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Brussels, 27 March 2013
Questions and Answers: Enhancing Europol's support to law enforcement cooperation and training
What does the Commission propose?
The Commission's proposal aims to improve the overall law enforcement cooperation in the EU by making Europol the hub for information sharing and analysis on serious crime, as well as the EU's single law enforcement training entity.
Analysis of information is the cornerstone of modern intelligence-led law enforcement activities. The proposed Regulation boosts Europol's analytical capabilities as it will be better equipped to receive - from Member States and from third countries – relevant information on crime, and - thanks to modern IT and data management rules - to produce more accurate analysis in support of cross-border investigations.
The gathering, analysis and dissemination of such information entails the exchange of personal data. The proposed Regulation therefore includes very high standards of data protection and data security, increases Europol's accountability and improves its governance. It also sets out a mechanism for the control of Europol's activities by the European Parliament and the national Parliaments.
Finally, the proposal makes Europol responsible for joint training and exchange programmes for police and other law enforcement personnel (in line with the Communication on Law Enforcement Training Scheme which accompanies the Regulation).
Why merging Cepol within Europol?
Merging Europol and Cepol into a single agency, situated at the current headquarters of Europol in The Hague, will create synergies and efficiency gains.
Combining the operational police cooperation know-how of Europol with the training and educational expertise of Cepol will strengthen the links between the two fields. Contacts between the operational and the training staff working within a single agency will help identify training needs and tailor activities to the benefit of EU police cooperation overall.
Duplication of support functions in the two agencies will be avoided. Following the merger of Cepol within Europol, an estimated €17.2 million saving would be reached over the 2015-2020 period (in particular as a result of lower costs of building, equipment, redeployment of staff) and could be reinvested in training.
What should be improved in training?
Training of law enforcement officers is of key importance for cross-border law enforcement cooperation and for building mutual trust. However, despite the efforts of, and cooperation between, national, EU and international actors, significant gaps remain between training needs and current training supply in the EU.
For instance, available EU instruments for police cooperation and the role of EU agencies created to support law enforcement services in fighting crime should be better known and increasingly used by officials to reach their full potential. Training should adequately respond to training needs and more firmly support priorities agreed at EU level for operational cooperation, such as fighting cybercrime and trafficking in drugs and in human beings. Law enforcement officials from Member States taking part in a civilian mission in a third country under the EU umbrella should have a common level of knowledge and skills. Cross-cutting issues for EU level training such as quality of trainers could also be improved.
What will change concretely in training?
While training is currently targeted at senior or mid-ranking officers, the European Law Enforcement Training Scheme (LETS) would be available to law enforcement officials of all ranks, from police officers to border guards and customs officers as well as other state officials such as prosecutors. It should contribute to a common EU law enforcement culture.
The Training Scheme is divided into four strands:
How will the Training Scheme be implemented?
Training under strand three and four should be delivered by Cepol, or the Europol Academy, or on its behalf by a selected centre of excellence in the Member States. The implementation of strand one and two is the competence of Member States.
Europol will be responsible for implementing the Training Scheme. A new training directorate at Europol, the Europol Academy, will be supporting and coordinating the delivery of training1. It will do so by developing regular assessments of training needs and multi-annual learning programmes, and by working with Member States and national centres of excellence to improve the quality of training and the skills of trainers acting at EU level.
Does the proposal improve Europol's operational capacity?
Information sharing and analysis is critical to the success of the Member States' cooperation in the concerted fight against serious organised crime.
Europol will become a hub for information exchange on serious crime to the benefit of the law enforcement services across the EU. The proposed Regulation aims to increase the flow of information on crime to Europol, to allow Europol to produce more timely and targeted high-quality analysis to support cross-border cooperation and investigations.
Enhancing Europol's analytical capability also benefits European policy makers, as it will have a positive impact on the quality and accuracy of the agency's strategic threat assessments - on which the institutions rely to agree on the EU priorities in the fight against serious organised crime.
How does the proposal ensure greater data protection?
The proposal reinforces the autonomous data protection regime applicable to Europol's activities. For instance:
How will the parliamentary scrutiny of Europol be enhanced?
The proposed Regulation ensures that Europol's activities are scrutinised by the democratically elected representatives of the EU citizens.
In particular, the European Parliament and national parliaments should:
In addition, the European Parliament:
In order to allow the European Parliament to exercise the scrutiny, and at the same time guarantee confidentiality of operational information, Europol and the European Parliament need to conclude working arrangement on the access to European Union Classified Information (EUCI) and sensitive non-classified information.
What will change on governance of the agency?
Governance of Europol is aligned with the Common Approach on the EU decentralised agencies which all EU institutions endorsed. This contributes to a coherent vision on the role and the place of the agencies in the EU. The governance set-up and procedures are streamlined to guarantee better effectiveness. In addition, the composition of the Management Board is redesigned to reflect the dual mandate of Europol - law enforcement cooperation and training.
Frontex will however remain responsible for training of border guards in accordance with its legal framework.
EUROPOL on the basis of Art. 340 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the Member State on the basis of its national law