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 innovation
On January 2020, the European Commission published the new work programme for 2020. Under the section ‘Promoting our European way of Life’ the European Commission stated its intention to strengthen the Europol mandate in order to reinforce operational police cooperation. Following this, on May 2020 the Commission published an Inception Impact Assessment on a prospect proposal for the regulation to strengthen the mandate of Europol. The assessment was open for comments until 9 July 2020. According to the European Commission, the initiative aims to revise the mandate of Europol and it will inter alia:
- enable Europol to deal with the evolving nature of internet-based and financial crime;
- align Europol’s procedures for cooperating with non-EU countries with those of other EU agencies; and
- bring Europol’s data protection rules in line with existing EU rules.
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’. The new proposal for a regulation was presented on 9 December 2020. According to the proposal, the new regulation will strengthen Europol by:
- enabling Europol to cooperate effectively with private parties, addressing lack of effective cooperation between private parties and law enforcement authorities to counter the use of cross-border services, such as communication, banking, or transport services, by criminals;
- enabling Europol to effectively support Member States and their investigations with the analysis of large and complex datasets, addressing the big data challenge for law enforcement authorities;
- strengthening Europol’s role on research and innovation, addressing gaps relevant for law enforcement;
- strengthening Europol’s cooperation with third countries in specific situations and on a case-by-case basis for preventing and countering crimes falling within the scope of Europol’s objectives;
- clarifying that Europol may request, in specific cases where Europol considers that a criminal investigation should be initiated, 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.
The proposal also states that this initiative is linked with the proposal amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1862 on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters to enable Europol to enter data into the SIS. In the European Parliament, the file is assigned to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE). 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 underlines the need to better define certain concepts (e.g. the new processing purpose for research and innovation), and that a stronger mandate for Europol should be accompanied with stronger oversight. On 2 June 2021 the Committee on Budgets issued an opinion (Rapporteur for the opinion: Niclas HERBST). The opinion calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) to take into account certain amendments. On 8 June 2021 and 10 June 2021 the LIBE Committee tabled its amendments. In the end of June, COREPER granted a Council negotiating mandate and the Council is now in a position to enter into negotiations on the draft regulation with the European Parliament. 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. The European Parliament adopted its position at first reading on 4 May 2022. The position reflected the agreement reached between the institutions. The act was adopted by Council on 24 May 2022. The Regulation was published in the Official Journal on 27 June 2022.
Reference number: Regulation (EU) 2022/991
Issue date: 08-06-22
Official Journal: L 169, 27.6.2022, p. 1–42