Seat The Hague, Netherlands
Legal authority Treaty on EU Title VI
The Europol Convention
Established 1 July 1999
Director Rob Wainwright (UK)
Europol (portmanteau of European Police Office) is the European Union's criminal intelligence
agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999.
The establishment of Europol was agreed to in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, officially known as
the Treaty on European Union (TEU) that came into effect in November 1993. The agency
started limited operations on 3 January 1994, as the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). In 1998 the
Europol Convention was ratified by all the member states and came into force in October.
Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999.
Europol allocates its resources (625 staff, of these, approximately 120 Europol liaison officers
(ELOs)) from its headquarters in The Hague. The size of Europol belies the fact that they are in
constant liaison with hundreds of different law enforcement organisations, each with their own
individual or group seconded to assist Europol's activities.
As of 2007, Europol covers all 27 member states of the European Union. In order to fight
international organised crime effectively, Europol cooperates with a number of third countries
and organisations as follows (in alphabetical order): Albania, Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Canada, CEPOL (European Police College), Colombia, Croatia, Eurojust, European Central
Bank, European Commission, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction,
Republic of Macedonia, Frontex, Iceland, Interpol, Moldova, Norway, OLAF (European Anti-
Fraud Office), Russian Federation, Switzerland, SitCen (EU Joint Situation Centre), Turkey,
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, USA, World Customs Organisation. This is done on
the basis of cooperation agreements concluded in accordance with the Europol Convention. The
Europol External Strategy defines the framework within which Europol is to develop its
activities with regard to third partners.
It has been decided that Europol will be converted to a full EU agency on 1 January 2010, thus
simplifying the procedure to reform it; until then, reforms have to be made through an
amendment to the Europol Convention.
Europol's aim is to improve the effectiveness and co-operation between the competent authorities
of the member states primarily by sharing and pooling intelligence to prevent and combat serious
international organized crime. Its mission is to make a significant contribution to the European
Union's law enforcement efforts targeting organized crime.
Europol has no executive powers. It is a support service for the law enforcement agencies of the
EU member states. This means that Europol officials are not entitled to conduct investigations in
the member states or to arrest suspects. In providing support, Europol with its tools – information
exchange, intelligence analysis, expertise and training – can contribute to the executive measures
carried out by the relevant national authorities.
Europol is a multi-disciplinary agency, comprising not only regular police officers but staff
members from the member states' various law enforcement agencies: customs, immigration
services, border and financial police, etc. Secondly, Europol helps to overcome the language
barriers in international police co-operation. Any law enforcement officer from a member state
can address a request to their Europol National Unit (ENU) in her/his mother tongue and receive
the answer back in this language.
Three different levels of co-operation are possible: The first one is technical co-operation or to
provide training. The next step is strategic co-operation aimed at exchanging general trends in
organised crime and how to fight it and the exchange of threat assessments. The top level of co-
operation includes the exchange of personal data and requires the fulfilment of Europol's
standards in the field of data protection and data security.
Europol has it origins in TREVI, a forum for internal security cooperation amongst EEC/EC
interior and justice ministers created in 1975 and active until the Maastricht Treaty came into
effect in 1993.
Germany, with its federal organisation of police forces, had long been in favour of a
supranational police organisation at EC level. It tabled a surprise proposal to establish a
European Police Office to the European Council meeting in Luxembourg in June 1991. By that
December, the Intergovernmental Conference was coming to an end and the member states had
pledged themselves to establishing Europol through Article K.1(9) of the Maastricht Treaty.
Europol was given the modest role of establishing ‘a Union-wide system for exchanging
information’ amongst EU police forces.
Delays in ratifying the Maastricht Treaty led to TREVI ministers agreeing a "Ministerial
Agreement on the Europol Drugs Unit" in June 1993. This intergovernmental agreement, outside
of EU law, led to the establishment of a small team headed by Jürgen Storbeck, a senior German
police officer who initially operated from some temporary cabins in a Strasbourg suburb (shared
with personnel of the Schengen Information System) while more permanent arrangements were
Once the Maastricht Treaty had come into effect, the slow process of negotiating and ratifying a
Europol Convention began. In the meantime, the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) had its powers
extended twice, in March 1995 and again in December 1996 to included a range of trafficking
offences in its remit. During this period, information amongst officers could only be exchanged
bilaterally, with a central database to be established once the Europol Convention was ratified.
The Europol Convention finally came into effect in October 1998 after ratification by all 15 EU
national parliaments though some outstanding legal issues (primarily data protection supervision
and judicial supervision) ensured it could not formally take up duties until July 1999.
The Directorate of Europol is appointed by the Council of the European Union (Ministers for
Justice and Home Affairs). It currently consists of Director Rob Wainwright (UK) and Deputy
Directors Mariano Simancas (Spain), Michel Quillé (France) and Eugenio Orlandi (Italy).
Europol is politically accountable to the Justice and Home Affairs Council via the Europol
Management Board. The Council controls the appointment of Europol's Director and Deputy
Directors. It also controls Europol's budget, financed from member state contributions, rather
than the EU budget and any legislative instruments it deems necessary for Europol. The Europol
Management Board is staffed with Interior Ministry officials with one representative from every
participating member state. It meets at least twice per year and exercises political control over
more routine staffing and budetary matters, amongst other things. The Joint Supervisory Body
oversees data protection in Europol and has two representatives from each participating state's
data protection supervisory body.
Financial supervision over Europol is aided by a committee of auditors drawn from the
membership of the European Court of Auditors and known as the Joint Audit Committee. The
Joint Audit Committee is not technically part of the European Court of Auditors as the Europol
budget is not part of the overall EU budget. This unusual arrangement preserves the
intergovernmental character of Europol.
The European Court of Justice has minimal jurisdiction over Europol with its remit extending
only to limited interpretation of the Europol Convention.
The European Ombudsman, while not given a formal role in the Europol Convention, seems to
have gained de facto recognition as an arbitrator in Europol matters relating to requests for
access to documents and Europol staff disputes.
Europol is formally unaccountable for its actions to the European Parliament, as well as to MPs
from EU member countries. However, the Management Board of Europol is legally required to
submit an annual report to the Council of the European Union, which is then submitted to the
European Parliament. Confidentiality of materials produced by and information held by
Europol as well as discretion and confidentiality obligations on the staff employed by Europol
are governed by the appropriate provisions of the convention.
Europol is the law enforcement agency of the European Union. Our aim is to help achieve a safer
Europe by supporting the law enforcement agencies of European Union member states in their
fight against international serious crime and terrorism.
More than 620 staff at Europol headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands work closely with
law enforcement agencies in the 27 European Union member states and in other non-EU partner
states such as Australia, Canada, the USA and Norway.
As Europol officers have no direct powers of arrest, we support law enforcement colleagues by
gathering, analysing and disseminating information and coordinating operations. Our partners
use the input to prevent, detect and investigate offences, and to track down and prosecute those
who commit them. Europol experts and analysts take part in Joint Investigation Teams which
help solve criminal cases on the spot in EU countries.
Europol personnel come from different kinds of law enforcement agencies, including regular
police, border police, customs and security services. This multi-agency approach helps to close
information gaps and minimise the space in which criminals can operate.
Some 130 Europol Liaison Officers are based at Europol headquarters. These ELOs are seconded
to Europol by the EU member states and our non-EU partners. They guarantee fast and effective
cooperation based on personal contact and mutual trust.
From our position at the heart of the European security architecture means we offer a unique
range of services. Europol is a support centre for law enforcement operations, a hub for criminal
information, and a centre for law enforcement expertise.
Analysis is at the core of our activities. Europol employs more than 100 criminal analysts who
are among the best trained in Europe. This gives Europol one of the largest concentrations of
analytical capability in the EU. Our analysts use state-of-the-art tools which support member
states’ investigations on a daily basis.
To give our partners a deeper insight into the criminal problems they are dealing with, Europol
produces regular assessments which offer comprehensive and forward-looking analyses of crime
and terrorism in the European Union. The European Organised Crime Threat Assessment
(OCTA) identifies and assesses emerging threats. The OCTA describes the structure of organised
crime groups and the way they operate, and the main types of crime affecting the European
Union. The EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), published annually, gives a
detailed account of the state of terrorism in the EU.
Europol is a high-security operational centre. We deal with more than 9,000 cases a year, turning
high-quality analysis into operational successes. This flexible service centre operates non-stop:
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Europol serves as an EU centre of expertise, providing a central platform for law enforcement
experts from the European Union countries.
Europol officers are always ready to travel at short notice and provide support with our mobile
office. Our presence is also in demand in the fight against illicit drugs and we have a fully
operational team to help dismantle synthetic drugs laboratories on-the-spot.
International crime and terrorist groups operate worldwide and make use of the latest technology.
To ensure an effective and coordinated response, Europol needs to be equally flexible and
innovative, and make sure its methods and tools are up to date. We have state-of-the-art
databases and communication channels, offering fast and secure capabilities for storing,
searching, visualising and linking information.
Gathering, analysing and disseminating this information entails the exchange of large quantities
of personal data. Europol sets and adheres to the highest standards of data protection and data
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Since Europol can offer a flexible response, we focus on different areas of criminal and terrorist
activity from year to year, depending on the demands of the situation. Our main priorities,
however, tend to remain relatively stable, reflecting those of international criminal and terrorist
groups. Over the years we have built up substantial experience in fighting drug trafficking, illicit
immigration networks and trafficking in human beings, illicit vehicle trafficking, cyber crime,
money laundering and forgery of money. Europol is the European central office to combat euro
Europol’s main goal is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizen
International Criminal Police Organization –
Common name Interpol
Logo of the International Criminal Police Organization –
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Countries 188 member states
Governing body Interpol General Assembly
Constituting ICPO-INTERPOL Constitution and
instrument General Regulations
General nature Civilian agency
200, quai Charles de Gaulle, Lyon,
Khoo Boon Hui, President
Ronald Noble, Secretary
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization –
INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation. It was established
as the International Criminal Police Commission in 1923 and adopted its telegraphic address
as its common name in 1956.
Its membership of 188 countries provides finance of around $59 million through annual
contributions. The organization's headquarters are in Lyon, France. It is the second largest
intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.
Its current Secretary-General is Ronald Noble, formerly of the United States Treasury. Jackie
Selebi, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, was president from 2004 but
resigned on 13 January 2008, later being charged in South Africa on three counts of corruption
and one of defeating the course of justice. He was replaced by Arturo Herrera Verdugo, current
National Commissioner of Policía de Investigaciones de Chile and former vice president for the
American Zone, who remained acting president until the organization meeting in October
2008, and was subsequently replaced by Commissioner of Police Singapore Police Force,
Khoo Boon Hui.
In order to maintain as politically neutral a role as possible, Interpol's constitution forbids its
involvement in crimes that do not overlap several member countries, or in any political,
military, religious, or racial crimes. Its work focuses primarily on public safety, terrorism,
organized crime, crimes against humanity, environmental crime, genocide, war crimes, piracy,
illicit drug production, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human trafficking, money
laundering, child pornography, white-collar crime, computer crime, intellectual property crime
In 2008, the Interpol General Secretariat employed a staff of 588, representing 84 member
countries. The Interpol public website received an average of 2.2 million page visits every
month. Interpol issued 3,126 red notices for the year 2008 which led to the arrest of 718
Interpol was founded in Austria in 1923 as the International Criminal Police (ICP). Following
the Anschluss (Austria's annexation by Nazi Germany) in 1938, the organization fell under the
control of Nazi Germany and the Commission's headquarters were eventually moved to Berlin in
1942. It is unclear, however, if and to what extent the ICPC files were used to further the goals of
the Nazi regime. However, from 1938 to 1945, the presidents of Interpol included Otto
Steinhäusl (a general in the SS), Reinhard Heydrich (a general in the SS, and chair of the
Wannsee Conference that appointed Heydrich the chief executor of the "Final solution to the
Jewish question"), Arthur Nebe (a general in the SS, and Einsatzgruppen leader, under whose
command at least 46,000 people were killed), and Ernst Kaltenbrunner (a general in the SS, the
highest ranking SS officer executed after the Nuremberg Trial).
After the end of World War II in 1945, the organization was revived as the International
Criminal Police Organization by European Allies of World War II officials from Belgium,
France, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Its new headquarters were established in Saint-
Cloud, a town on the outskirts of Paris. They remained there until 1989, when they were moved
to their present location, Lyon.
Interpol differs from most law-enforcement agencies -- agents do not make arrests themselves,
and there is no single Interpol jail where criminals are taken. The agency functions as an
administrative liaison between the law-enforcement agencies of the member countries, providing
communications and database assistance. This is vital when fighting international crime because
language, cultural and bureaucratic differences can make it difficult for officers of different
nations to work together. For example, if FBI officers track a terrorist to Italy, they may not
know who to contact in the Polizia di Stato, if the Polizia Municipale has jurisdiction over some
aspect of the case, or who in the Italian government needs to be notified of the FBI's
involvement. The FBI can contact the Interpol National Central Bureau in Italy, which will act as
a liaison between the United States and Italian law-enforcement agencies.
Interpol's databases help law enforcement see the big picture of international crime. While other
agencies have their own extensive crime databases, the information rarely extends beyond one
nation's borders. Interpol can track criminals and crime trends around the world. They maintain
collections of fingerprints and mug shots, lists of wanted persons, DNA samples and travel
documents. Their lost and stolen travel document database alone contains more than 12 million
records. They also analyze all this data and release information on crime trends to the member
A secure worldwide communications network allows Interpol agents and member countries to
contact each other at any time. Known as I-24/7, the network offers constant access to Interpol's
databases. While the National Central Bureaus are the primary access sites to the network, some
member countries have expanded it to key areas such as airports and border access points.
Member countries can also access each other's criminal databases via the I-24/7 system.
In the event of an international disaster, terrorist attack or assassination, Interpol can send an
incident response team. This team can offer a range of expertise and database access to assist
with victim identification, suspect identification and the dissemination of information to other
nations' law enforcement agencies. In addition, at the request of local authorities, they can act as
a central command and logistics operation to coordinate other law enforcement agencies
involved in a case. Such teams were deployed 12 times in 2005.
INTERPOL’s four core functions
INTERPOL’s activities are guided by the following four core functions:
Secure global police communication Operational data services and databases
services for police
INTERPOL’s global police communications Member countries have direct and
system, known as I-24/7, enables police in immediate access to a wide range of
all member countries to request, submit and databases including information on known
access vital data instantly in a secure criminals, fingerprints, DNA profiles and
environment. stolen or lost travel documents. INTERPOL
also disseminates critical crime-related data
through a system of international notices.
Read more... Read more...
Operational police support services Police training and development
INTERPOL provides law enforcement INTERPOL provides focused police training
officials in the field with emergency support initiatives with the aim of enhancing the
and operational activities, especially in its capacity of member countries to effectively
priority crime areas. A Command and Co- combat transnational crime and terrorism.
ordination Centre operates 24 hours a day, This includes sharing knowledge, skills and
seven days a week and can deploy an best practices in policing and establishing
Incident Response Team to the scene of a global standards.
serious crime or disaster.