Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Ninth Report


CHAPTER 10: SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Objectives and structure

OBJECTIVES AND COMPETENCE

264.  We believe that where Europol is likely to have information or intelligence which will facilitate the investigation and detection of crimes, those are crimes which should fall within Europol's mandate. (paragraph 40)

265.  In our view it is therefore right that Article 4 of the Europol Decision will not limit the mandate of Europol to "organised crime". As drafted, in our view it gives as good a definition of the crimes which should fall within its competence as is likely to be achievable. (paragraph 41)

NATIONAL UNITS AND LIAISON OFFICERS

266.  While we accept that SOCA is best placed to act as the United Kingdom national unit, the fact that it has no counter-terrorism remit makes it all the more important that it should work very closely with the Metropolitan Police and other forces which do have such a remit. (paragraph 46)

BYPASSING EUROPOL

267.  We agree with the Friends of the Presidency Group that it is highly desirable that bilateral exchanges of information should be recorded on Europol secure databases. The Management Board should give this serious and urgent consideration. (paragraph 57)

268.  There is a lot to be said for building up bilateral and multilateral contacts between national liaison officers. It is the first and most important step in the development of trust between them. (paragraph 62)

269.  However, for Member States to share information in a limited way through liaison officers is the antithesis of the purpose of Europol, which is the enhancement of the already existing combined effort of the Member States' competent authorities so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Limited sharing of information will not achieve a common approach to cross-border cooperation against serious crimes. (paragraph 63)

270.  The Home Office tell us that the United Kingdom is prepared to take a lead in improving the amount of material shared with Europol. We look forward to hearing in the Government's response to this report precisely what steps they intend to take to bring this about. (paragraph 64)

Working methods

INTELLIGENCE-LED POLICING

271.  We believe that Europol is uniquely well placed to establish among the police forces of the Member States a common understanding of intelligence-led policing. Europol should work with the Heads of National Units and the European Police College to organise training which will encourage the adoption and use of intelligence-led policing as the common working method. (paragraph 76)

THE ORGANISED CRIME THREAT ASSESSMENT

272.  We congratulate the Government and officials on their work in exporting to other Member States and to Europol the concept of the Organised Crime Threat Assessment. The continued development of the OCTA should be pursued. (paragraph 81)

273.  When associated with an intelligence-led approach to policing the OCTA should improve the liaison arrangements between prosecuting and investigating officials required by Article 30(2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union, and lead to better coordination of internal security, improved information exchange, and more accurate communication. We encourage the Government to persevere in their attempts to embed these concepts in the policing culture of all Member States. (paragraph 82)

INFORMATION EXCHANGE AND ANALYSIS

274.  We continue to doubt whether all Member States have the necessary commitment to the exchange of information which is Europol's core function. (paragraph 88)

275.  Information capture is an important part of Europol's functions, and the Government should ensure that automatic data loading from SOCA to the Europol Information System is implemented as a matter of urgency. (paragraph 94)

276.  We agree with the Friends of the Presidency Group that the Director should put in place a mechanism which can automatically check the information in the different Europol systems for cross-references, and where possible notify the owners of the data. If further resources are needed, they should be made available. (paragraph 98)

JOINT INVESTIGATION TEAMS

277.  The role of Europol in relation to joint investigation teams should be to facilitate, support and coordinate investigations, but not directly to initiate them. (paragraph 112)

COUNTER-TERRORISM

278.  The Government must make sure that United Kingdom agencies comply with the 2005 Council Decision on the supply to Europol of information relating to terrorism investigations, subject always to the qualification protecting essential national security interests. We recommend that the Government should persuade other Member States to do likewise. (paragraph 117)

279.  Member States should consider amending the 2005 Council Decision to delete the requirement that at least two Member States must be involved in a terrorist act for the Decision to apply. (paragraph 118)

280.  We believe the Government should treat with caution any proposal that direct exchanges of intelligence between the security services of the United Kingdom and those of other Member States should take place through Europol. (paragraph 123)

Governance and accountability

THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE MANAGEMENT BOARD

281.  There is no conceivable logical connection between the nationality of the person best qualified to be Chairman of the Management Board and the identity of the Member States holding the troika Presidency; there is no reason why the other members of the Management Board should be excluded from the selection of their Chairman; and the length of three Presidencies should be irrelevant to the term of office. (paragraph 134)

282.  We recommend that the Decision should be amended before its entry into force to adopt for Europol a system identical to that of Frontex: a Chairman of the Management Board elected by and from among his colleagues for a term of two years, renewable once. (paragraph 136)

283.  We further recommend that the dates of appointment of the Chairman and Director should be such as to give several months of overlap between their respective terms of office. (paragraph 137)

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MANAGEMENT BOARD AND THE DIRECTOR

284.  It should be made clear in the text of the Decision that the Management Board is responsible for the strategic direction of Europol, and the Director for its performance and administration. (paragraph 147)

285.  It should also be made clear that the provision that the Board should "oversee the Director's performance" means no more than that he is accountable to the Board for the performance of his duties. (paragraph 148)

286.  However the Management Board will not be inclined to leave the Director free to run the organisation unless they feel they can trust him to do so efficiently and effectively. (paragraph 149)

287.  In the end, good governance of Europol depends on having the right personalities as Director and Chairman of the Management Board. We do not believe it will be possible for them to develop a relationship of mutual respect and trust unless our recommendations on the chairmanship are adopted. (paragraph 150)

288.  The Chairman of the Management Board needs a supportive Secretariat whose staff must be allowed a sufficient degree of independence to carry out their task. If the Secretariat needs to be larger than at present, it should be enlarged. (paragraph 151)

FOUR-YEARLY REVIEWS

289.  If a full and independent evaluation of the work of Europol is to take place only every four years, the Decision should give guidance as to how the evaluation is to be carried out, and what is to be its outcome. We would like to see the Decision amended in line with the Frontex Regulation. (paragraph 165)

290.  Whether or not the Decision is amended, it should be clearly understood that the independent evaluation must take fully into account the views of stakeholders, and that the Management Board and the Commission both have parts to play to ensure that any shortcomings shown up by the evaluation are put right within a reasonable time. (paragraph 166)

291.  In the end, any organisation will function well only if its staff can work together as one unit in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust. We hope that the evaluation will pay particular attention to this issue. (paragraph 167)

DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY

292.  It must be for the European Parliament to decide whether it wishes to adopt, in the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon, a formal procedure for the scrutiny of Europol's activities, and whether, and if so how, to involve the national parliaments of the Member States. We hope however that the Parliament will give this serious consideration. (paragraph 174)

Relations with partners

293.  We believe that for Europol and Eurojust to be located and working together in the same building could have resulted in a partnership which was easier, more productive and above all more secure. We share the disappointment of our witnesses that this will not now take place. (paragraph 187)

Security

RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURITY

294.  The Director of Europol should have overall responsibility for security in the organisation he directs. There is no case for the responsibility lying with a deputy whose responsibility bypasses the Director. (paragraph 213)

295.  Advice to the Director on security issues must come from within the organisation: from the deputy he appoints to deal with such matters, and from the security officer and other officials responsible. (paragraph 214)

296.  Whatever body it is that advises the Management Board on security issues must be small, must consist of security experts, and must work on a need to know basis. Except perhaps in the case of institutional matters there is no need for all Member States to be involved, or indeed for any Member States to be involved unless the security issues directly involve them or their national units or liaison officers. (paragraph 215)

297.  There must be clear demarcation between safeguarding security and data protection. (paragraph 216)

298.  Changes to the security structure can be made by amendment of the Council Act. The Council can make such amendments at any time; there is no need to wait for the Europol Decision to come into force. (paragraph 217)

INDIVIDUAL SECURITY

299.  If Member States are prepared to devote the necessary resources to clearing all individuals involved to the highest security levels required for their work, this alone should do much to enhance trust. (paragraph 221)

Data protection

300.  We express our regret, not for the first time, that the negotiations for a Data Protection Framework Decision, which could and should have resulted in an instrument setting a high general standard of protection for third pillar data exchanges, have instead produced an anodyne and toothless document which the Europol Decision does not trouble to apply to Europol's work. (paragraph 237)

Other issues

PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES

301.  The Regulation removing the privileges and immunities of Europol staff taking part in joint investigation teams will enter into force at the same time as the Europol Decision. We believe that this is a satisfactory outcome. (paragraph 241)

LINGUISTIC AND LEGAL DIFFICULTIES

302.  If analysis work files are to live up to expectations there must be a common understanding of the language used. We believe that a review should be commissioned to bring the terminology up to date. Once this is done, a small group should be appointed to make sure that the terminology remains clear and consistent. (paragraph 249)

303.  One of the activities listed in Europol's 2009 Work Programme is a multilingual European law enforcement dictionary, intended to facilitate searches by Europol officials for law enforcement words and expressions. This is an initiative we applaud. (paragraph 250)

QUALITY OF OFFICERS SECONDED TO EUROPOL

304.  We believe that the Director of SOCA and Chief Constables should make it the norm that a secondment to Europol takes place on promotion. (paragraph 254)

THE PROFILE OF EUROPOL AMONG UNITED KINGDOM POLICE FORCES

305.  It is essential that, when local police forces seek the help of SOCA over crimes with an international element, they should be told whether SOCA intend to seek help from Europol, Interpol or some other agency, and be kept fully informed of the outcome of their query and the source of any information from international agencies. If information from Europol reaches them re-branded as SOCA information, this will hinder their evaluation of it. (paragraph 260)

306.  Similarly, if SOCA requests information for Europol from police forces, they should be told that this is the purpose of the request. (paragraph 261)

307.  It should be the responsibility of SOCA to arrange visits to Europol by officers from United Kingdom forces, and to encourage senior officers to have a better understanding of Europol's work. (paragraph 263)

Conclusion

308.  We hope that those of our recommendations which require amendment of the Council Decision will meet with the approval of all the Member States, and can be made so that they enter into force, if not with the entry into force of the Decision on 1 January 2010, then soon after. (paragraph 22)

309.  We recommend this report to the House for debate. (paragraph 8)


 
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