Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands
|Formed||1 October 1998|
The Hague, Netherlands
|Employees||1,065 (December 2016)|
|Annual budget||€116.4 million (FY 2017)|
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, 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, it comprised 1,065 staff in 2016.
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)—thus sowing the seeds of police co-operation across Europe. At the Summit, the European Council agreed to establish "a Central European Criminal Investigations Office (Europol) by 31 December 1993 the latest."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. On 7 February 1992, Europol was enshrined with more substance in Article K.1, section 9, as the Maastricht Treaty was signed:
[...] 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).
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 was hosted. 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—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 police and intelligence agencies and after the War manned by the Dutch State Intelligence Service until Europol relocated there later in 1994.
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.The European Police Office (Europol) commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.
Europol was fully integrated into the European Union with Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009. It replaced the Europol Convention and reformed Europol as an EU agency (i.e. subject to the general rules and procedures applicable to all EU 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.
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.
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.Commissioner Malmström stated that the need for a cybercrime centre in Europe was "to protect the open and free internet". 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.
When the UK exercised its opt-out from the area of freedom, security and justice in 2014, its request to continue participating in Europol was approved.
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. The Regulation took effect on 1 May 2017. Additionally, the full name was amended to European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol).
Denmark was not permitted to participate in the 2016 recast Europol Regulation due to its opt-out from the Area of freedom, security and justice. In a December 2015 referendum it rejected converting its opt-out to a case-by-case opt-in, which would have allowed it to participate in the new regulation and remain a member of Europol. However, Denmark and the European Union agreed on a co-operation 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.
The UK also did not originally participate in the recast 2016 Europol Regulation, but subsequently notified the EU of its desire to participate in December 2016. Its participation was confirmed by a Commission Decision in March 2017.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. However, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said in November 2017 that the UK "will no longer be a member of the European Defence Agency or Europol" after Brexit takes effect.
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 the 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 crowdsourcing by the investigators. to support Europol's call.Bellingcat, the investigative search network, reported that several objects had been positively identified following its attempt
Europol is mandated by the European Union (EU) to assist EU Member States in the fight against international crime, such as illicit drugs, trafficking in human beings, intellectual property crime, cybercrime, euro counterfeiting and terrorism, by serving as a centre for law enforcement co-operation, expertise and criminal intelligence.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.
Europol reported it would focus on countering cybercrime, organized crime, and terrorism as well as on building its information technology capacities during the 2016–2020 strategy cycle, .Europol likewise stated that the previous strategy cycle of 2010–2014 laid the foundation for the Agency as the European criminal information hub. 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.
Additionally, the Agency's tasked activities in detail include analysis and exchange information, such as criminal intelligence; co-ordination 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 missions. The Agency is also directed to assist the European Council and the European Commission in developing strategic and operational priorities.
In the financial year 2017, the Agency's budget was approximately 116.4 million euros.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. In addition to the Management Board and Liaison Bureaux, Europol is organised into three different departments under the Executive Director:
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 2018, the Agency is headed by Executive Director Catherine De Bolle. 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.
The Europol Management Board comprises representatives from all of the Member States and from the European Commission, each having one vote. Decisions of the Board require a supermajority 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.
External financial oversight of the Agency is conducted by the European Court of Auditors (ECA); for example, ECA evaluated Europol in 2017 on anti-radicalization programmes. (EDPS) has been responsible for supervising the Agency's data protection measures.Internal control 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 to create a more transparent, effective, accountable and ethical administration. As of 1 May 2017, the European Data Protection Supervisor
The Director of Europol is able to enter into agreements for Europol with other countries and international organizations. As of September 2017, Europol co-operates on an operational basis with Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, Colombia, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Ukraine and United States of America and Interpol.Similarly, the Agency has strategic agreements with Brazil, China, Russia, Turkey, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and World Customs Organization (WCO).
Eurojust is an agency of the European Union (EU) dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters among agencies of the member states. It is seated in The Hague, Netherlands. Established in 2002, it was created to improve handling of serious cross-border and organised crime by stimulating investigative and prosecutorial co-ordination.
The European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) is an independent body of the European Union (EU) to be established under the Treaty of Lisbon between 22 of the 28 members of the EU following the method of enhanced cooperation. It will be based in Kirchberg, Luxembourg City alongside the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) is a committee of the European Parliament that is responsible for protecting civil liberties and human rights, including those of minorities, as listed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
The Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany is the federal investigative police agency of Germany, directly subordinated to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. It is headquartered in Wiesbaden, Hesse, and maintains major branch offices in Berlin and Meckenheim near Bonn. It has been headed by Holger Münch since December 2014.
Transnational organized crime (TOC) is organized crime coordinated across national borders, involving groups or markets of individuals working in more than one country to plan and execute illegal business ventures. In order to achieve their goals, these criminal groups use systematic violence and corruption. Common transnational organized crimes include conveying drugs, conveying arms, trafficking for sex, toxic waste disposal, materials theft and poaching.
The Prüm Convention is a treaty which was signed on 27 May 2005 by Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain in the town of Prüm in Germany, and which is open to all members of the European Union, 14 of which are currently parties.
The International Criminal Police Organization, more commonly known as INTERPOL, is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. Headquartered in Lyon, France, it was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC); the name INTERPOL served as the agency's telegraphic address in 1946, and was chosen as its common name in 1956.
In the European Union (EU), enhanced cooperation is a procedure where a minimum of nine EU member states are allowed to establish advanced integration or cooperation in an area within EU structures but without the other members being involved. As of October 2017 this procedure is being used in the fields of divorce law, patents, property regimes of international couples, and European Public Prosecutor and is approved for the field of a financial transaction tax.
Sir Robert Mark Wainwright KCMG is a British civil servant. He was the director of Europol from 16 April 2009 until 1 May 2018.
The area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) is a collection of home affairs and justice policies designed to ensure security, rights and free movement within the European Union (EU). Areas covered include the harmonisation of private international law, extradition arrangements between member states, policies on internal and external border controls, common travel visa, immigration and asylum policies and police and judicial cooperation.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) is a national law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom. It is the UK's lead agency against organised crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; cyber crime; and economic crime that goes across regional and international borders, but can be tasked to investigate any crime. The NCA has a strategic role in which it looks at the bigger picture across the UK, analysing how criminals are operating and how they can be disrupted. To do this it works closely with regional organised crime units (ROCUs), the Serious Fraud Office, as well as individual police forces.
The Cross Channel Intelligence Community (CCIC), is a regional alliance between law enforcement agencies operating in the English Channel Coast/North Sea geographic area.
The Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs is a Directorate-General of the European Commission. The role of the body is to ensure the EU's security, to build a common EU migration and asylum policy, and to promote dialogue and cooperation with non-EU countries. Thereby, it contributes to the Area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ).
The European Cybercrime Centre is the body of the Police Office (Europol) of the European Union (EU), headquartered in The Hague, that coordinates cross-border law enforcement activities against computer crime and acts as a centre of technical expertise on the matter.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) – informally known as the Fraud Squad – is a specialised division of Ireland's national police force, the Garda Síochána, that investigates economic crimes. The Bureau operates as part of the Garda Special Crime Operations branch, and works alongside other sections of the force, as well as the external Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), an agency tasked with investigating white-collar crime. The Economic Crime Bureau is responsible for the investigation of serious financial fraud and corruption. It was established in April 1996 and is based at Harcourt Square, Dublin 2. The GNECB is headed by an officer of Detective Chief Superintendent rank, who reports to the Assistant Commissioner of Special Crime Operations.
There is a long history of terrorism in Europe. This has often been linked to nationalist and separatist movements, while other acts have been related to politics, religious extremism, or organized crime. Terrorism in the European sections of the intercontinental countries of Turkey and Russia is not included in this list.
The Crime and Security Branch (CSB) – previously known as C3 – is responsible for the administration of national security, counter terrorism and serious crime investigations within the Garda Síochána, the national police force of Ireland. The section oversees intelligence relating to subversive, paramilitary and terrorism matters, conducts counter-intelligence, liaises with foreign law enforcement agencies, handles confidential informants, administers VIP and witness protection, monitors potential corrupt Garda officers and provides information on threats to the state to the Garda Commissioner and Government of Ireland.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) is one of the configurations of the Council of the European Union and is composed of the justice and home affairs ministers of the 28 European Union member states.
The Counter Terrorism Group is an informal grouping of intelligence agencies from 30 European countries. CTG was founded in 2001 and includes agencies from all 28 European Union members, Norway and Switzerland. MI5 of the UK is expected to continue to remain a part of the CTG after Brexit.
Islamic terrorism in Europe has been carried out by the Islamic State (ISIL) or Al-Qaeda as well as Islamist lone wolves since the late 20th century.
Office in classical school building from 1910. This office building was used by Europol until 2011.
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.
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