Regulation (EU) 2022/991 amending Regulation (EU) 2016/794, as regards Europol’s cooperation with private parties, the processing of personal data by Europol in support of criminal investigations, and Europol’s role in research and innovati
In January 2020, the European Commission published the new work programme for 2020. Under the section ‘Promoting our European way of Life’ the Commission stated its intention to strengthen the Europol mandate in order to reinforce operational police cooperation. In May 2020 the Commission published an Inception Impact Assessment on a prospect proposal to strengthen the mandate of Europol. The assessment was open for comments until the 9 th of July 2020. On 21 October 2020, the Home Affairs Ministers of the European Union met informally to discuss the challenges and the operational needs of the agency. To this end, they adopted a Declaration entitled ‘Ten Points on the Future of Europol’. On 9 December 2020, the Commission finally adopted its proposal to amend Europol’s regulation. According to the proposal, the new regulation will strengthen Europol’s mandate by:
- enabling Europol to cooperate effectively with private parties;
- enabling Europol to support Member States and their investigations with the analysis of large and complex datasets;
- strengthening Europol’s role on research and innovation;
- strengthening Europol’s cooperation with third countries;
- enabling Europol to request the competent authorities of a Member State to initiate, conduct or coordinate an investigation of a crime which affects a common interest covered by a Union policy, without the requirement of a cross-border dimension of the crime concerned;
- strengthening Europol’s cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO);
- further strengthening the data protection framework applicable to Europol;
- further strengthening parliamentary oversight and accountability of Europol;
- enabling Europol to create dedicated alerts in the Schengen Information System (SIS) in consultation with Member States.
In the European Parliament, the file was assigned to the LIBE Committee. The European Parliament appointed Javier Zarzalejos as rapporteur. On 8 March 2021 the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) issued opinion 4/2021 on the proposed amendments to the Europol Regulation. In general, the EDPS underlined the need to better define certain concepts (e.g. the new processing purpose for research and innovation); and to accompany the stronger mandate of Europol with stronger oversight. On 2 June 2021 the Committee on Budgets issued an opinion (Rapporteur for the opinion: Niclas Herbst). The opinion called on the LIBE Committee to take into account certain recommendations. On 8 June 2021 and 10 June 2021 the LIBE Committee tabled its amendments. On 12 October 2021, the LIBE Committee adopted its report and decided to open interinstitutional negotiations. The decision was later approved in plenary on 21 October 2021. The first political trilogue took place on 27 October 2021. On 1 February 2022, after six meetings and two political trilogues, a provisional agreement was reached between the Council and the European Parliament. On 4 May 2022, the drafted regulation was voted by the Parliament at first reading and on 24 May 2022 the Council adopted the text. The Regulation was signed on 8 June 2022 and published in the Official Journal on 27 June 2022. The main differences between the Commission proposal and the adopted Regulation lie in the following points:
- the adopted regulation enables Europol to only propose that Member States enter information alerts in the SIS;
- albeit strengthening Europol’s mandate to cooperate with private parties, it revised some wording in order to make it clear that the direct cooperation between cooperation and private parties remains the exception;
- it fleshes out the text with stricter safeguards of fundamental rights.
Nevertheless, the EDPS still expresses its concerns that the amendments brought to the Europol’s mandate weaken the fundamental right to data protection and do not ensure appropriate oversight of Europol.
Reference number: Regulation (EU) 2022/991
Issue date: 08-06-22
Official Journal: L 169, 27.6.2022, p. 1–42