Operational coordination is increasingly being recognised by EU Member States as a desirable and beneficial service, especially in large-scale operations involving several countries.
One of Europol’s three main goals is to provide the most effective operational support and expertise to investigations in Member States by developing and employing a comprehensive portfolio of services.
Its suite of operational-coordination services includes:
- facilitating international cooperation and the exchange of criminal intelligence;
- identifying organised crime groups;
- targeting the key perpetrators behind criminal networks;
- providing on-the-spot-support, including access to criminal databases and analytical tools, to law enforcement;
- offering operational analysis;
- providing forensic and technical expertise;
- offering training and capacity building;
- offering mobile offices;
- making financial support available.
Europol’s Operational Centre is the hub for the exchange of data among Europol, EU Member States and third parties on criminal activity.
Under its Strategy for 2016 to 2020, Europol aims to provide high-quality operational support for investigations in Member States in three key priority areas aligned with the European Agenda on Security:
- serious and organised crime
Operational coordination includes cooperation with other EU agencies. Europol work closely with Frontex to tackle migrant smuggling networks, and with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to protect intellectual property rights.
Operational cooperation on fighting cybercrime is achieved through the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), an innovative country-led framework that operates from Europol’s headquarters and that is supported by its European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).
Under its 2016 Work Programme, Europol has set a number of objectives that together will enhance the coordination of law enforcement operations in the EU. These include:
- taking an active role in coordinating operations by offering a comprehensive portfolio of operational coordination services;
- driving operational action in priority crime areas where progress has been slower than expected;
- triggering more high-impact operations and communicate better Europol’s involvement and added value in them.