Brussels, 20 December 2006
The European Police Office (Europol) is about to be transformed. In order to give the Office a more flexible operating framework, the Commission has put forward a draft Council decision to replace the Convention of 26 July 1995, which set it up. As a result, Europol will become more flexible and effective in its task of assisting the Member States in the fight against terrorism, organised crime and all forms of serious crime.
Vice-President Franco Frattini, in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security policies, stated that "today it has become necessary to adapt Europol's structure and mandate to the new challenges of terrorism and serious transnational crime. Europol must be provided with a modern legal framework capable of evolving rapidly to cope with arising needs."
To this end the Commission's proposal also extends the remit of the Office to all serious transnational crime. It will also mean that Europol can assist the Member States in maintaining public order at large-scale events, such as international football matches. The way the data available to Europol is processed will be improved, while guaranteeing a high level of protection of personal data.
Europol, which was established as a result of the Maastricht Treaty, was the first body to operate in the area of European police cooperation. Since it was ratified, the Convention has been amended by three Protocols aimed at adapting Europol's tasks. However, these Protocols have not yet entered into force because they have not been ratified by all the Member States. The aims of the Commission's proposal are to make Europol an EU agency, to incorporate the changes introduced by the different Protocols and to take into account the discussions on the future of Europol which started back in 2001. Europol will thereby extend its mandate to cover all serious crime, whether organised or not, thereby facilitating, inter alia, the fight against terrorism, trafficking in human beings, drug trafficking, fraud and cyber crime. The text also contains substantive improvements designed to make Europol's action more effective, both in the area of repression and in the field of crime prevention. It will also empower Europol to acquire new data processing tools, in addition to its information system and analysis work files, such as the creation of ad hoc databases on high-risk internet sites.
The financing of Europol from the Community budget and the granting of EU
staff status to Europol employees follows logically from the Treaty. This change
will simplify the agency's operation and a flexible period of transition to the
new staff rules will be introduced. The European Parliament will better informed
and more involved. The Office's general structure will remain largely unchanged,
with its seat in The Hague and national units in the Member States, and a system
of secondments of liaison officers. The financial framework for the period
2007-2013 already provides for the financing of Europol's budget from 2010
(€82 million for the first year).