Europol is the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, established in 1995 by means of a Convention between Member States. It became a fully-fledged EU agency in 2010 under Council Decision and currently it has its legal basis in Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of 11 May 2016. Europol's objective is to facilitate and improve the effectiveness of Member States' cooperation in the prevention of and fight against the most serious forms of cross-border crime. It supports national law enforcement authorities through the collection, exchange and analysis of criminal information. In today’s world, where the way crime and terrorism are conducted changes rapidly, notably through the exponential use of cybertools and the web, Europol’s support to the Member States is even more pivotal to fight organised crime and terrorism.
The so-called ‘digital revolution’ has caused communication, business and financial flows to become more digital and global. Criminal and terrorist groups are adapting their modus operandi to this new reality. Terrorists and organised crime groups communicate via encrypted messages, organise and commit crimes via the internet, fund their activities and process their proceeds via international financial channels. Private companies such as banks and internet providers manage the digital infrastructure and global financial flows and have become key interlocutors in criminal investigations. In such a context, it is of utmost importance to ensure that Europol can keep abreast with the latest developments in crime and terrorism, and to provide the Agency with the mandate to do so.
One of the areas requiring an assessment is Europol’s ability to cooperate with private parties. Private entities like Internet providers and banks have in fact become key interlocutors in criminal investigations as managers of digital infrastructure and global financial flows. As criminals increasingly carry out their activities by means of online tools, law enforcement needs to be able to cooperate with private companies who own and manage online services.
In light of the above, and in line with the Council Conclusions (PDF) issued in December 2019 (see below), the Commission announced in its Work Programme 2020 a legislative proposal to to “strengthen the Europol mandate in order to reinforce operational police cooperation” among Member States.
In particular, the Commission initiative aims at tackling some specific problems that have been identified and described in the inception impact assessment:
- Enabling Europol to cooperate effectively with private parties, notably by means of direct exchanges of personal data;
- Streamlining the rules for establishing cooperation with third countries;
- Strengthening Europol’s tasks to address emerging threats and enhancing the Agency’s role on innovation;
- Strengthening Europol’s ability to request Member States to initiate cross border investigations and making the Agency the operational counterpart of the EPPO in criminal investigations;
- Strengthening Europol’s access to the Schengen Information System and establishing a link between Europol as the EU law enforcement information hub and the Prüm framework for decentralised information exchange.
- Maintaining the highest level of data protection by aligning the Agency’s mandate with (EDPS) Regulation 2018/1725;
This legislative initiative will be supported by an impact assessment; please find details on how to contribute below.
View the inception impact assessment for this initiative
The inception impact assessment informs stakeholders and citizens about the initiative. The feedback received will be published alongside the inception impact assessment.
Take part in the consultation activities
The consultation strategy (PDF) outlines the consultation objectives, maps the relevant stakeholders and explains which consultation methods and tools the European Commission is using in the course of the evaluation and impact assessment. Please note that this document is provided for information only and does not commit the European Commission in any way.
View the reference documents
- Europol 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)
- European Commission Adjusted Work Programme 2020
- Council Conclusions (PDF) on Europol's cooperation with Private Parties, 2 December 2019
- European Council Conclusions on setting the EU’s priorities for the fight against organised and serious international crime (PDF) between 2018 and 2021
- Europol Report on Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2019