The European Parliament, in particular, the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), actively uses its powers with a view to safeguarding data protection. The Executive Director of Europol or other senior members of staff are regularly invited to answer any questions members of the European Parliament may have.
Furthermore, the European Parliament together with national parliaments have established a specialised Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) with the task of politically monitoring Europol’s activities in fulfilling its mission, including as regards the impact of those activities on the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons. This obviously includes the right to data protection. The JPSG can subpoena the Chairperson of the Management Board, the Executive Director or their Deputies to appear before the group at its request to discuss matters relating to Europol activities, including the budgetary aspects of such activities, the structural organisation of Europol and the potential establishment of new units and specialised centres, taking into account the obligations of discretion and confidentiality. The group may decide to invite other relevant persons to its meetings, where appropriate. This may include the Data Protection Officer whenever Europol’s internal supervision of data processing operations is concerned.
The particular relevance of data protection in the JPSG context is further underpinned by the fact that the EDPS shall appear before the JPSG at its request, and at least once a year, to discuss general matters relating to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular the protection of personal data, with regard to Europol’s activities, taking into account the obligations of discretion and confidentiality.
Europol is to provide the JSPG with certain strategic documents enabling it to exercise its political monitoring function. Furthermore, it can use the instrument of a public access request in order to request any additional information it deems relevant.
The European Parliament is being granted even more far-reaching powers, namely the explicit right to access sensitive non-classified as well as classified information subject to the appropriate proceedings.