Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency. Our main goal is to achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, we assist the 28 EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organisations.
Large-scale criminal and terrorist networks pose a significant threat to the internal security of the EU. Terrorism, cybercrime and people smuggling, to name just a few, pose a severe threat to the safety and livelihood of its people. The biggest security threats come from:
- international drug trafficking and money laundering;
- organised fraud;
- the counterfeiting of euros;
- people smuggling.
But new dangers are also growing, such as online radicalisation and trafficking in human beings. The networks behind the crimes in each of these areas are quick to seize new opportunities, and they are resilient in the face of traditional law enforcement measures.
Our position at the heart of the European security architecture allows us to offer a unique range of services and to serve as a:
- support centre for law enforcement operations;
- hub for information on criminal activities;
- centre for law enforcement expertise.
EUROPOL IN NUMBERS
- More than 1000 staff
- 200 Europol Liaison Officers
- Around 100 crime analysts
- Supporting over 40 000 international investigations each year
Analysis is at the core of our activities. We employ around 100 criminal analysts, who are among the best trained in Europe. They use state-of-the-art tools to support investigations by law enforcement in Member States on a daily basis.
To give our partners deeper insights into the crimes they are tackling, Europol produces regular assessments that offer comprehensive, forward-looking analyses of crime and terrorism in the EU, including:
- The EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), which:
- identifies and assesses emerging threats;
- describes the structure of organised crime groups (OCGs) and the way they operate as well as the main types of crime affecting the EU;
- The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), which gives a detailed account of the state of terrorism in the EU;
- The annual Europol Review, which outlines results and specific information on the types of functions and systems Europol has at its disposal, and on these deliver, in the form of coordinated support for police operations throughout Europe and sometimes farther afield.
Through these reports and in other ways, Europol serves as an EU centre of expertise, providing a central platform for law enforcement experts from the Member States.
International crime and terrorist groups operate worldwide and make use of the latest technology. To ensure an effective and coordinated response, Europol needs to be equally flexible and innovative, and to make sure its methods and tools are up to date.
That is why we are home to a number of specialised bodies and bespoke systems.
The bodies are:
- Europol’s operational centre, the 24/7 hub for data exchange among Europol, EU Member States and third parties;
- the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), which aims to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU and thus help protect European citizens, businesses and governments from online crime;
- the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), which drives intelligence-led, coordinated action against key cybercrime threats and top targets by stimulating and facilitating the joint identification, prioritisation, preparation and initiation of investigations;
- the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), an operations centre and hub of expertise that is a central part of the EU’s efforts to enhance its response to terror;
- the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), which supports EU Member States in targeting and dismantling the complex and sophisticated criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling;
- the Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3), which is central to the EU’s efforts to stem the tide of intellectual property crime within and outside the EU.
The specialised systems, which offer fast and secure capabilities for storing, searching, visualising and linking information, thus comprise a sophisticated crime-fighting toolbox, which include:
- FIU.net, a decentralised and sophisticated computer network supporting the financial intelligence units (FIUs) in the EU in their fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism;
- The Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), a state-of-the-art platform that meets the communication needs of EU law enforcement;
- the Europol Platform for Experts (EPE), a secure, collaborative web platform for specialists working in a variety of law enforcement areas;
- the European Information System, the reference system for offences, the individuals involved in them, and other related data.
Europol is a high-security operational centre that operates non-stop: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Europol officers are always ready to travel at short notice and provide support through our mobile office. Our presence is also in demand in the fight against illicit drugs, and we have a fully operational team to help dismantle synthetic drugs laboratories on the spot.
Since Europol can respond flexibly, we focus on different areas of criminal and terrorist activity from one year to the next, depending on requirements. Our main priorities, however, tend to remain relatively stable, reflecting those of international criminal and terrorist groups. Over the years we have built up substantial experience in fighting drug trafficking, illicit immigration networks and trafficking in human beings, illicit vehicle trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering and currency forgery. Europol is the central European office for combatting euro counterfeiting.
Europol enjoys excellent cooperative arrangements with law enforcement partners in Europe and beyond. It also values its accountability arrangements which are among the most robust and transparent in the world.
We welcome public interest in our work and trust that this website offers the reader a good illustration of our activities, the responsible way in which they are carried out, and the impact they are having on making Europe safer.
Europol supports law enforcement authorities throughout the EU on crime fighting activities in all its mandated areas (as detailed in the European Council Decision establishing the European Police Office, as our agency is officially called).
These activities focus on:
- illicit drugs
- trafficking in human beings
- facilitated illegal immigration
- intellectual property crime
- cigarette smuggling
- euro counterfeiting
- VAT fraud
- money laundering and asset tracing
- mobile organised-crime groups
- outlawing motorcycle gangs
Management and control
Europol is accountable at the EU level to the Council of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs.
The Council is responsible for the main control and guidance of Europol. It appoints the Director and the Deputy Directors, and approves Europol’s budget (which is part of the general budget of the EU), together with the European Parliament. It also can adopt, together with the European Parliament, regulations related to Europol’s work. Each year the Council forwards a special report to the European Parliament on the work of Europol.
Europol is headed by a Director, who is Europol’s legal representative and is appointed by the Council of the European Union. Europol’s current Director is Rob Wainwright, who assumed the post in 2009.
He is assisted by three Deputy Directors:
- Wil van Gemert, Operations Department
- Oldrich Martinu, Governance Department
- Luis de Eusebio Ramos, Capabilities Department
Europol staff members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and nations.
On 1 January 2010 Europol became a full EU agency.