On the very first day the Belgian Presidency of the European Union started, Belgium organised a kick-off conference in Brussels.
The conference “Leadership: Gift or Learning Process”, which took place on 1-2 July 2010, saw 48 participants gather from 17 EU Member States, five other countries, the European Commission, Association of European Police Colleges (AEPC) and CEPOL Secretariat.
The event was launched by the Belgian Presidency team, Maurice Petit, President of the AEPC and Director of the Belgian Police College and moderated by Gyorgy Drotos, Associate Professor of Corvinus University at the Institute of Management in Budapest, Hungary.
Reinhard Priebe, Director “Security” of the European Commission (DG JLS), highlighted that the Belgium Presidency CEPOL team had not only started with a working conference on the first day of their Presidency, but also at 08:00 hours on the morning in the capital of Belgium, which also happens to be the ‘capital of the European Union’.
The conference was divided into four main parts:
- Conceptual integration
- (Potential) outcomes and (future) reflections
With regard to the question ‘Leadership: Gift or Learning Process’, a common theme that emerged was: You may be a born leader but you surely and necessarily gain from experience.
Also mentioned was the “authority crisis” in police leadership and the fact that “lead policing against a context of (economic) crisis is challenging: outsourcing, internal sourcing, shared services, and bigger forces are issues for tomorrow.’ Therefore, efficiency and performance must be considered more now than ever.
The question of the target group was also addressed: is it from the target group that the outcome will come or is it from the desired outcome CEPOL wants to achieve that the right target group will be selected?
The necessity to come up with a better common understanding of minimum common standards in the field was stressed, as was exchanging best practice (bench learning) and opening to a wider international environment.
It was also stressed that law enforcement organisations would have to face the new challenges (newly identified threats). Yet, as a number of leaders fail in managing change, law enforcement organisations have to transform in to “change-ready organisations” to anticipate the necessity to adapt constantly to new environment and challenges.
The issue of the international experience weighting for leaders within law enforcement today was raised: it is compulsory in some countries, but is it taken into account in all countries?
Leadership is a crucial challenge for the future, particularly as leaders give the impression of what to do. The conference was a starting point of a reflection process which could achieve setting-up a common curriculum on common standards for policing leadership within the European Union. Moreover, it is totally in line with the Stockholm programme and the forging of a common European police culture.
From this perspective, CEPOL will have a central organising role as the reference when it comes to the training of senior police officers.