Tag Archives: Europol

Secretariat for the joint supervisory data-protection bodies

Secretariat for the joint supervisory data-protection bodies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Secretariat for the joint supervisory data-protection bodies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

Secretariat for the joint supervisory data-protection bodies

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2000/641/JHA of 17 October 2000 establishing a secretariat for the joint supervisory data-protection bodies set up by the Convention on the Establishment of a European Police Office (Europol Convention), the Convention on the Use of Information Technology for Customs Purposes and the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement on the gradual abolition of checks at the common borders (Schengen Convention).

Summary

The aim of this decision is to establish a single, independent joint secretariat for the existing supervisory bodies. In the performance of its tasks, the new secretariat will be bound only by instructions from the data-protection bodies set up by the Europol Convention, the Schengen Convention and the Convention on the use of Information Technology for Customs Purposes. This marks the first step towards the creation of a single supervisory body with legal personality and its own budget.

The data-protection secretariat will be headed by a secretary appointed by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council, acting on a proposal by the joint supervisory bodies, for a renewable term of three years. It will be entirely independent in the performance of its duties, subject only to instructions from the joint supervisory bodies and their chairmen.

The secretary will have to meet certain requirements: he must be a national of an EU Member State, offer every guarantee of independence, have full civil and political rights, and have the experience and expertise required for the performance of his duties. He may not engage in any other occupation, gainful or not.

He may be removed from office by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Council for serious misconduct or if he no longer fulfils the conditions required for the performance of his duties.

During and after his period of office, the data-protection secretary will be bound by professional secrecy. He will be assisted by the necessary staff, who will not be allowed to receive instructions from any authority or organisation apart from the joint supervisory bodies, the chairmen of these bodies and the secretary himself.

The General Secretariat of the Council will provide the data-protection secretariat with the infrastructure (offices, equipment, etc.) and human resources (interpreters) it needs.

The overheads of the data-protection secretariat will be charged to the section of the general budget of the European Union relating to the Council. The costs relating to meetings will be borne by the Council and by Europol (in the case of meetings relating to matters of implementation of the Europol Convention).

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Decision 2000/641/JHA 18.10.2000
applicable from 01.09.2001
OJ L 271 of 24.10.2000

 

Area of freedom, security and justice

Area of freedom, security and justice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Area of freedom, security and justice

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

Area of freedom, security and justice

The Treaty of Lisbon intends to reinforce the establishment of a European common area within which persons move freely and benefit from effective legal protection. The creation of such an area has implications for areas in which European citizens have high expectations, such as immigration and the fight against organised crime and terrorism. These issues have a significant cross-border dimension and therefore require effective cooperation at European level.

The Treaty of Lisbon divides the themes related to the area of freedom, security and justice into four fields:

  • policies related to border control, asylum and immigration;
  • judicial cooperation in civil matters;
  • judicial cooperation in criminal matters;
  • police cooperation.

Matters relating to criminal judicial cooperation and police cooperation were previously covered by the 3rd pillar of the European Union (EU), governed by intergovernmental cooperation. Under the framework of the 3rd pillar, European institutions did not have any competences and could therefore not adopt regulations or directives. The Treaty of Lisbon puts an end to this distinction and henceforth enables the EU to intervene in all matters related to the area of freedom, security and justice.

BORDER CONTROL, ASYLUM AND IMMIGRATION

The Treaty of Lisbon attributes new competences to the European institutions, which can henceforth adopt measures with a view to:

  • establishing common management of the EU’s external borders; in particular through the strengthening of the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders, known as Frontex;
  • creating a common European asylum system; such a system will be based on a uniform European status and common procedures for the granting and withdrawing of asylum;
  • establishing rules, conditions and rights in relation to legal immigration.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CIVIL MATTERS

The Treaty of Lisbon authorises the European institutions to adopt new measures concerning:

  • the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition: each judicial system must recognise decisions adopted by the judicial systems of the other Member States as valid and applicable;
  • effective access to justice;
  • the development of alternative methods of dispute settlement;
  • the training of the judiciary and judicial staff.

JUDICIAL COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

With the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU, the whole of criminal judicial cooperation becomes a field in which the European institutions may legislate.

Specifically, the European institutions may henceforth establish minimum rules concerning the definition and sanctioning of the most serious criminal offences. In addition, the EU may also intervene in the definition of common rules concerning the functioning of criminal procedure, for example with regard to the admissibility of evidence or the rights of individuals.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon intends to strengthen the role of Eurojust in the EU. Eurojust’s mission is to help coordinate investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities of Member States. Currently, Eurojust only has the power to make proposals: it can request national authorities to initiate investigations or prosecutions. Henceforth, the Treaty of Lisbon offers the European institutions the option of extending the missions and powers of Eurojust with the ordinary legislative procedure.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon considers the possible creation of an actual European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. Such an office would have significant powers as it could investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of crimes. In addition, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office would itself be capable of exercising the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of Member States.

Nevertheless, the Treaty of Lisbon does not yet establish the European public prosecutor’s office, but merely authorises the Council, acting unanimously, to adopt a regulation in this regard. If the Council does not reach unanimity, then nine Member States, at the least, will have the option of establishing a European public prosecutor’s office between them under the framework of enhanced cooperation.

POLICE COOPERATION

As with criminal judicial cooperation, police cooperation benefits from the abolition of the 3rd pillar of the EU. Henceforth, the European institutions will be capable of adopting regulations and directives in this field.

The ordinary legislative procedure is thereby extended to all non-operational aspects of police cooperation. In contrast, operational cooperation will be determined through a special legislative procedure requiring Council unanimity. However, the Treaty of Lisbon also provides for the option of establishing enhanced cooperation if unanimity is not reached by the Council.

Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the gradual strengthening of the European Police Office (Europol). As with Eurojust, the Treaty of Lisbon henceforth authorises the Council and the Parliament to develop the missions and powers of Europol under the framework of the ordinary legislative procedure. Currently, the role of Europol is limited to facilitating cooperation between the authorities of Member States. The Treaty of Lisbon specifies that new tasks could also include the coordination, organisation and implementation of operational actions.

EXEMPTIONS

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark benefit from special arrangements, which include all the measures adopted under the framework of the area of freedom, security and justice. These three countries have the option of deciding not to participate in the legislative procedures in this field. They will, therefore, not be bound by the adopted measures.

In addition, two types of derogating clause are applied to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark:

  • an “opt-in” clause which enables each of them to participate, on a case by case basis, in the adoption procedure for a measure or the application of a measure already adopted. They will then be bound by this measure in the same way as other Member States;
  • an “opt-out” clause enabling them not to apply a measure at any time.

Democratic control over Europol

Democratic control over Europol

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Democratic control over Europol

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

Democratic control over Europol

The Commission is clarifying the tasks and powers of Europol compared with those of national police forces. It is also analysing possible methods of exercising democratic control over Europol’s activities while preserving the confidentiality and freedom of action that are essential if Europol is to carry out its tasks.

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication to the European Parliament and the Council. Democratic control over Europol [COM(2002) 95 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In the interests of creating an area of freedom, security and justice, Article 29 of the Treaty on European Union provides for closer cooperation between police and customs authorities in preventing and combating crime. The competent authorities of the Member States may cooperate directly or through Europol.

In October 1999 the Tampere European Council recognised the key role of Europol in crime prevention and called on the Council to provide it with the necessary support and resources for carrying out its tasks (point 45 of the Conclusions).

When the Scoreboard was updated in October 2001, the Commission raised the question of revising the Europol Convention in order to introduce some form of democratic control [COM(2001) 628 final]. The importance of the issue was then highlighted in December 2001 in the Laeken Declaration on the future of the European Union, in which the Member States expressed their commitment to greater transparency and efficiency.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) recently launched a debate on the possibility of exercising democratic (and more particularly parliamentary) control over Europol.

European Parliament’s position

Maintaining that the arrangements for informing it about Europol’s activities did not constitute an adequate level of control, Parliament formulated proposals in a recommendation on reinforcing parliamentary controls and extending Europol’s powers (April 1999) and two reports on initiatives by the Member States to extend Europol’s powers (October 2000 and 2001).

Parliament made a number of suggestions in these documents. It called on the Council to:

  • provide for adequate parliamentary control in the event of Europol being given operational powers;
  • provide for the creation of a European public prosecutor in the event of Europol being given cross-border operational powers;
  • make the Director of Europol accountable to the competent Parliamentary committee.

Parliament also asked the Commission to present a proposal for a comprehensive reform of Europol which would include other topics, such as judicial review of the instruments of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (third pillar) by the Court of Justice and the funding of the instruments in question from the Community budget.

Analysis of Europol’s current tasks

In order to assess the effectiveness of existing control over Europol, the Commission believes it is necessary to analyse the tasks currently performed by the European Police Office. These essentially consist of exchanging information and analysing criminal activity. On a practical level, Europol stores, analyses and distributes the information it receives from the Member States or collects on its own initiative.

Unlike national police forces, Europol has no powers of enforcement or investigation (search, arrest, use of firearms, etc.). But, whereas until January 2002 Europol was competent to deal only with certain types of criminal activity, the Council Decision of 6 December 2001 extended Europol’s mandate to include all the forms of crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention (Official Journal C 362, 18.12.2001).

As Europol’s principal task is to collect information, its activities have a direct bearing on the right to privacy. The Europol Convention devotes a number of articles to the problem of the processing of personal data (Title IV), requiring each Member State to designate a national supervisory body and set up an independent joint supervisory body. In addition, the Council has adopted measures over the years to regulate the transmission of data originating from third parties or intended for third-party organisations.

Europol’s Management Board, which consists of representatives of the Member States and in which the Commission has observer status, meets at least six times a year. It performs a number of tasks which essentially amount to a close monitoring of Europol’s activities.

Practicalities of parliamentary control

Each year the Management Board reports to the Council meeting at the level of the ministers responsible for police cooperation. The ministers are accountable to their national parliaments.

The Europol Convention provides for:

  • the Presidency to present an annual report on Europol’s activities to the European Parliament. This report is not exactly the same as the annual report that Europol presents to the Council. The Commission is suggesting amending the Convention to provide for a single report to Parliament and the Council;
  • the European Parliament to be consulted before any amendment to the Convention.

In addition, the Treaties contain provisions allowing Parliament to intervene in the decision-making process relating to Europol, namely:

  • Article 39 of the EU Treaty introduces the procedure whereby Parliament must be consulted before the adoption of the measures referred to in Title VI of the EU Treaty (decisions, framework decisions). The same article also states that Parliament must be regularly informed by the Commission of activities carried out in the area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and that it may ask questions of the Council. Provision is also made for an annual debate on the progress that has been made;
  • Article 195 of the EC Treaty gives the Ombudsman the power to handle complaints of maladministration relating to Community institutions and bodies, including Europol.

Outlook

Debate is currently focusing on Article 30(2) of the EU Treaty, which states that within five years of the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (1 May 1999 – 1 May 2004) Europol should be able to participate in joint investigation teams, to ask the Member States to conduct investigations and, in general, to wield more extensive operational powers than it does at present.

As soon as such powers are conferred upon Europol, the question of democratic control over the European Police Office will have to be discussed.

Given the very limited nature of Europol’s powers at present, compared with those of the national police forces, the Commission believes that the controls provided for are formally adequate. They are, however, fragmented and in some cases insufficiently explicit.

The Commission therefore suggests that, as soon as Europol’s powers are extended, the arrangements for controlling it should be revised so as to provide for:

  • a regular, formal exchange of information between Europol, the national parliaments and the European Parliament;
  • the creation of a joint committee consisting of representatives of the parliamentary committees (in national parliaments and the European Parliament) that are responsible for police cooperation;
  • the amendment of the Europol Convention (presentation of a single annual report on Europol’s activities to both the European Parliament and the Council, the right of the European Parliament to summon the Director of Europol to appear before the competent committee).

Access to the Visa Information System by the national authorities and Europol

Access to the Visa Information System by the national authorities and Europol

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Access to the Visa Information System by the national authorities and Europol

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

Access to the Visa Information System (VIS) by the national authorities and Europol

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/633/JHA of 23 June 2008 concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information System (VIS) by designated authorities of Member States and by Europol for the purposes of the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and of other serious criminal offences.

Summary

The designated national authorities responsible for the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist or other serious criminal offences and Europol officials are authorised to access VIS data.

Access by the national authorities

The operating units within the designated national authorities may access VIS data through central access points assigned by Member States. Access to the data is applied for on a case-by-case basis with reasoned written or electronic requests. The requests are verified and processed by the central access points prior to querying the VIS. They transfer the data obtained from the query to the operation units. Only in urgent cases may the requests be submitted in written, electronic or oral form, with the verifications carried out ex-post.

The authorities designated by Member States are authorised to consult the VIS within the limits of their powers, provided that:

  • it is necessary for the purpose of investigating, preventing or detecting serious criminal offences;
  • it is necessary due to a specific case;
  • there are reasonable grounds for believing that the consultation will contribute to the prevention, detection or investigation of a serious criminal offence.

VIS data, which may be used for the search, are limited to:

  • surname, surname at birth, first names, sex and date, place and country of birth;
  • current nationality and nationality at birth of the visa applicant;
  • type and number of the travel document, the authority that issued it and the date of issue and expiry;
  • main destination and duration of the intended stay;
  • purpose of travel, and intended date of arrival and departure;
  • intended border of first entry or transit route;
  • residence;
  • fingerprints;
  • type of visa and number of the visa sticker;
  • details of the person that has either issued an invitation for the visa applicant or is liable for the applicant’s subsistence costs during his/her stay.

If the search with any of the above data is successful, the authorities may in addition access other data. This includes any other data on the visa application, photographs and any supplementary information added onto the application when the visa was issued, refused, annulled, revoked or extended.

Access by Europol

Access to the VIS for consultation by Europol takes place within the limits of that organisation’s mandate.

The officials of a specialist unit designated by Europol act as the central access point authorised to consult the VIS.

Processing of information obtained by Europol via the VIS is subject to the consent of the Member State that entered the data in question.

Protection of personal data

Personal data are processed by:

  • the national authorities as provided by national law, with a level of protection comparable to that granted by the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;
  • Europol by virtue of the Europol Convention and the rules adopted for its implementation, under the supervision of the independent joint supervisory body.

Only in urgent cases, and for the purpose of preventing and detecting terrorist and other serious offences, may personal data be transferred to third-countries or to international organisations. However, in such cases, the consent of the Member State that entered the data into the VIS must be obtained.

Member States are responsible for adopting security measures to guarantee data security during transmission and retrieval. Similarly, they must take measures that provide for administrative and criminal penalties if the use of VIS data contravenes with this Decision.

VIS data may be kept in national files only in individual cases and only for the duration necessitated by that particular case.

Each Member State and Europol must keep records of all data processing operations so that checks can be made to ensure that operations are lawful. These records must be deleted one year after the expiry of the retention period referred to in Regulation (EC) No 767/2008.

Costs

Each Member State and Europol is to set up and maintain, at their expense, the technical infrastructure necessary to implement this Decision. They are also to bear the costs of accessing the VIS.

Monitoring and evaluation

Two years after the VIS starts operating, and every two years thereafter, the Management Authority referred to in Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 will submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission a report on the technical aspects of its operations. Pending the Management Authority becoming operational, the Commission will be responsible for the task.

Three years after the VIS starts operating, and every four years thereafter, the Commission will produce an overall evaluation of the system.

Background

The VIS, which allows Member States to exchange visa data, was established by Council Decision 2004/512/EC of 8 June 2004. It not only contributes to the implementation of the common visa policy, but also to the Union’s internal security and especially to the fight against terrorism.

On 7 March 2005, the Council adopted conclusions stating that the authorities of the Member States responsible for internal security should be guaranteed access to the VIS “in order to achieve fully the aim of improving internal security and the fight against terrorism”.

This Decision follows from these conclusions. It builds on the bridging clause contained in Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 on the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) by establishing the legal basis for the national authorities’ and Europol’s access to the VIS.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2008/633/JHA

2.9.2008

OJ L 218 of 13.8.2008


Another Normative about Access to the Visa Information System by the national authorities and Europol

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

Access to the Visa Information System (VIS) by the national authorities and Europol

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2008/633/JHA of 23 June 2008 concerning access for consultation of the Visa Information System (VIS) by designated authorities of Member States and by Europol for the purposes of the prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist offences and of other serious criminal offences.

Summary

The designated national authorities responsible for the prevention, detection or investigation of terrorist or other serious criminal offences and Europol officials are authorised to access VIS data.

Access by the national authorities

The operating units within the designated national authorities may access VIS data through central access points assigned by Member States. Access to the data is applied for on a case-by-case basis with reasoned written or electronic requests. The requests are verified and processed by the central access points prior to querying the VIS. They transfer the data obtained from the query to the operation units. Only in urgent cases may the requests be submitted in written, electronic or oral form, with the verifications carried out ex-post.

The authorities designated by Member States are authorised to consult the VIS within the limits of their powers, provided that:

  • it is necessary for the purpose of investigating, preventing or detecting serious criminal offences;
  • it is necessary due to a specific case;
  • there are reasonable grounds for believing that the consultation will contribute to the prevention, detection or investigation of a serious criminal offence.

VIS data, which may be used for the search, are limited to:

  • surname, surname at birth, first names, sex and date, place and country of birth;
  • current nationality and nationality at birth of the visa applicant;
  • type and number of the travel document, the authority that issued it and the date of issue and expiry;
  • main destination and duration of the intended stay;
  • purpose of travel, and intended date of arrival and departure;
  • intended border of first entry or transit route;
  • residence;
  • fingerprints;
  • type of visa and number of the visa sticker;
  • details of the person that has either issued an invitation for the visa applicant or is liable for the applicant’s subsistence costs during his/her stay.

If the search with any of the above data is successful, the authorities may in addition access other data. This includes any other data on the visa application, photographs and any supplementary information added onto the application when the visa was issued, refused, annulled, revoked or extended.

Access by Europol

Access to the VIS for consultation by Europol takes place within the limits of that organisation’s mandate.

The officials of a specialist unit designated by Europol act as the central access point authorised to consult the VIS.

Processing of information obtained by Europol via the VIS is subject to the consent of the Member State that entered the data in question.

Protection of personal data

Personal data are processed by:

  • the national authorities as provided by national law, with a level of protection comparable to that granted by the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;
  • Europol by virtue of the Europol Convention and the rules adopted for its implementation, under the supervision of the independent joint supervisory body.

Only in urgent cases, and for the purpose of preventing and detecting terrorist and other serious offences, may personal data be transferred to third-countries or to international organisations. However, in such cases, the consent of the Member State that entered the data into the VIS must be obtained.

Member States are responsible for adopting security measures to guarantee data security during transmission and retrieval. Similarly, they must take measures that provide for administrative and criminal penalties if the use of VIS data contravenes with this Decision.

VIS data may be kept in national files only in individual cases and only for the duration necessitated by that particular case.

Each Member State and Europol must keep records of all data processing operations so that checks can be made to ensure that operations are lawful. These records must be deleted one year after the expiry of the retention period referred to in Regulation (EC) No 767/2008.

Costs

Each Member State and Europol is to set up and maintain, at their expense, the technical infrastructure necessary to implement this Decision. They are also to bear the costs of accessing the VIS.

Monitoring and evaluation

Two years after the VIS starts operating, and every two years thereafter, the Management Authority referred to in Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 will submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission a report on the technical aspects of its operations. Pending the Management Authority becoming operational, the Commission will be responsible for the task.

Three years after the VIS starts operating, and every four years thereafter, the Commission will produce an overall evaluation of the system.

Background

The VIS, which allows Member States to exchange visa data, was established by Council Decision 2004/512/EC of 8 June 2004. It not only contributes to the implementation of the common visa policy, but also to the Union’s internal security and especially to the fight against terrorism.

On 7 March 2005, the Council adopted conclusions stating that the authorities of the Member States responsible for internal security should be guaranteed access to the VIS “in order to achieve fully the aim of improving internal security and the fight against terrorism”.

This Decision follows from these conclusions. It builds on the bridging clause contained in Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 on the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation) by establishing the legal basis for the national authorities’ and Europol’s access to the VIS.

References

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2008/633/JHA

2.9.2008

OJ L 218 of 13.8.2008

European Police Office – Europol

European Police Office – Europol

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European Police Office – Europol

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

European Police Office – Europol (from 1.1.2010)

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol).

Summary

This decision establishes the European Police Office (Europol) to support and strengthen mutual cooperation between Member States in preventing and combating terrorism and organised crime, including other forms of serious crime. Europol is based in The Hague, the Netherlands, and has legal personality.

Europol has competence in situations where two or more Member States are in need of a common approach to tackle organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious crime. These also include related criminal offences.

Tasks of Europol

The main tasks of Europol are to:

  • collect, store, process, analyse and exchange information;
  • notify Member States of any connections between criminal offences concerning them;
  • assist Member States in investigations and provide intelligence and analytical support;
  • request Member States to initiate, conduct or coordinate investigations in specific cases and suggest the setting up of joint investigation teams;
  • draft threat assessments and other reports.

Based on Decision 2005/511/JHA on protecting the euro against counterfeiting, Europol is also designated as the central office to combat counterfeiting of the euro.

In matters where Europol has competence, its staff may participate in joint investigation teams. However, they may act only in a supportive capacity and may not take any coercive measures. The staff may provide information processed by Europol directly to the members of joint investigation teams.

National units

Each Member State is to designate a national unit to act as the sole liaison body between the competent authorities of its Member State and Europol. Only under conditions determined by the Member State in question may direct contact be permitted. Each national unit is to second at least one liaison officer to Europol, who will make up a national liaison bureau. These officers are to represent the interests of their national units and facilitate information exchanges between these units and Europol.

Information processing systems

Europol may process information and intelligence, including personal data, for the purpose of carrying out its tasks. To this end, a Europol Information System and analysis work files are established. Data entered into the system may concern persons who either have committed or are suspected of planning a criminal offence. It may consist of data relating directly to the person (name, nationality, social security number, etc.) and the offence committed. National units, liaison officers and Europol staff may input and retrieve data directly from the system. The designated competent authorities of Member States may merely search the system to ascertain that the data which they are requesting is available. Analysis work files may be opened by Europol to assemble, process and use data needed to assist in criminal investigations. In addition to the data on persons who have committed or are suspected of committing an offence, the files may contain data on witnesses, victims as well as contacts and associates of the offender.

Personal data

Any personal data retrieved from Europol may only be used by the competent authorities of Member States for the purpose of preventing and combating crimes. Europol may only use personal data to carry out its tasks. A Member State or third country or body may lay down further restrictions to the use of certain types of data it has communicated.

Europol may only hold data in data files for as long as is necessary for the performance of its tasks. Three years after input at the latest, the necessity for storing the data is reviewed. A data protection officer will ensure that personal data is processed lawfully.

Any person has the right to request a check of or access to personal data concerning him/her. In case the data is incorrect, the data subject has the right to request that it be corrected or deleted.

A national supervisory body in each Member State monitors that the input, retrieval and communication of personal data by its Member State is lawful. The joint supervisory body ensures the lawfulness of the storage, processing, use and transmission of personal data by Europol.

Relations with partners

Europol may cooperate with other European Union (EU) or Community institutions, bodies, offices and agencies when carrying out its tasks, in particular with Eurojust, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European External Borders Agency (Frontex), the European Police College (CEPOL), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

As determined by the Council, Europol may also cooperate with third countries and organisations, including the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).

Organisation

The management board is the decision-making body of Europol. It consists of one representative from each Member State and one representative from the Commission, with each member having one vote. The director, who is the legal representative of Europol, is in charge of the organisation’s daily management. S/he is appointed by the Council for a period of four years, extendable once.

Europol is financed from the general budget of the EU.

Background

Europol was originally established on the basis of the Europol Convention of 1995. In order to simplify the administration of Europol and to reform it when necessary, a proposal was adopted in 2006 to replace the convention by this decision.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2009/371/JHA

4.6.2009

1.1.2010 (4.6.2009 for the second subparagraph of Article 57(2) and Articles 59, 60 and 61)

OJ L 121 of 15.5.2009

Europol: European Police Office

Europol: European Police Office

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Europol: European Police Office

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

Europol: European Police Office (until 31.12.2009)

This Council act establishes the European Police Office (Europol). The objective of Europol is to improve police cooperation between Member States in order to combat terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime. Member States are setting up national units to liaise between Europol and the national authorities responsible for fighting crime.

Document or Iniciative

Council Act of 26 July 1995 drawing up the Convention on the establishment of a European Police Office (Europol Convention) [See amending acts].

Summary

This act sets up a European Police Office known as Europol. Europol is established in The Hague, Netherlands, with legal personality. The objective of Europol is to improve the effectiveness of, and cooperation between, the competent authorities in Member States in preventing and combating international organised crime.

Strengthening cooperation between Member States: Europol’s role

Unlike the police services of Member States, Europol does not have executive powers. It cannot detain individuals, nor can it conduct home searches. Its tasks are to facilitate the exchanges of information, analyse intelligence and coordinate operations involving several Member States.

As part of police cooperation between Member States, Europol:

  • facilitates the exchange of information between Member States;
  • collates and analyses information and intelligence;
  • notifies the competent authorities of Member States without delay via the national units of information concerning them and of any connections identified between criminal offences;
  • aids investigations in Member States;
  • maintains a computerised system of collected information;
  • helps Member States train their competent authorities;
  • facilitates technical assistance between Member States;
  • serves as the contact point for combating euro counterfeiting.

Europol takes action when one or two Member States are affected by serious international organised crime. This covers an increasing number of areas, namely:

  • preventing and combating terrorism;
  • drug trafficking;
  • trafficking in human beings;
  • illegal immigrant smuggling;
  • trafficking in nuclear and radioactive substances;
  • motor vehicle crime;
  • counterfeiting and forgery of means of payment;
  • money laundering (except for predicate offences).

Europol’s sphere of competence includes offences involving the types of crime indicated above.

Setting up a single contact point in Member States: the national units

Each Member State establishes or designates a Europol national unit (ENU). This unit is the only liaison body between Europol and the competent national authorities. It sends at least one liaison officer to Europol whose task is to represent the unit’s interests within Europol. The heads of the national units meet on a regular basis.

The national unit’s duties include:

  • supplying Europol with the information and intelligence it needs to carry out its tasks, and in particular providing input for Europol’s database;
  • replying to and issuing requests for information to Europol;
  • disseminating the information provided by Europol to the competent authorities.

ENUs are Europol’s only point of entry into Member States. However, the amendments made to the Europol Convention by the November 2003 Protocol will enable direct contacts between a Member State’s competent authorities and Europol, on condition that the ENU is informed at the same time.

Administering and funding Europol

Europol is constituted and administered by a number of bodies, namely:

  • the management board, comprising one representative of each Member State and of the Commission, which has observer status. The management board’s duties include helping to determine Europol’s priorities, unanimously determining the rights and obligations of liaison officers, laying down data-processing rules, preparing rules for work files and examining problems brought to its attention by the joint supervisory body. The board meets at least twice a year. Each year it unanimously adopts a report on Europol’s activities and a report on its future activities taking into account the Member States’ operational requirements and the budgetary implications for Europol. These reports are submitted to the Council of the European Union (EU) for approval. The European Parliament is informed. The management board is chaired by the representative of the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council;
  • the director, who, after obtaining the opinion of the management board, is unanimously appointed by the Council for a four-year period, which is renewable once. He is assisted by three deputy directors who are appointed by the Council for a once-renewable four-year period. Their tasks are determined by the director. The director’s responsibilities include performance of the tasks assigned to Europol, day-to-day administration and personnel management. The director is accountable to the management board and is Europol’s legal representative;
  • the financial controller, who is unanimously appointed by the management board and accountable to it;
  • the financial committee, consisting of one representative from each Member State.

Europol is financed from Member States’ contributions. The accounts in respect of all income and expenditure entered in the budget, together with the balance sheet showing Europol’s assets and liabilities, are subject to an annual audit. The draft budget and budget implementation are examined by the Council.

Compiling information: the IT database

To perform its tasks, Europol maintains an IT database. Under no circumstances may this database be linked to other automated processing systems, except for the systems of the national units. The national units are responsible for the security of data-processing equipment and for carrying out checks on the storage and deletion of data files. The system is made up of three components: the IT information system, work files and index system.

The information system may only be used to store, modify and utilise data that are necessary for the performance of Europol’s tasks. The system does not contain data on related criminal offences. The data concern persons who, under the national law of a Member State, are suspected of having committed or having taken part in a criminal offence for which Europol is competent or who have been convicted of such an offence. The system also contains data concerning persons who are suspected of planning to commit criminal offences for which Europol is competent.

Personal data may only include the following details:

  • surname, given names and any alias or assumed name;
  • date and place of birth;
  • nationality;
  • sex;
  • other characteristics likely to assist in identification, such as any specific objective physical characteristics not subject to change.

The information system also includes the following details:

  • criminal offences, alleged crimes and where and when they were committed;
  • means that were or may have been used to commit the crimes;
  • the departments handling the case and their file references;
  • suspected membership of a criminal organisation;
  • convictions relating to criminal offences for which Europol is competent;
  • references to Europol or the inputting national unit.

Access to the information system is available to the national units, liaison officers, the director, the deputy directors and duly authorised Europol officials. The competent authorities designated by Member States have limited access to the information system. Further information may be obtained only via the national units. Only the unit that entered the data may modify, correct or delete them.

Europol may store, modify, and utilise data on the criminal offences for which it is competent in other files (work files), including data on related criminal offences. Files opened for the purposes of analysis, with the aim of helping a criminal investigation, concern the following subjects:

  • persons who, under the national law of a Member State, are suspected of having committed or having taken part in a criminal offence for which Europol is competent or who have been convicted of such an offence;
  • persons who, under the national law of a Member State, are suspected of planning to commit criminal offences for which Europol is competent;
  • persons called on to testify in investigations in connection with offences or criminal proceedings;
  • victims of one of the offences under consideration or persons who could be victims of such offences;
  • contacts and associates;
  • persons who can provide information on the offences under consideration.

All IT databases containing personal data must indicate:

  • the file’s purpose and name;
  • the nature of the data to be stored;
  • the time limits for examining the data, duration of storage, etc.

Each analysis project entails setting up an analysis group comprising analysts and other Europol officials, as well as liaison officials and/or experts from Member States. Only analysts are authorised to input data into work files, but all participants may retrieve data from them. The collection, storage and processing of data takes place in strict compliance with the arrangements for protecting individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data.

Data may not be kept on file for more than three years. However, Europol reviews annually the need to continue keeping the data for the purposes of the file concerned. The Europol director may, where appropriate, decide to keep data for a further three-year period.

Europol sets up an index system for data stored in work files. The director, deputy directors, duly authorised officials of Europol and liaison officers are entitled to consult the index system.

Data protection: processing arrangements

Europol passes on any information concerning their Member State to the national units, as well as to their liaison officers if the national units so request. Member States ensure a standard of data protection under their national legislation that must at least correspond to the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981. Each Member State must ensure that the data it transmits to Europol are legal, accurate and up to date, and check the storage time limits. Europol is responsible for data transmitted to it by third parties or resulting from analyses that it has carried out.

Individuals wishing to access data relating to them that have been stored at Europol may make a request to that effect free of charge to the national competent authority in the Member State of their choice. The competent authority refers the matter to Europol and informs the enquirer that Europol will reply to them directly. Requests must be fully dealt with by Europol within three months of receipt by the national authority. The right of individuals to access their data or to have such data checked must be exercised in accordance with the law of the Member State where the request was made. Europol may refuse to provide data where necessary to:

  • enable it to perform its tasks properly;
  • protect security and public order in Member States;
  • prevent crime;
  • protect the rights and freedoms of third parties.

Individuals have the right to ask Europol to correct or delete incorrect data concerning them. If data that are incorrect or contravene this Convention have been passed directly to Europol by a Member State, it must correct or delete them in collaboration with Europol. Europol informs requesters that the data concerning them have been corrected or deleted. If they are not satisfied with Europol’s reply or have received no reply within three months, they may refer the matter to the joint supervisory body. This independent body monitors Europol’s activities to ensure that the rights of individuals are not violated by the storage, processing or utilisation of the data in its possession.

In addition to the joint supervisory body, each Member State designates a national supervisory body to ensure that personal data are input, retrieved and transmitted to Europol in accordance with national law. This body also ensures that the rights of the individuals concerned are not affected. Individuals have the right to ask the national body to check that the data concerning them were input, transmitted and consulted in accordance with the law. This right is exercised in accordance with the national law of the Member State to which the national supervisory body belongs.

Each Member State is liable for any damage caused to individuals as a result of legal or factual errors in data stored or processed at Europol. Only the Member State in which the event that gave rise to the damage occurred may be the subject of an action for compensation on the part of the injured party, who must apply to the courts with jurisdiction under the national law of that Member State.

Ensuring that action is effective: cooperation with European institutions, international institutions and third countries

On the basis of an act of its management board, Europol has concluded agreements with the following EU bodies through its International Relations – Cooperation agreements:

  • the European Central Bank (ECB);
  • Eurojust;
  • the European Commission;
  • the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction;
  • the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).

This Convention allows Europol to conclude strategic or operational cooperation agreements (only operational agreements provide for transmission of personal data) with third countries and international organisations.

Background

Member States have ratified this Convention in accordance with their respective constitutional arrangements. Following the Convention’s entry into force, various measures were taken to enable the European Police Office to be established. These concern the rights and obligations of liaison officers, rules for data files, rules of procedure of the joint supervisory body, staff regulations, rules on confidentiality, the financial regulation, the headquarters agreement, the protocol on privileges and immunities and the agreements on the privileges and immunities applicable to liaison officers. Europol started operations on 1 July 1999, when it replaced the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU), which had been set up on a provisional basis in 1995.

This Convention is open to accession by any state that becomes a member of the EU. Reservations are not permissible.

Two protocols to the Convention were adopted by the Council in November 2002 and November 2003. They have given Europol new powers to assist Member States, including: coordinating joint investigation teams, requesting investigations, allowing third countries (with which Europol has concluded operational agreements) to take part in analysis groups, etc.

As of 1 January 2010, the Convention is replaced by Council Decision 2009/371/JHA establishing Europol. Consequently, possible amendments to Europol will be easier in future. The decision will establish Europol as a Union entity, subjecting it to the general rules and procedures of similar bodies and agencies, and thus simplifying its administration. At the same time, Europol will be funded from the general budget of the EU, placing it under the budgetary control of the European Parliament.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Act of 26 July 1995

26.7.1995

OJ C 316 of 27.11.1995

Convention based on Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the establishment of a European Police Office (Europol Convention)

1.10.1998

OJ C 316 of 27.11.1995

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Act of 27 November 2003
(protocol)

18.4.2007

OJ C 2 of 6.1.2004

Council Act of 28 November 2002
(protocol on joint investigation teams)

29.3.2007

OJ C 312 of 16.12.2002

Council Act of 30 November 2000
(protocol on money laundering)

29.3.2007

OJ C 358 of 13.12.2000

Council Decision of 3 December 1998
(trafficking in human beings)

1.1.1999

OJ C 26 of 30.1.1999

Council Decision of 3 December 1998
(terrorism)

1.1.1999

OJ C 26 of 30.1.1999

Related Acts

Council Decision 2005/511/JHA of 12 July 2005 on protecting the euro against counterfeiting, by designating Europol as the Central Office for combating euro counterfeiting [Official Journal L 185 of 16.7.2005].

Council Decision of 6 December 2001 extending Europol’s mandate to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention [Official Journal C 362 of 18.12.2001].

Protecting the euro against counterfeiting: the role of Europol

Protecting the euro against counterfeiting: the role of Europol

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protecting the euro against counterfeiting: the role of Europol

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Fight against counterfeiting

Protecting the euro against counterfeiting: the role of Europol

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2005/511/JHA of 12 July 2005 on protecting the euro against counterfeiting, by designating Europol as the Central Office for combating euro counterfeiting.

Summary

The European Union is stepping up cooperation among Member States and between Member States and Europol with a view to protecting the euro against counterfeiting at international level. Third countries need a central contact for information on counterfeit euros. All such information is to be brought together for purposes of analysis at Europol, which acts as the Central Office for combating euro counterfeiting pursuant to the International Convention for the Suppression of Counterfeiting Currency agreed on 20 April 1929 in Geneva (“Geneva Convention”).

Role of Europol

Europol acts as the Central Office for combating euro counterfeiting within the meaning of Article 12 of the Geneva Convention, which states “In every country, within the framework of its domestic law, investigations on the subject of counterfeiting should be organised by a central office.”

Within the context of its mandate, Europol:

  • centralises and processes all information of a nature to facilitate the investigation, prevention and combating of euro counterfeiting and forwards this information to the national central offices of the Member States;
  • corresponds directly with the central offices of third countries in accordance with the rules on the transmission of personal data;
  • forwards, in so far as it considers it expedient, to the central offices of third countries a set of specimens of actual euros;
  • regularly notifies the central offices of third countries of new currency issued, the withdrawal of currency from circulation, any discovery of counterfeit or falsified euro currency, details of discoveries of counterfeiting, etc.

Where counterfeiting of all other currencies is concerned, the national central offices retain competence.

Applying the 1929 Geneva Convention effectively

The International Convention for the Suppression of Counterfeiting Currency agreed on 20 April 1929 in Geneva should be applied more effectively. It lays down effective rules for preventing and combating counterfeiting infringements. The word “currency” refers to banknotes and coins having legal tender.

The Council considers it expedient that all Member States should become contracting parties to the Convention.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2005/511/JHA 16.07.2005 Official Journal L 185 of 16.07.2005

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances.

Summary

The decision establishes a mechanism for a rapid exchange of information on new psychoactive substances. It repeals Joint Action 97/396/JHA, which concerned only new synthetic drugs. The Commission’s evaluation of the joint action of 1997, provided for by the European Action Plan to Combat Drugs (2000-04), showed that it should be strengthened and given a new direction.

The decision takes note of the information on the suspected adverse reactions to be notified under the pharmacovigilance system established by Title IX of Directive 2001/83/CE. It also provides for an assessment of the risks which these new psychoactive substances contain, so that supervisory measures may be applied.

It applies to substances not currently listed in any of the schedules to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which may pose a comparable threat to public health as the substances listed in Schedule I or II or IV thereof, and the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, which may pose a comparable threat to public health as the substances listed in Schedule I or II or IV thereof.

Each European Union (EU) country shall ensure that its Europol National Unit and its representative in the European Information Network on Drugs and Drug Addiction (Reitox) provide information on the manufacture, traffic and use of new psychoactive substances and of preparations containing new psychoactive substances.

Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) collect the information received from EU countries through a reporting form and communicate this information immediately to each other and to the Europol national units, the EU countries’ representatives in the Reitox network, the European Commission and the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA).

If necessary, in light of the information supplied by EU countries, Europol and the EMCDDA may submit a joint report containing, among other things, information on the involvement of organised crime in the manufacture or trafficking of the new psychoactive substance, a first indication of the risks associated with the new psychoactive substance, including the health and social risks, and the characteristics of users, the date of notification of the new psychoactive substance to the EMCDDA or to Europol, etc.

The EMEA informs Europol and the EMCDDA whether in the EU or in any EU country:

  • the new psychoactive substance has obtained a marketing authorisation;
  • the substance is the subject of an application for a marketing authorisation;
  • a marketing authorisation that had been granted in respect of the new psychoactive substance has been suspended.

The Council, taking into account the advice of Europol and the EMCDDA, may request an assessment of the health and social risks caused by the use of, the manufacture of, and traffic in, a new psychoactive substance, the involvement of organised crime and the possible consequences of control measures.

The risk assessment report includes the physical and chemical description of the new psychoactive substance, the health and social risks associated with the new psychoactive substance and the chemical precursors that are used for the manufacture of the substance, etc.

No risk assessment is carried out on a new psychoactive substance in the absence of a Europol/EMCDDA joint report or where the new psychoactive substance concerned is at an advanced stage of assessment within the United Nations system, namely once the WHO expert committee on drug dependence has published its critical review together with a written recommendation. No assessment is carried out if the new psychoactive substance is used to manufacture a medicinal product that is the subject of an authorisation or an authorisation request. There is no assessment either if the new psychoactive substance is used to manufacture a medicinal product for which a marketing authorisation has been suspended.

Within six weeks from the date on which it received the risk assessment report, the Commission will present to the Council an initiative to have the new psychoactive substance subjected to control measures. If the Commission deems that it is not necessary to undertake this initiative, it may be presented to the Council by one or more EU countries.

If the Council decides to submit a new psychoactive substance to control measures, EU countries will endeavour to take the necessary measures to submit the new psychotropic drug to control measures and criminal penalties as provided under their legislation by virtue of their obligations under the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

The EMCDDA and Europol report annually to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the efficacy and achievements of the system created by this decision.

EU countries and the EMEA ensure an appropriate exchange of information between the mechanism set up by means of this decision and the pharmacovigilance systems as defined and established under Title VII of Directive 2001/82/EC and Title IX of Directive 2001/83/EC.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2005/387/JHA

10.5.2005

OJ L 127, 20.5.2005

Exchange of information on drugs

Exchange of information on drugs

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exchange of information on drugs

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

Exchange of information on drugs

To strengthen cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.

2) Document or Iniciative

Joint Action 96/699/JHA of 29 November 1996, adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning the exchange of information on the chemical profiling of drugs to facilitate improved cooperation between Member States in combating drug trafficking
[Official Journal L 322 of 12.12.1996].

3) Summary

This Joint Action is intended to establish a more cohesive mechanism for the transmission and dissemination of the results of drug profiling in Member States. It envisages the exchange of information relating to the chemical profiling of cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines and their ecstasy-type derivatives MDA, MDMA and MDEA, and such other drugs or psychotropic substances as Member States see fit.

The Europol Drugs Unit is designated as the authority to which information from Member States concerning chemical profiling is to be transmitted.

The Europol Drugs Unit will transmit to all Member States the information supplied under 1.

Act Date
of entry into force
Deadline for implementation in the Member States
Joint action 96/699/JHA 12.12.1996

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work