Europol HQ in The Hague
|Formed||October 1, 1998|
|Headquarters||Eisenhowerlaan 73 2517 KK, The Hague, Netherlands|
|Employees||1065 (December 2016)|
|Annual budget||€ 116.4 million (FY 2017)|
|Parent department||Council of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs|
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), formerly known as the European Police Office, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) that handles criminal intelligence and combating serious international organised crime and terrorism by means of cooperation between the relevant authorities of the Member States, including those tasked with customs, immigration service, border guard and financial investigation duties. Headquartered in The Hague, South Holland, the agency has 1065 staff and a budget of 116.4 million euros.
The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to conduct investigations in the Member States or to arrest suspects. Europol, in providing support through information exchange, intelligence analysis, expertise, and training, can contribute to the executive measures carried out by the relevant national authorities.
Objective, budget and strategic priorities
According to Article 3 of Regulation (EU) 2016/794, Europol's objective is to
support and strengthen action by the competent authorities of the Member States and their mutual cooperation in preventing and combating serious crime affecting two or more Member States, terrorism and forms of crime which affect a common interest [...].
During the 2016 - 2020 strategy cycle, Europol will focus on consolidating all its capabilities and expertise to deliver the most effective support to EU Member State investigations to counter significant pan-European threats—such as cybercrime, serious and organised crime and terrorism. This includes technological developments (e.g. ever-increasing volume of available data, social media and mobile technologies) as well as significant and rapid developments in the areas of terrorism and migration in the year 2015. The previous strategy cycle of 2010 - 2014 laid the foundation for Europol 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.
Europol has its origins in TREVI, a forum for internal security cooperation amongst EEC/EC interior and justice ministers created in 1975 and active until the Maastricht 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. 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 ministers finalizing the Ministerial Agreement on the Europol Drugs Unit on 2 June 1993 in Copenhagen. This intergovernmental agreement, outside of EU law, led to the establishment of a small team headed by Jürgen Storbeck, a senior German police officer who initially operated from some temporary cabins in a Strasbourg suburb (shared with personnel of the Schengen Information System) 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 include a range of trafficking 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 establishment of Europol was agreed to in the 1992 Maastricht 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). The Europol Convention was signed on 26 July 1995, and came into force in October 1998 after being ratified by all the member states. Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.
Reformation as a European Union Agency
Europol came under the EU's competence with the Lisbon Treaty, and the Convention was replaced by a Council Decision in 2009. It was reformed as a full EU Agency on 1 January 2010. This gave Europol increased powers to collect criminal information and European Parliament more control over Europol activities and budget.
- Committed by organised groups to generate large criminal profits such as online fraud
- Causing serious harm to the victim such as online child sexual exploitation
- Affecting critical infrastructure and information systems in the E.U.
The European Cybercrime Centre (EC3 or EC³) is an organisation of the European Union attached to Europol in The Hague. The purpose of the centre is to coordinate cross-border law enforcement activities against cybercrime and act as a centre of technological expertise. It will start with five experts, expanding to a staff of 40 in 2013, but was not expected to be fully functional till 2015. It was officially opened on 11 January 2013. It is tasked with assisting member states in their efforts to dismantle and disrupt cyber crime networks and will also develop tools and provide training.
In January 1, 2016 Europol's European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) became operational.
Activities and tasks
In effect, Europol assists 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:
- support centre for law enforcement operations;
- hub for information on criminal activities;
- centre for law enforcement expertise.
Organisation and staff
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
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.
Europol leadership is appointed by the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council. 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 the Justice and Home Affairs Council. together with the European Parliament, it approves Europol’s budget and regulations related to Europol’s work. Each year the Council forwards a special report to the European Parliament on the work of the Agency.
Financial supervision over Europol is aided by a committee of auditors drawn from the membership of the European Court of Auditors 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 has minimal jurisdiction over Europol with its remit extending only to limited interpretation of the Europol Convention. The European Ombudsman, 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.
The Director of Europol is able to enter into agreements for Europol with both countries and international organizations. Europol cooperates on an operational basis with Albania, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Republic of Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, the United States and Interpol.
- "Statistics & Data". europol.europa.eu. Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
- Statement of revenue and expenditure of the European Police Office for the financial year 2017 (2017/C 84/35) (PDF). Europol. 2017.
- "REGULATION (EU) 2016/794 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)". EUR-Lex. 24 May 2016.
- Europol Strategy 2016 - 2020. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Europol. 2016. ISBN 978-92-95200-71-5. doi:10.2813/983718.
- European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (PDF). Europol. 2017. pp. 10–11.
- "Agreement details". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
- "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)". Council of the European Union. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "Europol (European Police Office)". European Union. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "COUNCIL DECISION of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol)". Official Journal of the European Union. L (121). 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2014-11-06.
- "A Stronger Europol". Europol. 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
- "European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) opens on 11 January" (Press release). European Commission. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- "EC³, a European response to cybercrime [speech by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs]" (Press release). European Commission. 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- "EU cybercrime centre launched by Commissioner Malmström (with video of speech)". BBC. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- Ashford, Warwick (11 January 2013). "European Cybercrime Centre opens in The Hague". ComputerWeekly.com. Computer Weekly. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- "About Europol". europol.europa.eu. Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-18.
- "Accountability". Europol. Retrieved 2017-09-19.
- "External Cooperation". Europol. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
- "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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Europol.|
- Official Website of Europol
- Regulation 016/794 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) (current main legal instrument)
- Council Decision 2009/371/JHA establishing the European Police Office (Europol) (main legal instrument until 2016)
- Europol Convention of 1995 (main legal instrument until 2010)