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European Police Office – Europol (from 1.1.2010)

The decision establishes the European Police Office (Europol) as a European Union (EU) agency with responsibility for law-enforcement cooperation between Member States.

ACT

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

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial 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

Last updated: 07.09.2009

See also

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