Europol

Europol

Overview
Europol is the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

's criminal intelligence
Criminal intelligence
Criminal Intelligence is information compiled, analyzed, and/or disseminated in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor criminal activity....

 agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999.

The establishment of Europol was agreed to in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

, officially known as the Treaty on European Union (TEU) that came into effect in November 1993. The agency started limited operations on 3 January 1994, as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). In 1998 the Europol Convention was ratified by all the member states and came into force in October.
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Encyclopedia
Europol is the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

's criminal intelligence
Criminal intelligence
Criminal Intelligence is information compiled, analyzed, and/or disseminated in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor criminal activity....

 agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999.

The establishment of Europol was agreed to in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

, officially known as the Treaty on European Union (TEU) that came into effect in November 1993. The agency started limited operations on 3 January 1994, as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). In 1998 the Europol Convention was ratified by all the member states and came into force in October. Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.

Europol allocates its resources (625 staff, of these, approximately 120 Europol liaison officers (ELOs)) from its headquarters in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

. The size of Europol belies the fact that they are in constant liaison with hundreds of different law enforcement organisations, each with their own individual or group seconded to assist Europol's activities.

As of 2007, Europol covers all 27 member states of the European Union. In order to fight international organised crime effectively, Europol cooperates with a number of third countries and organisations as follows (in alphabetical order): Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, CEPOL (European Police College
European Police College
CEPOL - European Police College was established as an agency of the European Union in 2005 . CEPOL brings together senior police officers across Europe with the aim to encourage cross-border cooperation in the fight against crime, maintenance of public security and law and order...

), Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

, Eurojust
Eurojust
Eurojust is an agency of the European Union dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters....

, European Central Bank
European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is the institution of the European Union that administers the monetary policy of the 17 EU Eurozone member states. It is thus one of the world's most important central banks. The bank was established by the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1998, and is headquartered in Frankfurt,...

, European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction is an agency of the European Union. Established in 1993, the EMCDDA is located in Lisbon, Portugal.-Mission and role:...

, Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Frontex
Frontex
Frontex is the European Union agency for external border security...

, Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, Interpol
Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

, Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

, OLAF
OLAF
The European Anti-fraud Office is charged by the European Union with protecting the financial interests of the European Union: Its tasks are to fight fraud affecting the EU budget, as well as corruption and any other irregular activity, including misconduct, within the European Institutions, in an...

 (European Anti-Fraud Office), Russian Federation
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, SitCen
SitCen
The Joint Situation Centre is an intelligence body of the European Union . It is part of the European External Action Service and is under the authority of the EU's High Representative.-Role:...

 (EU Joint Situation Centre), Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is a United Nations agency that was established in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention by combining the United Nations International Drug Control Program and the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in the United Nations...

, USA
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, World Customs Organisation
World Customs Organization
The World Customs Organization is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. With its worldwide membership, the WCO is recognized as the voice of the global customs community...

. The Europol External Strategy defines the framework within which Europol is to develop its activities with regard to third partners.

Europol was reformed as a full EU agency on 1 January 2010. This gave Europol increased powers to collect criminal information and European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 more control over Europol activities and budget.

Functions



Europol's aim is to improve the effectiveness and co-operation between the competent authorities of the member states primarily by sharing and pooling intelligence to prevent and combat serious international organized crime
Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are...

. Its mission is to make a significant contribution to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

's law enforcement efforts targeting organized crime.

Europol has no executive powers. It is a support service for the law enforcement agencies
Law enforcement agency
In North American English, a law enforcement agency is a government agency responsible for the enforcement of the laws.Outside North America, such organizations are called police services. In North America, some of these services are called police while others have other names In North American...

 of the EU member states. This means that Europol officials are not entitled to conduct investigations in the member states or to arrest
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

 suspects. In providing support, Europol with its tools information exchange, intelligence analysis, expertise and training can contribute to the executive measures carried out by the relevant national authorities.

Europol is a multi-disciplinary agency, comprising not only regular police officer
Police officer
A police officer is a warranted employee of a police force...

s but staff members from the member states' various law enforcement agencies: customs
Customs
Customs is an authority or agency in a country responsible for collecting and safeguarding customs duties and for controlling the flow of goods including animals, transports, personal effects and hazardous items in and out of a country...

, immigration services, border
Border guard
The border guard, frontier guard, border patrol, border police, or frontier police of a country is a national security agency that performs border control, i.e., enforces the security of the country's national borders....

 and financial police, etc. Secondly, Europol helps to overcome the language barriers in international police co-operation. Any law enforcement officer from a member state can address a request to their Europol National Unit (ENU) in her/his mother tongue and receive the answer back in this language.

Three different levels of co-operation are possible: The first one is technical co-operation or to provide training. The next step is strategic co-operation aimed at exchanging general trends in organised crime and how to fight it and the exchange of threat assessments. The top level of co-operation includes the exchange of personal data and requires the fulfilment of Europol's standards in the field of data protection and data security
Data security
Data security is the means of ensuring that data is kept safe from corruption and that access to it is suitably controlled. Thus data security helps to ensure privacy. It also helps in protecting personal data. Data security is part of the larger practice of Information security.- Disk Encryption...

.

History


Europol has it origins in TREVI
TREVI
TREVI was an intergovernmental network - or forum - of national officials from ministries of justice and the interior in the European Community created during the European Council Summit in Rome, 1–2 December 1975...

, a forum for internal security cooperation amongst EEC
EEC
EEC is an abbreviation that usually refers to the European Economic Community, the forerunner to the European Union.It may also refer to;* The East Erie Commercial Railroad, a shortline in Pennsylvania...

/EC interior and justice ministers created in 1975 and active until the Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

 came into effect in 1993.

Germany, with its federal organisation of police forces, had long been in favour of a supranational police organisation at EC level. It tabled a surprise proposal to establish a European Police Office to the European Council meeting in Luxembourg in June 1991. By that December, the Intergovernmental Conference was coming to an end and the member states had pledged themselves to establishing Europol through Article K.1(9) of the Maastricht Treaty
Maastricht Treaty
The Maastricht Treaty was signed on 7 February 1992 by the members of the European Community in Maastricht, Netherlands. On 9–10 December 1991, the same city hosted the European Council which drafted the treaty...

. Europol was given the modest role of establishing ‘a Union-wide system for exchanging information’ amongst EU police forces.
Delays in ratifying the Maastricht Treaty led to TREVI
TREVI
TREVI was an intergovernmental network - or forum - of national officials from ministries of justice and the interior in the European Community created during the European Council Summit in Rome, 1–2 December 1975...

 ministers agreeing a "Ministerial Agreement on the Europol Drugs Unit" in June 1993. This intergovernmental agreement, outside of EU law
European Union law
European Union law is a body of treaties and legislation, such as Regulations and Directives, which have direct effect or indirect effect on the laws of European Union member states. The three sources of European Union law are primary law, secondary law and supplementary law...

, led to the establishment of a small team headed by Jürgen Storbeck, a senior German police
German Federal Police
The Bundespolizei is a uniformed federal police force in Germany. It is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of the Interior...

 officer who initially operated from some temporary cabins in a Strasbourg suburb (shared with personnel of the Schengen Information System
Schengen Information System
The Schengen Information System , is a governmental database used by European countries to maintain and distribute information on individuals and pieces of property of interest. The intended uses of this system are for national security, border control and law enforcement purposes...

) while more permanent arrangements were made.

Once the Maastricht Treaty had come into effect, the slow process of negotiating and ratifying a Europol Convention began. In the meantime, the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) had its powers extended twice, in March 1995 and again in December 1996 to included a range of trafficking
Smuggling
Smuggling is the clandestine transportation of goods or persons, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.There are various motivations to smuggle...

 offences in its remit. During this period, information amongst officers could only be exchanged bilaterally, with a central database to be established once the Europol Convention was ratified. The Europol Convention finally came into effect in October 1998 after ratification by all 15 EU national parliaments though some outstanding legal issues (primarily data protection supervision and judicial supervision) ensured it could not formally take up duties until July 1999.

The Europol Convention was superseded by the Council Decision of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol), converting Europol into a formal EU agency as well as increasing some of its powers. The European Parliament was given more control over Europol by the Council Decision as well.

Authorities


The Directorate of Europol is appointed by the Council of the European Union
Council of the European Union
The Council of the European Union is the institution in the legislature of the European Union representing the executives of member states, the other legislative body being the European Parliament. The Council is composed of twenty-seven national ministers...

 (Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs). It currently consists of Director Rob Wainwright (UK) and Deputy Directors Michel Quillé (France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

) and Eugenio Orlandi (Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

).

Europol is politically accountable to the Justice and Home Affairs Council via the Europol Management Board. The Council controls the appointment of Europol's Director and Deputy Directors. It also controls Europol's budget, financed from member state contributions, rather than the EU budget and any legislative instruments it deems necessary for Europol. The Europol Management Board is staffed with Interior Ministry officials with one representative from every participating member state. It meets at least twice per year and exercises political control over more routine staffing and budgetary matters, amongst other things. The Joint Supervisory Body oversees data protection in Europol and has two representatives from each participating state's data protection supervisory body.

Financial supervision
Financial regulation
Financial regulation is a form of regulation or supervision, which subjects financial institutions to certain requirements, restrictions and guidelines, aiming to maintain the integrity of the financial system...

 over Europol is aided by a committee of auditors drawn from the membership of the European Court of Auditors
European Court of Auditors
The Court of Auditors is the fifth institution of the European Union . It was established in 1975 in Luxembourg to audit the accounts of EU institutions...

 and known as the Joint Audit Committee. The Joint Audit Committee is not technically part of the European Court of Auditors as the Europol budget is not part of the overall EU budget. This unusual arrangement preserves the intergovernmental character of Europol.

The European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

 has minimal jurisdiction over Europol with its remit extending only to limited interpretation of the Europol Convention.

The European Ombudsman
European Ombudsman
The European Ombudsman is an ombudsman for the European Union, based in the Salvador de Madariaga Building in Strasbourg.-History:...

, while not given a formal role in the Europol Convention, seems to have gained de facto recognition as an arbitrator in Europol matters relating to requests for access to documents and Europol staff disputes.

See also

  • Eurodac
    Eurodac
    EURODAC, which stands for European Dactyloscopy, is the European fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers and irregular border-crossers. Asylum applicants and irregular border-crossers over the age of 14 have their fingerprints taken as a matter of European Community law...

  • TREVI
    TREVI
    TREVI was an intergovernmental network - or forum - of national officials from ministries of justice and the interior in the European Community created during the European Council Summit in Rome, 1–2 December 1975...

  • Interpol
    Interpol
    Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

  • Visa Information System
    Visa Information System
    The European Union Visa Information System is a database containing information, including biometrics, on visa applications by Third Country Nationals requiring a visa to enter the Schengen group....

  • Area of freedom, security and justice
    Area of freedom, security and justice
    The area of freedom, security and justice is a collection of European Union policies designed to ensure security, rights and free movement within the EU. As internal borders have been removed within the EU, cross border police cooperation had to increase to counter cross border crime, and thus...


External links