The Malta Independent 18 November 2017, Saturday

Europol’s new legal framework a step forward for European policing and security

Monday, 1 May 2017, 14:52 Last update: about 8 months ago

“The security challenges Europe is facing today have forced a reconsideration of how the European Union manages security concerns and where it focuses its energies. Thus, the coming into force of a new legal framework for the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, today 1st of May 2017 is not only timely but also pivotal; it is truly a step forward for European policing and security,” Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Carmelo Abela, said. He was addressing Europol’s Management Board members convening at the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta today.

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Minister Abela said that Europol has come a long way since its inception in 1998. It has proven invaluable in bringing together Member States’ law enforcement authorities and acting as a bridge to widen the possibilities of collaboration with third countries, other agencies, and stakeholders.

The changing threat scenario has shown that large-scale criminal and terrorist networks and lone wolves continue to pose a significant threat to the internal security of the Union, and to the safety and livelihood of European citizens, he pointed out. Criminal groups are becoming increasingly poly-criminal, and are crossing borders in their activities. Security threats are no longer contained by geographical borders, and a number of disturbing incidents have taken place that span across Member States.

This, Minister Abela said, has made it imperative for national law enforcement agencies to cooperate more closely with their counterparts in other Member States. In this context, equipping Europol to better-support Member States in Union-wide crime prevention, analyses and investigations is certainly a significant step forward that will ensure that Member States acting together are more effective than a single Member State working by itself.

“Given that terrorism is one of the most significant threats to the security of the Union, Europol should also be in a position to assist Member States in facing this challenge,” the Minister said.  “Europol is in the best position to act as an information hub, and through the powers conveyed to it through this new Regulation, it will truly come into its own in this area. This, whilst reinforcing the possibilities for data exchange whilst providing safeguards on the protection of privacy and fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.”

The Minister referred to the significance of last Saturday’s signing, in Valletta, of an operational and strategic cooperation agreement between Europol and Denmark. By virtue of this agreement Denmark, whilst not a fully-fledged member of Europol, will be able to share and exchange vital operational data with the agency. Without that agreement, Denmark risked finding itself in a position of not being able to share operational data with Europol, with such lack of co-operation possibly leading to serious intelligence and information gaps, thus putting the EU’s security at risk. 

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