the exchange of experiences on the way POBs function and the methodologies adopted by their services, with the aim being "to develop similar and compatible approaches, procedures and methods beyond borders."

However, the post-conference conclusions did not mention the fight against corruption. Such a development took place between the 2003 colloquium and the 2004 Vienna Conference on the initiative of Austria. The leadership changed from the Belgian Committee P (André Vandoren) to the Austrian Bureau for Internal Affairs (Martin Kreutner). The 2004 Vienna Declaration placed anti-corruption bodies at the centre of the new cooperation framework.

This change was fundamental, as it determined the range of actions performed by the platform that was subsequently created.

Thus, in 2004, in Vienna, the annual conferences took on a new dimension. They became conferences bringing together not only the heads of police oversight bodies but also heads of national and international anti-corruption authorities.

This is how EPAC – European Partners against Corruption – was born. The cooperation between national bodies reached its specific quality. Supported by the EPAC Secretariat, an unprecedented exchange of activities was carried out.

During the 2004 annual conference in Vienna, EPAC supported the launch of a more formal European anti-corruption network, the European contact-point network against corruption (EACN). In 2006, the Austrian EU Presidency of the time, along with six other Member States, launched an initiative for a Council decision to establish this network. EPAC members again endorsed this initiative at their annual meeting in Budapest, Hungary, in November 2006. The idea was picked up again in 2008, by the then German EU Presidency. EACN was formally established by a European Council decision in 2008, to build on the existing structures of EPAC.   

EUROPEAN PARTNERS AGAINST CORRUPTION
EUROPEAN CONTACT-POINT NETWORK AGAINST CORRUPTION

 The European Partners against Corruption (EPAC) and European contact-point network against corruption (EACN) are independent forums, united in the common goal of preventing and combatting corruption.

Together, we offer a platform for anti-corruption and police oversight practitioners to share experience and cooperate across national borders in developing common strategies and high professional standards. We advocate international legal instruments and offer assistance to other bodies for establishing transparent, efficient mechanisms.

We have more than 80 authorities from Council of Europe and European Union Member States, and an ever growing number of partners.