Volume 47 (2010) / Issue 4
The long-awaited Council Decision of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol) replaces the Europol Convention and transforms Europol from an intergovernmental organization into an EU agency. This article contains a critical exploration of the new provisions of the Europol Council Decision. The authors take stock of the novelties through a comparative analysis of the Europol Convention, its Protocols, the Commission Proposal and revised versions of the Europol Council Decision. Europol is thematically dissected into clusters: legal basis, competence, tasks, governance and control. The assessment is based on the following questions: What are the major changes? Do they contribute to a better functioning of Europol? What are the missed opportunities? In what direction is Europol heading? The importance of the Europol Council Decision is that it provides Europol with a new and more flexible legal basis. The shift in competence from “organized crime” to “serious crime” is another significant change. The Europol Council Decision continues to stress Europol’s core-business, which remain information-related tasks. A “European FBI” seems far off, even with the transformation of Europol into a full-fledged EU agency. The Europol Council Decision falls somewhat short of expectations when it comes to Europol’s governance and control. Overall, the main conclusion of this article is that the Europol Council Decision is not as new as it would seem, yet new enough to herald a new era for Europol.
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