From the 1st of January Europol become operational as a full EU Agency

On January 1st the Europol Convention signed in ’98 will be definitely over and the Council Decision 2009/371/JHA adopted on 6 April 2009 will become fully operational.
Following the new legal basis , comparable to the one’s of Eurojust, the Europol mandate could be adapted more rapidly in response to trends in crime and every time that new tasks will be needed or should be modified there be no more need of a five years lasting procedure to ratify amending protocols (as it happened for the ones negotiated in 2000,2202 and 2003).
Moreover, instead of the Member States finances, Europol will from 2010 be financed by the EU budget and its officials and other servants will have the same statute of the ones serving the other EU institutions.
On November 30th the JHA Council adopted the latest implementing decisions needed to make Europol fully operational at the beginning of the new year in its new shape.
A first proposal was focused Europol’s relations with partners, including the exchange of personal data and classified information , the second determined the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements, the third was focused on the rules for Europol analysis work and the fourth on the Europol rules on confidentiality.

Quite surprisingly on Nov 24th the European Parliament which was always supporting a stronger role for Europol, rejected the four proposals, arguing that these rules should not be amended until the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty on December 1st 2009.
If this would had been the case an amendment of the Europol founding Decision would had been necessary to made it compatible with the new Treaty. The European Parliament would had been co-legislator and Europol would had been fully accountable before the Court of Justice and under the scrutiny of the national Parliaments (as foreseen by the art. 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
One of the EP rapporteurs Ms Sophie In’t Veld made it clear during the plenary debate by stating that “…The rush by the Council to adopt a whole series of decisions before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, thus circumventing the equal legislative role of the European Parliament is embarrassing. We support the development of a strong Europol, able to operate and fight against crime, but we also want a Europol that is subject to democratic scrutiny. I have some concerns regarding the transfer of personal data and confidential documents to third parties which cannot be ignored. The Council must now present new proposals on Europol within a maximum of six months – and preferably earlier – under the Lisbon Treaty.”
It is more than likely that these very sensible observations will therefore not be followed by the Council and the Commission as they consider that before adopting further changes it should be tested how the recent 2008 Decision is working.
This situation seems confirming that Europol is always late with the Treaty changes.
Conceived as an evolution of the TREVI group which was informally working since 1975 the establishment of Europol was agreed in the 1992 within the Maastricht Treaty. Therefore Europol commenced its full activities only on 1 July 1999 after the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty. In the following years after the creation by the Nice Treaty of Eurojust the EP proposed to transform Europol in a full European Agency as it has been done only in …2009 during the final phase of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. In the meantime Europol has progressively taken a bolder role with the recent adoption of annual reports on the Organised Crime Threat Assesment (OCTA) as well on the Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT), which aims to describe the situation in the European Union regarding terrorism and to identify trends.
Needless to say that Europol covers all the member states of the European Union and established formal agreements with third countries such as USA, Russia or International Organisations such as Interpol or the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime . (EDC)

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