Today (28 April), the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee approved a new EU law which will strengthen Europol in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. Rapporteur Augustín Diaz de Mera MEP expressed deep satisfaction at the result: “After an intense and long negotiating period, we have achieved a Regulation which provides Europol with robust powers to combat terror and organized crime.”
Europol is the European Union agency for law enforcement co-operation which supports and enhances co-operation among national law enforcement authorities across the EU. This Regulation, which is essentially an EU law, will also strengthen the European Parliament’s scrutiny over Europol. It will modernize Europol’s governance and it will frame its mandate, its powers and its cooperation with third countries.
During the three-year-long negotiation period, the EPP group managed to secure two key priorities: the inclusion of the legal basis for the Internet Referral Unit and the possibility for Europol to receive data from private parties.
The Internet Referral Unit is considered by many as a crucial tool in combatting terrorist propaganda and related violent extremist activities on the internet. The European Union Internet Referral Unit at Europol will identify and refer relevant online content towards concerned internet service providers and it will support EU governments in operational and strategic analysis.
Also with this new law, the EU’s judicial cooperation agency (Eurojust) will have access to information stored by Europol.
Last December, EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers agreed with the European Parliament on this law. This means that the law now only needs the final stamp of approval of the whole European Parliament during its next plenary session in Strasbourg. When this happens, the law will enter into force.