On 16 and 17 November, Europol hosted the 4th Conference of the Heads of the International Law Enforcement Cooperation Units (ILECUs).
Welcomed by Patrick Byrne, Assistant Director Operations Department, a delegation of high level officials from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Kosovo region, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and Slovenia met to assess the developments of the ILECUs Project and agree on a way forward for this important initiative.
The Project, led by Austria and supported by a pool of other countries in the region, has been running for several years. Concrete results have been achieved through the establishment of International Law Enforcement Coordination Units in all six beneficiary countries.
The delegates were given an update on the recent reorganisation of Europol, with particular focus on Europol’s strategy towards South East Europe and the Western Balkans.
An introduction of the role of the Europol Regional Units and the Regional Support Officer was fundamental to the discussion as was the mutual understanding of the ‘end to end’ approach.
Particular importance was given to the need to finalise Operational Cooperation Agreements with Western Balkan countries and the progress on the activation of the SIENA (Secure Information Exchange Network Application) system and the placement of Liaison Officers at Europol. The future of the ILECUS was also discussed during the workshop session of this event.
This conference confirms the commitment and cooperation that exists between Europol and its law enforcement partners in South East Europe. Key to its success has been the active participation of the Liaison Officers of Albania and Croatia, two countries who have already deployed their representatives to Europol.