Today, on 1 May 2017, Europol’s new Regulation enters into force and takes effect in all EU Member States. The new regulation was adopted on 11 May 2016, when the European Parliament voted on updated powers that will enable Europol to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. With the new regulation Europol is established as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation with a view to supporting cooperation among law enforcement authorities in the Union.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship: "Our citizens demand solutions from Europe that tackle security threats decisively effectively. Under its new mandate, Europol will become the epicentre of our joint efforts to fight terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime. A strengthened Europol has been a political priority for me from the very beginning and to this day, and will enable us to strengthen our hand against terrorists and criminals."
Europol’s Director Rob Wainwright made the following statement: "Europol welcomes the new regulation and thanks the European Parliament, Council of the European Union and the European Commission for placing their trust in a reformed and stronger Europol. The new powers will improve Europol’s ability to support EU Member States in the fight against terrorism and organised crime at a time when Europe faces many challenging security threats."
Europol’s new regulation introduces a number of changes to the structure of the organisation and how it works. But the essence of Europol's existence remains unchanged: Europol shall support and strengthen action by the competent authorities of the Member States and their mutual cooperation in preventing and combating serious crime affecting two or more Member States, terrorism and forms of crime which affect a common interest covered by a Union policy.
The new EU regulation will make it easier for Europol to set up specialised units to respond immediately to emerging terrorist threats and other forms of serious and organised crime. It also includes clear rules for existing units or centres such as the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU), both hosted at Europol. The new regulation will enhance Europol's mandate to ensure that it is fully equipped to counter the increase in cross-border crimes and terrorist threats. The new powers will also improve Europol’s ability to act as the EU’s information hub in the fight against terrorism and serious organised crime.
Europol's new powers will go hand in hand with increased data protection safeguards, democratic control and parliamentary scrutiny. The new Regulation increases the Agency's accountability and confirms Europol’s strong data protection regime. It sets out that the supervision of Europol will be carried out by the European Data Protection Supervisor as of 1 May 2017. National data protection authorities will continue to play an important advisory role as part of a Cooperation Board, of which the EDPS will also be a member.
Europol was established in 1995 when the Europol Convention was signed. In 2009 Europol became a full EU Agency when it came under the EU's competence with the Lisbon Treaty. The new regulation aligns the current framework of Europol (Council Decision 2009/371/JHA) with the requirements of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Europol, which has 1 000 staff members, has its headquarters in The Hague in the Netherlands. It is the EU's law enforcement agency, assisting national authorities by exchanging information, intelligence analyses and threats assessments. The agency deals with terrorism and international crime such as cybercrime, drug smuggling and people trafficking.