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Coordinates: 52°05′34″N 4°16′53″E / 52.092846°N 4.281521°E / 52.092846; 4.281521

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), formerly known as the European Police Office (Europol) and the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU), is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organised crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU Member States. The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without prior approval from competent authorities in the Member States. Seated in The Hague, South Holland, it has 1065 staff and a budget of 116.4 million euros.

EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)
EUROPOL logo.svg
Europol building, The Hague, the Netherlands - 931.jpg
Europol HQ in The Hague
Agency overview
Formed October 1, 1998; 19 years ago (1998-10-01)
Preceding
  • European Police Office, Europol Drugs Unit
Jurisdiction European Union
Headquarters Eisenhowerlaan 73
The Hague, Netherlands
Employees 1065 (December 2016)[1]
Annual budget € 116.4 million (FY 2017)[2]
Agency executive
Parent department Council of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs
Key document
Website europol.europa.eu
Twitter: @Europol
Facebook: @europol
Instagram: @europol.eu
Map
Europol is located in Netherlands
The Hague
The Hague
Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Europol (Netherlands)

Contents

Budget and strategic prioritiesEdit

In the financial year 2017, the Agency's budget was approximately 116.4 million euros.[3]

During the 2016 - 2020 strategy cycle, Europol reported it would focus on cybercrime, organized crime, and terrorism including building its information technology capacities.[2] Europol likewise stated that the previous strategy cycle of 2010 - 2014 laid the foundation for the Agency as the European criminal information hub.[4] The EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) of 2017 identified eight priority crime areas: cybercrime; drug production, trafficking and distribution; migrant smuggling; organised property crime; trafficking in human beings; criminal finances and money laundering; document fraud; and online trade in illicit goods and services.[5]

HistoryEdit

1990s - Origins and establishmentEdit

Europol has its origins in TREVI, a forum for security cooperation created amongst European Community interior and justice ministers in 1976. At first, TREVI focused on international terrorism, but soon started to cover other areas of cross-border crime within the Community. At the European Summit in Luxembourg on 28-29 June 1991, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl called for the creation of a European police agency similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)—sowing the seeds of police cooperation across Europe. At the Summit, the European Council agreed to establish "a Central European Criminal Investigations Office (Europol) by 31 December 1993 the latest."[6][7][8][9][10]

The idea of the Luxembourg Summit was further elaborated at the European Council in Maastricht on 9-10 December 1991, a meeting to draft the Maastricht Treaty. The European Council agreed to create "a European police office (Europol) the initial function of which would be to organize exchange of information on narcotic drugs". The Council likewise instructed TREVI ministers to take measures in setting up the office.[11] On 7 February 1992, Europol was enshrined with more substance in Article K.1, section 9, as the Maastricht Treaty was signed:[8][9]

[...] Member States shall regard the following areas as matters of common interest: [...] police cooperation for the purposes of preventing and combatting terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime, including if necessary certain aspects of customs cooperation, in connection with the organization of a Union-wide system for exchanging information within a European Police Office (Europol).[12]

 
Europol HQ from 1994 to 2011 in The Hague, pictured in 2010

Europol was first de facto organised provisionally in 1993 as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) in Strasbourg at the same site as the Schengen Information System. The small initial group started operations there in January 1994 under the leadership of Jürgen Storbeck and with a mandate to assist national police forces in criminal investigations. The competition for the permanent site of Europol during the period was between The Hague, Rome and Strasbourg—although the European Council decided on 29 October 1993 that Europol should be established in The Hague. A former Catholic boys school built in 1910 at Raamweg 47 was chosen as the precise location. The house was used in World War II by the police and intelligence agencies and after the War manned by the Dutch State Intelligence Service until Europol relocated there later in 1994.[7][9][13][10]

The Europol Convention was signed on 26 July 1995 in Brussels and came into force on 1 October 1998 after being ratified by all the Member States.[14][15] The European Police Office (Europol) commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.[8][9][16]

2010s - Reformation as a European Union agencyEdit

Europol was integrated into European Union competence with Article 88 of the Lisbon Treaty effective 1 December 2009. Subsequently, Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 replaced the Europol Convention and reformed Europol as a full EU agency (i.e. an entity of the EU subject to the general rules and procedures applicable to similar agencies) on 1 January 2010 due to different aspirations, such as enhanced support to Member States on countering serious and organised crime, budgetary control by the European Parliament, and administrative simplification.[17][18]

The Agency's new 32 000 m2 headquarters building, designed by Frank Wintermans, was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on 1 July 2011 in the international zone of The Hague next to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) at Eisenhowerlaan 73.[19][20]

On 11 January 2013, Director Rob Wainwright and European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström launched the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3 or EC³), a unit of Europol tasked with assisting Member States to dismantle and disrupt cybercrime committed by organised groups to generate large criminal profits (e.g. online fraud), causing serious harm to victims (e.g. online child sexual exploitation) or affecting critical infrastructure and systems in the EU. The purpose of the Centre is to coordinate cross-border law enforcement activities against cybercrime and act as a centre of technological expertise, such as tool development and training.[21][22] At the time, the Centre was not expected to be fully functional until 2015.[23] Commissioner Malmström stated that the need for a cybercrime centre in Europe was "to protect the open and free internet".[24][25]

On 25 January 2016, the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) was launched as a new strategic platform within Europol to share information among EU states in tracking movements of Europeans into and from Syria as well as to monitor terrorists' finances and militants' Internet usage.[26][27]

The European Parliament approved Europol's new legal framework, Regulation (EU) 2016/794, on 11 May 2016 after three years of negotiations and thus repealed the former Decisions of 2009. The new framework granted additional powers on counter-terrorism to Europol, but also includes adding training and exchange programmes for staff, creating a solid data protection system, and strengthening the Parliament’s control over the Agency.[28] The Regulation took effect on 1 May 2017.[29] Additionally, the full name was amended to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol).[30]

Denmark rejected new laws part of Regulation (EU) 2016/794 needed to keep the country a member of Europol in a December 2015 referendum. However, Denmark and the European Union agreed on a cooperation deal in December 2016. The agreement was accepted by both the European Parliament and the Danish Parliament on 27 April 2017 and subsequently signed on 29 April 2017—two days before Denmark would have been cut off from the Agency.[31][32][33]

Europol started the Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object campaign and website on 31 May 2017. The site's objective is to display objects in child sexual abuse images to try to find the perpetrators and victims—in hope that distinct details, such as a logo on a bag or a shampoo bottle, can be identified by the public who can then forward the information by an anonymous tip-off or social media. The approach was called crowd-knowledge sourcing by the investigators.[34][35] Bellingcat, the investigative search network, reported that several objects had been positively identified following its attempt to support Europol’s call.[36]

In September 2017, it was reported that the United Kingdom was planning to hold onto Europol access, such as intelligence sharing and co-operation in fighting crime and terrorism, after Brexit though a new treaty.[37][38]

Tasks and activitiesEdit

In effect, Europol's task is to assist the EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime, such as illicit drugs, trafficking in human beings, intellectual property crime, cybercrime, euro counterfeiting, and terrorism by serving as a:

  • centre of cooperation and support for law enforcement operations;
  • nexus for intelligence on criminal activities; and
  • centre of expertise for law enforcement work.[30][16][39][40][41]
 
Cover of the Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2017

In addition, the Agency's tasks in detail include analysis and exchange information, such as criminal intelligence; coordination of investigative and operational action as well as joint investigation teams; preparation of threat assessments, strategic and operational analyses and general situation reports; and developing specialist knowledge of crime prevention and forensic methods. Europol is to coordinate and support other EU bodies established within the area of freedom, security and justice, such as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), and EU crisis management structures and missions. The Agency also assists the European Council and the European Commission in developing strategic and operational priorities.[30][16][41]

Europol or its officials do not have executive powers—and therefore they do not have powers of arrest and cannot carry out investigations without the approval of national authorities.[40][42][10]

Organisation and staffEdit

 
Rob Wainright, Executive Director of Europol, speaking during the launch of the European Counter Terrorism Centre on 25 January 2016

In addition to the Management Board and Liaison Bureaux, Europol is organised into three different departments under the Executive Director:

  • Operations (O) Department
    • O1 Front Office
    • O2 European Serious and Organised Crime Centre (ESOCC)
    • O3 European Cybercrime Centre (EC³)
    • O4 European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC)
    • O5 Horizontal Operational Services (HOS)
  • Governance (G) Department
    • G1 Corporate Affairs Bureau (CAB)
    • G2 Corporate Services
    • G3 Procurement
    • G5 Security
  • Capabilities (C) Department
    • C1 ICT
    • C5 Administration[39]

As of December 2016, Europol has 1065 staff, of which 32.3 % are female and 67.7 % male, including employment contracts with Europol, liaison officers from Member States and third states and organisations, Seconded National Experts, trainees and contractors. 201 of the staff are liaison officers and around 100 analysts.[1][39][16]

Governance, accountability and relationsEdit

The Europol Directorate, day-to-day leadership of the Agency, is appointed by the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) for four-year terms. As of September 2017, the Agency was headed by Executive Director Rob Wainwright and Deputy Directors Wil van Gemert, Oldrich Martinu and Luis de Eusebio Ramos. The Agency is accountable to and controlled by the Justice and Home Affairs Council. Together with the European Parliament, the Council approves Europol’s budget and regulations related to its work. The Council forwards an annual special report to the European Parliament on the work of the Agency—and the Parliament also discharges Europol from its responsibility for managing a set budget. Before 2009, the Agency was an international body and thus the European Parliament lacked effective scrutiny powers over it. From 2009 to 2017, the European Parliament had been the sole organ in parliamentary control of Europol. The Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) was created at the EU Speakers Conference in Bratislava on 23-25 April 2017 to allow both the European Parliament and national EU parliaments to exert control over Europol.[43][44][45][39]

The Europol Management Board comprises representatives from all of the Member State and from the European Commission, each having one vote. Decisions of the Board require a two-thirds majority and it meets at least twice per year on Europol's current and future activities as well as on adopting the budget, programming material and general annual reports. The Board forwards its decisions to the Justice and Home Affairs Council for the Council's perusal. The Management Board functions include data protection, internal audit and accountancy.[45][39][41]

External financial oversight of the Agency is conducted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA); for example, ECA visited Europol during 2017 while evaluating anti-radicalization programmes.[46] Internal oversight is carried out by the Internal Audit Service of the European Commission as well as by the Europol Management Board-appointed Internal Audit Function. The European Ombudsman is tasked with investigating complaints against EU institutions and bodies, including Europol, as well as assisting them to create a more transparent, effective, accountable and ethical administration.[45] As of 1 May 2017, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has been responsible for supervising the Agency's data protection measures.[47]

The Director is able to enter into agreements for Europol with other countries and international organizations. As of September 2017, Europol cooperates on an operational basis with Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, Colombia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and United States of America and Interpol.[33][48][49][50] Similarly, the Agency has strategic agreements with Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and World Customs Organization (WCO).[51][50][52]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Statistics & Data". europol.europa.eu. Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b Statement of revenue and expenditure of the European Police Office for the financial year 2017 (2017/C 84/35) (PDF). Europol. 2017. 
  3. ^ Statement of revenue and expenditure of the European Police Office for the financial year 2017 (2017/C 84/35) (PDF). Europol. 2017. 
  4. ^ Europol Strategy 2016 - 2020. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Europol. 2016. ISBN 978-92-95200-71-5. doi:10.2813/983718. 
  5. ^ European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) 2017 (PDF). Europol. 2017. pp. 10–11. 
  6. ^ "Luxembourg European Summit - Conclusions of the Presidency (SN 151/3/91)". www.europarl.europa.eu. European Parliament. June 1991. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  7. ^ a b Bunyan, Tony (1993). "Trevi, Europol and the European state". In Bunyan, Tony. Statewatching the New Europe: Handbook on the European State. Statewatch. ISBN 978-1874481027. 
  8. ^ a b c 1998-2016 Looking Back, Moving Forward: One Hundred Meetings of the Europol Management Board (PDF). Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Europol. 2016. ISBN 978-92-95200-73-9. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ten Years of Europol, 1999-2009 (PDF). The Hague: Europol. 2009. 
  10. ^ a b c "Europe’s intelligence ‘black hole’". POLITICO. 2015-12-03. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  11. ^ "Maastricht European Summit - Conclusions of the Presidency (SN 271/1/91)". www.europarl.europa.eu. European Parliament. December 1991. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  12. ^ "Treaty on European Union, signed at Maastricht on 7 February 1992". Official Journal of the European Communities. 35. 29 July 1992. ISSN 0378-6986 – via EUR-Lex. 
  13. ^ Rijksvastgoedbedrijf. "Den Haag, Raamweg 47". www.rijksvastgoedbedrijf.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-09-21. Office in classical school building from 1910. This office building was used by Europol until 2011. 
  14. ^ "Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of Treaty on European Union, on the establishment of a European Police Office (Europol Convention)". EUR-Lex. Official Journal of the European Communities. 1995-07-26. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  15. ^ "Agreement Details - Europol Convention". www.consilium.europa.eu. Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  16. ^ a b c d Shaw, Danny (2017-02-15). "Inside Europol". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  17. ^ "Council Decision of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol) (2009/371/JHA)". Official Journal of the European Union. L (121). 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2017-09-20 – via EUR-Lex. 
  18. ^ Wolff, Sarah (2009). From The Hague to Stockholm: The Future of EU's Internal Security Achitecture and Police Cooperation (PDF). The Hague: Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael. 
  19. ^ "HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands opens new Europol headquarters in The Hague". Europol. 2011-07-01. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  20. ^ "Europol Special" (PDF). SMAAK. Central Government Real Estate Agency, the Netherlands. July 2011. 
  21. ^ "European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) opens on 11 January". europa.eu. European Commission. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  22. ^ "European Cybercrime Centre - EC3". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  23. ^ "EU cybercrime centre launched by Commissioner Malmström". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  24. ^ Ashford, Warwick (11 January 2013). "European Cybercrime Centre opens in The Hague". ComputerWeekly.com. Computer Weekly. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  25. ^ "Speech: EC³, a European response to cybercrime". europa.eu. 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  26. ^ Macdonald, Alastair (2015-11-20). "EU's Europol in action against Paris attackers - chief". Reuters. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  27. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle (2016-01-25). "Europol launches pan-European counterterrorism center". DW.COM. Retrieved 2017-09-20. 
  28. ^ "Parliament approves new Europol powers to fight terrorism". POLITICO. 2016-05-11. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  29. ^ "Europol’s new legal framework a step forward for European policing and security". www.independent.com.mt. The Malta Independent. 2017-05-01. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  30. ^ a b c "Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliamanet and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)". EUR-Lex. 24 May 2016. 
  31. ^ "EU, Denmark find deal on Europol after Danes voted to quit". Reuters. 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  32. ^ "Danish, EU parliaments agree on Europol deal". The Local Denmark. 2017-04-28. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  33. ^ a b "Commission welcomes Europol's new mandate and cooperation agreement with Denmark". europa.eu. European Commission. 2017-04-29. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  34. ^ "Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  35. ^ "Police publish child abuse clues online". BBC News. 2017-06-01. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  36. ^ "Update on Crowdsourcing Europol’s “Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object” Campaign". bellingcat. 2017-06-15. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  37. ^ Travis, Alan (2017-09-18). "UK plans treaty to remain inside Europol after Brexit". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  38. ^ "Reality Check: Can the UK be part of Europol after Brexit?". BBC News. 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  39. ^ a b c d e "About Europol". europol.europa.eu. Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-18. 
  40. ^ a b Bureš, Oldřich (2016-06-01). "Intelligence sharing and the fight against terrorism in the EU: lessons learned from Europol". European View. 15 (1): 57–66. ISSN 1781-6858. doi:10.1007/s12290-016-0393-7 – via Springer Link. 
  41. ^ a b c Kaunert; Léonard; Occhipinti, eds. (2015). Justice and Home Affairs Agencies in the European Union. Oxon/NY: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-77955-6. 
  42. ^ "Frequently asked questions". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-22. The European Police Office is a support service for the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States. This means that Europol officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without the approval of national authorities. 
  43. ^ Kreilinger, Valentin (2017). A Watchdog for Europe's Policemen: The Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group for Europol. Policy Paper / Jacques Delors Institute. Berlin. 
  44. ^ "Meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on EUROPOL". www.parleu2017.ee. 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  45. ^ a b c "Accountability". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-19. 
  46. ^ "EU Court of Auditors to assess anti-radicalization programs". POLITICO. 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  47. ^ "New Regulation boosts the roles of EDPS and Europol". European Data Protection Supervisor. 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  48. ^ "Operational Agreements". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 
  49. ^ "Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Australia and the European Police Office (The Hague, 20 February 2007) - ATS 34 of 2007”. Australasian Legal Information Institute, Australian Treaties Library. Retrieved on 18 April 2017.
  50. ^ a b "Agreements with International Organisations". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  51. ^ "Strategic Agreements". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-21. 
  52. ^ "Europol and Brazil agree co-operation on cyber crime". ComputerWeekly.com. 2017-04-11. Retrieved 2017-09-22. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit