MEPs give green light to Europol-Brazil deal to fight crime and terrorism
A new cooperation agreement between the European Police Office (Europol) and Brazil to crack down on organised crime and terrorism was backed by Parliament on Tuesday. Europol says that Brazil is increasingly relevant in the fight against organised crime, including illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. It also has an eye on the 2016 Olympic Games, which, like other major sports events, could create opportunities for increased criminal activity.
"The agreement on strategic cooperation between Brazil and Europol will be of particular importance, particularly in the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games, to support the fight against organised crime, including human trafficking and cybercrime", said Civil Liberties Committee Chair and rapporteur on this file, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK).
"This agreement will enable the exchange of specialist knowledge, information as well as advice and support related to criminal investigations, with full respect for fundamental rights to privacy and without involving the exchange of personal data", he added.
Brazil is increasingly relevant in the fight against organised crime, such as facilitated illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings, drug-related crimes and credit card fraud, as well as other cybercrime-related activities, says Europol. It is also of particular interest in the area of counter-terrorism and asset recovery, it adds.
The agreement, approved by 516 votes to 68 with 126 abstentions, provides for the exchange of information, which may include specialist knowledge, general situation reports, results of strategic analysis, information on criminal investigation procedures and crime-prevention methods, participation in training activities, and the provision of advice and support in individual criminal investigations. It does not provide for the exchange of personal data.
Now that Parliament has been consulted, the Council of Ministers can authorise Europol to formally conclude the agreement with Brazil, enabling it to enter into force. The UK, Ireland and Denmark are taking part in approving and applying the deal.
Under current rules, Parliament must be consulted before the Council establishes police cooperation agreements with third countries. However, in recently-concluded talks on new rules to govern Europol, Parliament's negotiators insisted on inserting a review clause in all such agreements.
This means that all existing international agreements between Europol and third countries must be assessed within five years of the new regulation’s entry into force, 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 the rules governing Europol. Once the new Europol regulation enters into force, Parliament will be required to approve all new international police agreements.