EU: Council's plans for Europol: mass processing of personal data, simplified cooperation with non-EU states, artificial intelligence


Member states' home affairs ministers met recently to discuss the future of Europol and adopted a ten-point document on the policing agency's role and activities. The document sets out the member states' priorities for the future of Europol - the ability to process more data, simplified cooperation with non-EU states, and more engagement with new technologies such as AI - and has now been formalised into a Council Resolution. The Commission is due to publish a new legal proposal for the agency soon, despite the current legal basis only having come into force in 2017.

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The initial document was agreed during a "packed evening snack" hosted by the German Presidency in October, following which a declaration was published (Ten points on the future of Europol, pdf). The text was then handed over to the Council's internal security committee (COSI), which in turn submitted it to COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the member states) for formal approval, which was granted on 9 November 2020 (link to pdf).

The Council's key demands reflect those mentioned in earlier documents (see further reading, below) and align with the proposals made by Europol itself on amendments to its legal basis.

See: Draft Council Resolution on the Future of Europol (as approved, 12463/20, LIMITE, 30 October 2020, pdf)

The key points (all emphasis added):

"There is no ambition to expand Europol’s representation on the ground (within the EU or outside it)."

"...Europol supports the national law enforcement authorities of the Member States, which retain exclusive executive power including the initiation and conducting of investigations. The diverse organisational structures of national law enforcement authorities remain unaffected."

"Europol works together with other established actors in the European and global security architecture, as a partner, not a competitor, and based on a division of tasks. Europol does not have the mandate or resources to undertake international capacity building."

"Steering the agency by joint representation of the Member States has been a success; the close involvement of the European Commission, with the right to vote in the Management Board, has also proved a success. "

"The main focus in further developing Europol must be on strengthening its core tasks, which are to fulfil its role as the EU criminal information hub, to help with analysis, and to provide operational support."

"Europol must be capable of harnessing the potential of technological innovation – for the benefit of national law enforcement authorities and for that of its own. This includes the development and use of artificial intelligence for analysis and operational support. For this purpose, the EU Innovation Hub for Internal Security, located at Europol, must immediately begin its work and make technologies such as artificial intelligence and encryption a priority."

"The legal framework must ensure that Europol is able to fulfil its tasks in the best possible way. Europol must be – and remain – capable of working effectively in the virtual world and of processing large amounts of data."

"...Europol must... be enabled to cooperate effectively with private parties, in accordance with the needs of the Member States and respecting their national legislation."

"...if Europol is to properly fulfil its role as EU criminal information hub, more effective mechanisms must be put in place through which it can exchange information with other third countries."

"Europol must be provided with appropriate, future-oriented resources in terms of funding and personnel. New tasks must come with adequate resources and should not be at the expense of existing tasks."

Further reading

18 November 2020

EU: Police seeking new technologies as Europol's "Innovation Lab" takes shape

29 October 2020

EU: Study demands new ways for Europol to access personal data from private parties

19 October 2020

EU: Wiretapping: New high-level police working group to formulate "a joint response to the impending massive impacts of 5G"

08 October 2020

Europol unlawfully processing personal data of vast numbers of innocent people, says report

29 September 2020

EU: Head of Europol supervisory group wants to create a "European FBI"

04 August 2020

EU: New Europol Regulation: what the agency wants, the agency gets?

09 July 2020

Europol: plans afoot to legalise unlawful acts

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