Accept Refuse

EUR-Lex Access to European Union law

This document is an excerpt from the EUR-Lex website

Summaries of EU Legislation

EU agency for law enforcement cooperation — Europol

Go to the summaries’ table of contents

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation

EU agency for law enforcement cooperation — Europol



Council Decision 2009/371/JHA establishing the European Police Office (Europol)


It establishes Europol as the European Union (EU) agency responsible for law enforcement cooperation between EU countries.


  • Europol is based in The Hague, The Netherlands.
  • It has responsibility in situations where EU countries need support to tackle serious cross-border crime, terrorism and other forms of crime which affect the EU’s interests.
  • Europol’s main tasks are to:
    • collect, store, process, analyse and exchange information;
    • notify EU countries of any connections between criminal offences concerning them;
    • assist EU countries in investigations and provide intelligence and analytical support;
    • coordinate, organise and implement investigations and operations to support or reinforce the actions of EU countries’ law enforcement authorities;
    • request EU countries to initiate, conduct or coordinate investigations in specific cases and suggest the setting up of joint investigation teams;
    • support EU countries in preventing and combating forms of crime which are facilitated, promoted or committed using the internet;
    • draft threat assessments and other reports.
  • It also acts as the central office to combat counterfeiting of the euro on the basis of Council Decision 2005/511/JHA.
  • In matters where Europol has responsibility, its staff may participate in joint investigation teams. However, they may act only in a supportive capacity and may not take part in any coercive measures.
  • Liaison between Europol and the competent authority of an EU country is made through a designated national unit. However, subject to conditions determined by the EU country in question, EU countries may allow direct contact with their national authorities.
  • 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 have been established. National units, liaison officers and Europol staff may input and retrieve data directly from the system. The designated competent authorities of EU countries may merely search the system to ascertain that the data which they are requesting is available.
  • Europol may cooperate with other EU bodies when carrying out its tasks, in particular with Eurojust and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
  • Europol may also cooperate with non-EU countries and organisations, including the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).


  • It has applied since 1 January 2010.


  • Europol was originally established on the basis of the Europol Convention of 1995, which was replaced by Council Decision 2009/371/JHA. In turn, this decision will be repealed and replaced by the Europol Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/794) from 1 May 2017. The Europol regulation aligns Europol with the requirements of the Treaty of Lisbon and increases its accountability as, among other things, it provides for the scrutiny over Europol activities by the European Parliament together with national parliaments.
  • It will also make Europol a genuine criminal information hub for law enforcement authorities in the EU, while guaranteeing even stronger data protection safeguards. The new data processing rules will allow Europol to quickly identify trends and patterns across all criminal areas and build more comprehensive and relevant intelligence reports to support EU countries’ law enforcement authorities.
  • For more information, see:


Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol) (OJ L 121, 15.5.2009, pp. 37-66)


Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and replacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA (OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, pp. 53-114)

last update 14.11.2016