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Europol is the European Union criminal intelligence agency.

Taken from the Europol website FAQ.

What is Europol's Mission?

Europol is the European Union criminal intelligence agency. Its aim is to improve the effectiveness and co operation between the competent authorities of the Member States in preventing and combating serious international organised crime. The mission of Europol is to make a significant contribution to the European Unionís law enforcement action against organised crime.

How does Europol assist Member States Investigations?

Europol supports Member States by:

  • Facilitating the exchange of information, in accordance with national law, between Europol Liaison Officers (ELOs). Those ELOs are seconded to Europol by the Member States as representatives of their national law enforcement agencies, thus not under command of Europol and its Director.
  • Providing operational analysis in support of Member Statesí operations.
  • Generating strategic reports (e.g. threat assessments) and crime analysis on the basis of information and intelligence supplied by Member States, generated by Europol or gathered from other sources.
  • Providing expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out within the EU, under the supervision and the legal responsibility of the Member States concerned.

Is Europol a European FBI?

No. Europol has no executive powers. 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 investigate those Member States or to arrest suspects. However, in providing support, Europol with its tools - fast information exchange, sophisticated intelligence analysis, expertise and training - can contribute to the executive measures carried out by the relevant national authorities.

What is Europol's Mandate?

Europol's mandate includes all forms of serious crime as mentioned in the annex of the Europol Convention. However, due to decisions by the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Europol's main priorities are drug trafficking, illegal immigration/trafficking in human beings, counterfeiting of the euro and counter terrorism.

Does Europol Only Act on Request?

Yes. However, article 30 of the Amsterdam Treaty provides the legal basis for a regulation that will allow Europol, after ratification of the EU national parliaments, to request (N.B. not to order) the competent authorities to start an investigation. For example, after analysis of a criminal network acting in three or four Member States, a link to another Member State is detected.

What are the Pre-Conditions for Europol to become Active?

First of all, two or more Member States must be involved. Secondly, there must be factual indications that an organised criminal network is involved. Thirdly the case must be within Europolís mandate.

What's the Added Value of Europol?

There are various advantages. To mention just two of them, Europol is a multi-disciplinary agency, comprising not only regular police officers but staff members from the various law enforcement agencies of the Member States such as customs, immigration services, border and financial police. 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 language and receive the answer back in this language.

Is Europol Democratically Controlled?

Yes. According to the Maastricht Treaty, the Europol convention and other legislation, the EU Member States together with Europol have set up a series of control instruments, including management guidance, financial audit and also strong data protection controls. Europol has welcomed the discussion about further improvement of the control rights of both the national and EU parliaments.

Europol is still a Relatively Young Organisation. Are there already Clear Results?

Yes. Europol has contributed considerably to operational successes. For example, in the fields of drugs trafficking, illegal immigration or stolen vehicles. Detailed information can be found in the press releases. The number of information requests increases from year to year, which is a clear indicator that more and more law enforcement officers make use of Europol in the fight against organised crime.

How do you Co-operate with Non-EU Countries and International Organisations?

There are 3 different levels of co-operation 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. This co-operation may lead to the installation of a liaison officer from those countries and institutions at Europol or vice versa. All agreements need the approval of the Justice and Home Affairs Council before they can be signed. </P

What is the Difference between Europol and Interpol?

There are various possibilities for international law enforcement co-operation. Interpol and Europol are just two of them. Interpol is an excellent network of police agencies of countries worldwide, whereas Europol supports the EU Member States, including all various law enforcement organisations (see added value). Both Interpol and Europol play their own designed role in the fight against organised crime and there is no concurrence between both organisations. In fact a co-operation agreement was recently signed between the two organisations to help strengthen international law enforcement co-operation. An exchange of Liaison officers is anticipated.


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