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Brussels, 18 April 2008

Europol to become EU agency in 2010

Police coordination centre in The Hague to join family of EU bodies.

For Vice-President Jacques Barrot, "This is a veritable transformation, not merely a cosmetic one. Europol will become a full EU body, with the tools to support law enforcement agencies in the Member States even more effectively. As a result, European police forces will cooperate more closely".

After some 15 months of intense discussion in the Council, the Member States agreed on the text of a Decision conferring EU agency status on the European Police Office (Europol) effective 1 January 2010.

The Decision's aim is two-fold:

First, to replace the current Europol Convention with a Council Decision, so that Europol's legal framework can be adapted more rapidly in response to trends in crime. This is no trivial matter when one considers that it took an average of more than five years to ratify the protocols to the Europol Convention adopted in 2000, 2002 and 2003.

Second, to replace intergovernmental financing with Community funding. Europol will become an EU agency, subject to the Financial Regulation and the Staff Regulations of officials and other servants of the European Communities.

The improvements resulting from Europol's new legal framework, in terms of organisational flexibility and effectiveness, will go hand in hand with closer involvement of the European Parliament, notably in its capacity as budgetary authority;

By their decision, the Member States are acknowledging the importance of Europol's role as a key contributor to the European project and placing it on equal footing with the other European institutions.

In substance, the extension of Europol's mandate to cover all serious forms of cross-border crime represents an undeniable advance in boosting police cooperation in Europe and better protecting citizens.

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