As part of its ongoing program with North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s largest State, the Forum co-organized a closed-door roundtable on “Federalism and Public Security”. The Workshop was opened by Secretary of State from North Rhine-Westphalia, Dr. Mark Speich, and Prof. Georg Milbradt, Chairman of the Forum of Federations. In his opening remarks, Prof. Milbradt referred to the comparative project on “Public Security in Federal Polities” which the Forum has run in recent years (http://www.forumfed.org/programs/policy-and-research/public-security/)
The themes of the workshop was introduced by André Duvillard, delegate to the Swiss Security Network (SSN). The SSN comprises all federal, cantonal and communal security policy instruments. Its bodies (operational and political platform) serve for consultation on and coordination of decisions, means and policies of the Confederation and the Cantons regarding common security challenges. André Duvillard, who has been moderating the dialogue in the Swiss Security Network between Confederation and cantons since July 2012, explained the federal division of competencies of police and security authorities in Switzerland and explained the special coordinating function of the SSN, has developed into a key player in the security architecture of Switzerland. The discussion following his presentation demonstrated that Germany and Switzerland are facing very similar challenges, but due to structurally and historically different conditions also developed different policy approaches and solutions.
Dieter Schürmann, general-commissioner of North Rhine-Westphalia’s law enforcement agency, elaborated on the divergent perception of the tasks of public security in Germany. He advocated for strong police forces at local level, but – in the face of increasing challenges posed by digital and cross-border crime – called for the need to focus on police core issues, and to develop more effective forms of cooperation between agencies and levels of government. After all, so Mr. Schürmann, increased European integration will be a trigger for more and better cooperation between Germany’s States and the federal government.
Following up on Mr. Duvillard’s presentation about Switzerland, Sebastian Fiedler, Chairman of the Federal Association of Police Officers in Germany, in his presentation argued for increased horizontal cooperation between Germany’s States (through formal treaties or agreements) and, vertically, between the federal government and the States. The discussion showed that digitization, in particular, brings considerable pressure for reform on the federal security architecture.
The roundtable took place the State Representation of North Rhine-Westphalia in Berlin on November 14 and was attended by around 30 public security and federalism experts.