Strasbourg, 4 May 2022
Europol will be able to pursue research projects and receive data from private parties
The police agency will have a Fundamental Rights Officer
EU Data Protection Supervisor will oversee Europol’s data processing
On Wednesday, the European Parliament plenary gave its final green light to granting new powers to Europol.
With 480 in favour, 143 against, and 20 abstaining, MEPs endorsed the deal reached in February by Parliament and Council negotiators on strengthening the mandate of Europol, the EU’s police agency, which supports police investigations carried out by the member states.
Under the new rules, Europol will be able to pursue research and innovation projects, process large datasets, and help national authorities screen foreign direct investment in security-related cases. When dealing with terrorist content or child sexual abuse material, Europol will be able to receive data from private companies, for example communication services.
New Fundamental Rights Officer and ensuring respect of EU data protection rules
To balance the police agency’s new powers with appropriate supervision, the co-legislators agreed that the agency will create a new post for a Fundamental Rights Officer. In addition, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) will oversee Europol’s personal data processing operations, and work together with the agency’s Data Protection Officer. Citizens will be able to consult personal data related to them by contacting authorities in member states, or Europol directly.
After the vote, rapporteur Javier Zarzalejos (EPP, ES) said: “This Regulation, and the new mandate for Europol, mark a substantial leap forward in the capabilities of the Agency, in its ability to support member states, in its governance framework and, last but certainly not least, in the enhanced system of safeguards we have put in place.”
The legal text now needs to be formally adopted by the Council, before it is published in the EU’s official journal and enters into force.
New deal will strengthen Europol’s governance and accountability
May 4, 2022
Renew Europe welcomes that the plenary today has endorsed the agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on strengthening Europol’s mandate, for instance when it comes to supporting Member States’ investigations, processing personal data, and increasing the agency’s role in innovation.
Thanks to our group’s efforts, Europol will now be able to request initiatives for criminal investigations when it falls within the remits of EU competence. We also managed to secure important fundamental rights aspects, for example the creation of a Fundamental Rights Officer and the establishment of a consultative forum to provide advice on fundamental rights matters.
While Renew Europe fully supports a strengthened mandate for Europol, it recalls the recent admonishment by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and stresses that Europol should act strictly within the limits of the law. With new powers comes the need for tough scrutiny by the European Commission and European Parliament. Particular vigilance is needed with the use of AI and the risk of discrimination.
Dragoș Tudorache, Renew Europe’s negotiator on the report, said:
“After this vote, Europol will be better equipped to protect European citizens in the digital age. We need law enforcement that is competitive in the 21st century and able to leverage cutting-edge technology to fight crime, to catch criminals, to enforce the law, and to keep our societies safe. But with more power comes more responsibility. We have thus worked to strengthen democratic oversight, safeguards, transparency, and accountability in Europol’s mandate so that its activities are guided by and aligned with our European values.”