Police Co-Operation: What are the Main Obstacles to Police Cooperation in the EU?

01-01-2006

Since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union, police co-operation in the European Union has been slowly evolving. Two recent developments have led to calls for further action in the field: the enlargement of the European Union, and the increased emphasis on counter-terrorism after recent attacks. These calls for change have been reflected in the Hague Programme, which calls for new measures in the field. These developments have led to many levels of police co-operation in the EU, including: - Co-operation between national law enforcement authorities, in particular the use of the principle of availability - Co-operation between police and intelligence agencies - Co-operation of national law enforcement agencies with Europol - The development of EU databases (such as SIS II, VIS and Europol) and enhancing access and ‘interoperability’ - Enhanced co-operation within and outside the EU, including initiative such as the Prüm Treaty - Enhanced co-operation with third countries, in particular the US This multi-layered framework of police co-operation raises a number of issues that need to be addressed by the Committee. These include: - the issue of trust between national police authorities, and how this can be enhanced - the challenges that mutual recognition (as expressed by the principle of availability) poses to national legal and constitutional principles if no safeguards are adopted at EU level - data protection, which is challenged by the proliferation of databases and enhanced information exchange – the adoption of the third pillar data protection Framework Decision must be prioritised - democratic scrutiny and accountability of police agencies (in particular Europol) and information flows the role of the European Parliament must be reassessed as a matter of urgency - the external dimension – in the light of the challenges posed to EU fundamental legal principles and values (as witnessed by the PNR debate), there is

Since the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty of the European Union, police co-operation in the European Union has been slowly evolving. Two recent developments have led to calls for further action in the field: the enlargement of the European Union, and the increased emphasis on counter-terrorism after recent attacks. These calls for change have been reflected in the Hague Programme, which calls for new measures in the field. These developments have led to many levels of police co-operation in the EU, including: - Co-operation between national law enforcement authorities, in particular the use of the principle of availability - Co-operation between police and intelligence agencies - Co-operation of national law enforcement agencies with Europol - The development of EU databases (such as SIS II, VIS and Europol) and enhancing access and ‘interoperability’ - Enhanced co-operation within and outside the EU, including initiative such as the Prüm Treaty - Enhanced co-operation with third countries, in particular the US This multi-layered framework of police co-operation raises a number of issues that need to be addressed by the Committee. These include: - the issue of trust between national police authorities, and how this can be enhanced - the challenges that mutual recognition (as expressed by the principle of availability) poses to national legal and constitutional principles if no safeguards are adopted at EU level - data protection, which is challenged by the proliferation of databases and enhanced information exchange – the adoption of the third pillar data protection Framework Decision must be prioritised - democratic scrutiny and accountability of police agencies (in particular Europol) and information flows the role of the European Parliament must be reassessed as a matter of urgency - the external dimension – in the light of the challenges posed to EU fundamental legal principles and values (as witnessed by the PNR debate), there is