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With Europol’s Stronger Mandate, A Stronger Oversight Is Coming – Terrorism, Homeland Security & Defence

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The European Union has recently adopted a new amended
Europol Regulation. Europol is the law enforcement agency of the
European Union. Its main objective is to contribute to the
strengthening of security in Europe for the benefit of all EU
citizens. These efforts become particularly relevant, in light of
the growth of criminal and terrorist organizations, which pose a
significant threat to the EU’s internal
security.

With its platforms, databases and analytical services, Europol
connects law enforcement authorities throughout the EU and beyond
to tackle serious and organised crime and terrorism. Recently, new
intelligence analysis on the organised crime landscape has shown
that crime is more fluid and flexible than previously thought and
that the use of violence is increasing, along with the use of
corruption and the abuse of legitimate business structures.
Therefore, drastic action and significant measures in the various
sectors, in order to minimize this issue are deemed necessary.

On 28 June 2022, the main amendments to the aforementioned
Europol Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/794) entered into force,
introducing a significant number of changes to this legal act.
Following the European Commission’s proposal, the European
Parliament and the Council agreed to strengthen Europol’s
capacity to provide better support to EU Member States in the fight
against serious and organised crime and terrorism.

The amendments to this Europol Regulation bring about, in
particular, changes in the areas of Support for Criminal
Investigation, Research and Innovation, in the area of cooperation
with private parties the Schengen Information System (SIS),
Own-Initiative Investigations, the Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO)
and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

In addition, in accordance with Article 88 of the Treaty on the
Functioning of the European Union, Europol’s activities are
always reviewed and controlled. Consequently, any regulatory
amendments will be subject to strong safeguards regarding the
protection of fundamental rights, including the right to privacy.
To this end, the amendments to the Europol Regulation will
introduce an independent Fundamental Rights Officer (FRO), in
addition to the independent Data Protection Officer (DPO) already
existing in Europol.

At the same time, the amendment of this Regulation will also
strengthen the Joint Parliamentary Security Group, which
politically monitors Europol’s activities in the execution of
this mandate.

The impact of serious and organised crime on the daily lives of
European citizens, on the economies of Member States and on the
resilience of State institutions is enormous. Therefore, I believe
that this kind of amended Regulation will significantly improve the
effectiveness of Europol’s support to the law enforcement
authorities of the European Union in the fight against serious
organised crime and terrorism.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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