Europol (European Police Office)
Europol is a European Union agency with responsibility for improving cooperation between Member States' police authorities and law enforcement services.
The idea of a European Police Office was first raised at the Luxembourg European Council (June 1991). Provision for the Office was made in the Treaty of Maastricht, and it began its activities in January 1994 as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). The Convention establishing Europol was signed in July 1995 and it entered into force on 1 October 1998.
With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the provisions on Europol now fall under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Title V - Area of freedom, security and justice). Furthermore, a Council decision replaced the Europol Convention as of 1 January 2010.
Europol's field of competence is the combating of serious crime and terrorism, but it is not a European police force as such. It is an instrument at the service of Member States designed to help them deal with criminal phenomena. In practical terms, Europol's work consists of facilitating the flow of information between national authorities and providing the latter with crime analyses. Europol participates in joint investigation teams comprising representatives of the various Member State authorities and provides the information they need on the spot.