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European Police Office - Europol

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European Police Office - Europol

The decision establishes the European Police Office (Europol) as a European Union (EU) agency with responsibility for law-enforcement cooperation between Member States.


Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol).


This decision establishes the European Police Office (Europol) to support and strengthen mutual cooperation between Member States in preventing and combating terrorism and organised crime, including other forms of serious crime. Europol is based in The Hague, the Netherlands, and has legal personality.

Europol has competence in situations where two or more Member States are in need of a common approach to tackle organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious crime. These also include related criminal offences.

Tasks of Europol

The main tasks of Europol are to:

  • collect, store, process, analyse and exchange information;
  • notify Member States of any connections between criminal offences concerning them;
  • assist Member States in investigations and provide intelligence and analytical support;
  • request Member States to initiate, conduct or coordinate investigations in specific cases and suggest the setting up of joint investigation teams;
  • draft threat assessments and other reports.

Based on Decision 2005/511/JHA on protecting the euro against counterfeiting , Europol is also designated as the central office to combat counterfeiting of the euro.

In matters where Europol has competence, its staff may participate in joint investigation teams. However, they may act only in a supportive capacity and may not take any coercive measures. The staff may provide information processed by Europol directly to the members of joint investigation teams.

National units

Each Member State is to designate a national unit to act as the sole liaison body between the competent authorities of its Member State and Europol. Only under conditions determined by the Member State in question may direct contact be permitted. Each national unit is to second at least one liaison officer to Europol, who will make up a national liaison bureau. These officers are to represent the interests of their national units and facilitate information exchanges between these units and Europol.

Information processing systems

Europol may process information and intelligence, including personal data, for the purpose of carrying out its tasks. To this end, a Europol Information System and analysis work files are established. Data entered into the system may concern persons who either have committed or are suspected of planning a criminal offence. It may consist of data relating directly to the person (name, nationality, social security number, etc.) and the offence committed. National units, liaison officers and Europol staff may input and retrieve data directly from the system. The designated competent authorities of Member States may merely search the system to ascertain that the data which they are requesting is available. Analysis work files may be opened by Europol to assemble, process and use data needed to assist in criminal investigations. In addition to the data on persons who have committed or are suspected of committing an offence, the files may contain data on witnesses, victims as well as contacts and associates of the offender.

Personal data

Any personal data retrieved from Europol may only be used by the competent authorities of Member States for the purpose of preventing and combating crimes. Europol may only use personal data to carry out its tasks. A Member State or third country or body may lay down further restrictions to the use of certain types of data it has communicated.

Europol may only hold data in data files for as long as is necessary for the performance of its tasks. Three years after input at the latest, the necessity for storing the data is reviewed. A data protection officer will ensure that personal data is processed lawfully.

Any person has the right to request a check of or access to personal data concerning him/her. In case the data is incorrect, the data subject has the right to request that it be corrected or deleted.

A national supervisory body in each Member State monitors that the input, retrieval and communication of personal data by its Member State is lawful. The joint supervisory body ensures the lawfulness of the storage, processing, use and transmission of personal data by Europol.

Relations with partners

Europol may cooperate with other European Union (EU) or Community institutions, bodies, offices and agencies when carrying out its tasks, in particular with Eurojust, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European External Borders Agency (Frontex), the European Police College (CEPOL), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

As determined by the Council, Europol may also cooperate with third countries and organisations, including the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).


The management board is the decision-making body of Europol. It consists of one representative from each Member State and one representative from the Commission, with each member having one vote. The director, who is the legal representative of Europol, is in charge of the organisation’s daily management. S/he is appointed by the Council for a period of four years, extendable once.

Europol is financed from the general budget of the EU.


Europol was originally established on the basis of the Europol Convention of 1995. In order to simplify the administration of Europol and to reform it when necessary, a proposal was adopted in 2006 to replace the convention by this decision.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2009/371/JHA


1.1.2010 (4.6.2009 for the second subparagraph of Article 57(2) and Articles 59, 60 and 61)

OJ L 121 of 15.5.2009


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol) and repealing Decisions 2009/371/JHA and 2005/681/JHA. [ COM(2013)173 final of 27.3.2013].

The proposal seeks to bring Europol's legal framework in line with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union whereby the co-legislators establish procedures for the scrutiny of Europol’s activities by the European Parliament, together with national Parliaments and, in so doing, enhance the agency's effectiveness, efficiency and accountability.

The proposal aims to:

  • strengthen Europol's role as EU hub for the exchange of criminal information and to boost the agency's analytical capability: the proposal strengthens and clarifies the obligations for Member States to supply data to Europol, and introduces a one-month deadline for Member States to react to a request, by Europol, to initiate a criminal investigation. In addition, a new concept for data management, without pre-defined data bases and systems is geared towards allowing Europol to better identify links between sets of data, thereby building a more accurate picture of criminal realities and trends;
  • ensure a comprehensive, tailor-made and extremely robust data protection regime. The proposal seeks to further reinforce Europol's data protection by including all applicable rules within the proposal; introducing additional safeguards and assigning the role of external supervisor to the European Data Protection Supervisor (instead of the current Joint Supervisory Body (JSB)), in cooperation with national supervisory authorities;
  • change the framework of Europol's relations with partners and, in particular, the circumstances under which Europol can transfer personal data to Union Bodies and third countries. Europol will no longer be able to conclude international agreements with third countries and will, instead, have to rely on a Commission adequacy decision or an EU international agreement in order to be able to send personal data to a law enforcement authority;
  • improve Europol's governance arrangements in line with the content of the Common Approach on decentralized agencies endorsed by the Commission, Parliament and the Council in July 2012;
  • achieve synergies and efficiency gains by merging Europol and the European Police College (Cepol) and entrusting Europol with the new task of training, through the creation of a new department called Europol Academy.

Last updated: 11.02.2014