A spate of terrorist attacks in Europe and the growing threat posed by cybercrime have led to a deepening sense of insecurity and a heightened awareness of the transnational nature of much serious crime. Europol is at the forefront of the EU’s response to international crime. It provides analytical and operational support to national law enforcement authorities in all 28 EU Member States, enhancing their capacity to tackle security threats which have a cross-border dimension. Europol’s staff work alongside liaison officers seconded to its headquarters in The Hague by EU Member States and other partner countries or organisations in order to facilitate the rapid exchange of criminal intelligence, strategic and operational information. Europol uses its intelligence-gathering and analytical capabilities to support more than 40,000 international criminal investigations each year, identify and assess emerging security threats, and develop and disseminate expertise on law enforcement. The House had the opportunity to debate on the previous Government’s decision not to opt into the Commission’s proposal for a new Europol Regulation in 2013. There can be no doubt that the Government’s recommendation to opt into the Regulation now that is been adopted will attract “particularly strong parliamentary interest” and, potentially, have a “substantial impact” on the UK’s national security. We recommend that the debate should explore the Government’s reasons for seeking to opt into the Regulation now, when it was unwilling to do so three years ago. In particular: Do the provisions of the Regulation on data sharing and the initiation of criminal investigations include sufficient safeguards to ensure the operational independence of the UK’s police forces? Has the Government’s earlier concern that bringing the Europol Regulation within the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice might have implications for the independence of the police and the setting of operational priorities been
adequately addressed? What views have UK law enforcement authorities expressed on the Government’s opt-in recommendation?
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