2016 was a challenging year for European integration. Europe continued to struggle with an influx of migrants. EU Member States increased efforts to cooperate on a number of security issues, such as people smuggling and terrorism. European Union matters, including law enforcement cooperation, were affected by the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU. This combination posed new challenges for decision makers in the Member States and in European Union institutions and agencies. It also provided impetus for Member States to cooperate on sensitive issues, such as those related to terrorism or irregular migration.
Europol stayed on course and continued to upgrade its capabilities to respond best to new challenges and requests from the Member States. It enhanced the newly created European Migrant Smuggling Centre and the European Counter Terrorism Centre, supporting a number of international operations and dispatching its officers to the Member States, including hotspots in the countries affected most by irregular migration. In July 2016, Europol and the European Union Intellectual Property Office launched the Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), set up at Europol. The Europol database currently includes 22 000 suspects in the area of intellectual property crime. More than half of them were entered into the database last year.
All in all, more than 46 000 new cases were initiated in 2016; 16% more than in the previous year. Law enforcement authorities exchanged 870 000 operational messages, making it 72 000 exchanges per month. This has led to new investigative links and operational successes. Almost 1.5 million searches were performed in the Europol database in 2016, by more than 7000 users from the 28 Member States. Moreover, Europol connects 10 000 law enforcement experts via its Platform for Experts. This shows the growing scale of cooperation between Member States but also an increase in work performed by Europol at various levels.
It would not be possible to touch upon all the complex processes that Europol has handled in the last year. The Europol Review – General report on Europol activities will inform you in more detail about the most important activities in 2016 and the first four months of 2017. More information can be found on our website and social media accounts.