Brussel, 27 June 2022
EU agencies need access to Interpol databases to fight crime and terrorism
Reforms needed to fight politically-motivated alerts
Strong transparency and data protection provisions for future cooperation with Interpol
On Monday, Civil Liberties committee MEPs adopted recommendations for an EU-Interpol cooperation agreement, which is currently in the negotiation stage.
In a report adopted with 50 votes in favour, 1 against, and 2 abstentions, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs outlined its position on a new co-operation agreement between the EU and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).
MEPs would like to see the agreement grant relevant EU agencies – Europol (the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation), EPPO (the European Public Prosecutor’s Office), Eurojust (the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation) and Frontex (the European Border and Coast Guard Agency) – access to Interpol’s databases.
As part of the agreement, MEPs ask for guarantees that European data protection rules are respected when transferring data between the EU and Interpol. The new agreement should clearly spell out the purposes for which data can be transferred and block the retention of data for longer than what is necessary for these purposes. Also, it should ensure that personal data cannot be transferred if it would be used in connection with death penalties or inhumane treatment. In the event of a data breach, MEPs would like to see clear procedures and minimum transparency requirements.
Concern over red notices
MEPs note that Interpol’s Red Notices, which are requests to arrest a person in another country, have been used in politically-motivated ways, and Interpol’s current processing of Red Notices is not transparent enough. To improve this, MEPs would like to see annual publishing of data on these notices broken down by country. The data could then be used to create risk profiles for abusive notices and their diffusion. As authoritarian regimes may try to abuse the Interpol tools, the Commission should establish an EU verification mechanism to exchange information about abusive notices and remove them where necessary, argue the MEPs.
Questions over the role of Russia
MEPs note that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a direct threat to international law enforcement cooperation, and Russia’s continued access to Interpol data is endangering EU cooperation with the police organisation. Therefore, MEPs support removing access rights to Interpol data from Russia and Belarus, and eventually suspend them from Interpol altogether. Russia is a major issuer of Red Notices, and the European Parliament has previously condemned its use of arrest warrants to pursue Lithuanian judges in connection with the country’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Currently, only EU member states have access to Interpol’s 19 databases, whereas EU agencies have no way of exchanging this information. In July 2021, the Council authorised negotiations for a new co-operation agreement between the EU and Interpol.
After the vote, rapporteur Jadwiga WIŚNIEWSKA (ECR, PL) said: “Interpol is the EU’s key partner in countering terrorism and fighting organised crime. However, EU-Interpol collaboration could be further tightened and formalised. My report establishes guidelines for negotiations on a co-operation agreement, and our key priorities are granting EU agencies direct controlled access to Interpol’s databases and tackling the misuse of Interpol’s red notices and arrest warrants. Also, given the geopolitical situation, I believe strongly that Russia should be excluded from Interpol following its unjustified aggression towards Ukraine.”
Next, the full house of the European Parliament will vote on the report. It is currently scheduled for a vote during the July part-session.