International police cooperation: MEPs OK deal with United Arab Emirates to fight terrorism and crime
A new agreement establishing police cooperation between Europol and the United Arab Emirates to strengthen the mutual fight against organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious, international crime was passed by Parliament on Tuesday by 490 votes to 159, with 44 abstentions.
"This is absolute crucial at this moment in time. We need to concert our efforts in order to prevent criminals from having access to funds because this is a grave breach of the rights of our citizens", said the rapporteur Alessandra Mussolini (EPP, IT). "This is a strategic agreement, it's not an operational measure and therefore it excludes personal data. As Europol has stressed several times, the United Arab Emirates are becoming a centre of economic and financial crime. It is clear that a more structured cooperation would strengthen the role of Europol in solving concretely investigations whose outcome involves European countries. The cross-border criminal networks can only be dealt with energetic cooperation." she added.
The new agreement allows for strategic cooperation only. This could involve exchange of information such as specialist knowledge, general situation reports, strategic analysis, information on criminal investigation procedures and the provision of advice and support in individual criminal investigations. The strategic agreement does not allow for any exchange of personal data.
Under the current rules, Parliament must only be consulted before the Council establishes police cooperation agreements with third countries. However, in the recently concluded talks on new rules to govern Europol, Parliament's negotiators insisted on inserting a review clause on all such agreements.
This means that all existing international agreements between Europol and third countries will be assessed within five years after the entry into force of the new regulation in order to check that they comply fully with data protection standards and meet EU standards on policing.
Under the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament decides on an equal footing with Council on Europol. Once the new Europol regulation enters into force, Parliament is required to give the green light to new international police agreements.
Now that Parliament has been heard, the Council of Ministers can authorise Europol to formally conclude the agreement, so that it can enter into force.