This was an opportunity for Europe to pull its weight in Afghanistan in a discipline and skills area where it had great expertise. In this, despite the dedication and risks taken by those on the ground, the EU’s Member States have not yet succeeded. Not only was the resource allocation of 400 staff in practice woefully inadequate for this important task, the fact that even those numbers have never been met has undermined the reputation of the mission.It is the same familiar story of the EU's inability or reluctance to meet its rhetorical commitments on foreign policy with boots on the ground or adequate resources.
The mission, which is due to cost €54.6 million in 2010-11, is at serious risk of failing to meet its aims with 70% of Afghan police remaining illiterate. There also appears to be little or no cooperation with Nato and a lack of a strategic timetable: despite deadlines for military withdrawal set at 2014-15, the EU's policing mission is expected take another 5 to 10 years to achieve its objectives. It is far from clear that such a mission could continue after the bulk of troops have returned home.
The Lords argue that, "The planned size of the EU mission of 400 was always too small to make a major difference to civilian outcomes in Afghanistan." But even this modest commitment of man-power "has never been met, with numbers in the high 200s being typical." The result, argue the Lords, is that the mission "illustrates EU weakness rather than strength."
As we have noted before, building institutions and making empty commitments an EU foreign policy does not make.