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Europol Regulation on the prevention of cross-border crime to be updated

Ministry of the Interior
Publication date 25.2.2021 14.18
Press release 23/2021

International internet crime and mobile crime are constantly evolving. Proposed amendments to the Europol Regulation concern, for example, exchange of information between Europol and private operators to ensure that prevention of serious international crime and terrorism meets today’s requirements.

The European Commission has proposed that the legal basis for Europol, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, should be amended in line with today’s requirements for the prevention of international crime and terrorism. The Government has submitted to the Parliament a so-called Union communication that describes the content and effects of the Commission’s proposals as well as Finland's positions on the proposals.

“Criminals are operating more and more online, and mobile crime is constantly evolving. On a changing playing field, it sometimes becomes evident that the laws and regulations do not meet the current requirements. For this reason, it is proposed that part of Europol’s legal basis should be updated”, says Police Director Hannele Taavila from the Ministry of the Interior.

The key objectives of the proposed amendments to the Europol Regulation concern Europol’s cooperation with private parties, the processing of personal data by Europol in support of criminal investigations, and Europol’s role on research and innovation. The aim is to ensure that Europol will be able to better assist the European Union Member States to effectively combat serious and organised crime. The Commission has also adopted another amending proposal concerning Europol’s ability to enter alerts on suspects and convicted criminals to the Schengen Information System (SIS).

“Criminals increasingly use cross-border services offered by private parties to communicate and carry out illegal activities. However, private operators do not currently have a point of contact at Union level where they could report information that might be relevant for criminal investigation”, explains Taavila.

The legislative amendment would enable Europol to act as the contact point and to examine, in a centralised manner, what Member States the crime or the case under investigation concerns. The Government supports development of necessary cooperation between Europol and private parties.

The proposal for a regulation would strengthen Europol’s role in research and innovation

The amendments propose that Europol should play a key role in assisting Member States to develop new technological solutions based on artificial intelligence, which would benefit national law enforcement authorities throughout the EU.

“Searching for innovative solutions is an important part of countering international crime to ensure that crime prevention authorities keep up with the evolving landscape. The Government supports Europol’s proactive role in providing centralised support to Member States in the development of innovations and the law enforcement authorities in the development of their competence and capabilities”, says Taavila.

More detailed legislation also improves data protection

Keeping regulations up to date improves the data protection of individuals. 

“Processing of personal data is already very strictly regulated. These changes aim to effectively ensure, however, that privacy protection and fundamental rights are respected in the processing of different types of data”, says Taavila. 

Data processing is monitored on several levels, and up-to-date and harmonised legislation would allow for more effective examination of issues related to data protection on a consistent basis.

The Commission’s proposal also proposes creation of a new alert category of the Schengen Information System (SIS). This proposal is based on the fact that Europol is not able to provide directly and in real time the Member States’ law enforcement authorities with information sourced from third-countries or international organisations on persons who have been suspected or convicted of criminal and terrorist offences. 

“To address this security gap, it is proposed that a new alert category be created in the system, for exclusive use by Europol in specific and well-defined cases and circumstances”, says Taavila.

The draft legislation has been presented in the Government plenary session on Thursday, 25 February. Next, it will be passed to the Parliament.

Further information:
Hannele Taavila, Police Director, tel. +358 (0)295 488 568, [email protected]