Police Cooperation Code: Boosting police cooperation across borders for enhanced security

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the Commission is proposing an EU Police Cooperation Code to enhance law enforcement cooperation across Member States and give EU police officers more modern tools for information exchange. With a large part of criminals operating across borders, police officers in the EU must be able to work together quickly and efficiently. The Police Cooperation Code – which includes a Recommendation on operational police cooperation and new rules on information sharing – will help improve cross-border operations, provide clear channels and timeframes for exchanging information and give Europol a stronger role. In addition, revised rules on automated exchange of certain categories of data will help establish links between crimes across the EU much more effectively. This will help close information gaps, boost the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal offences in the EU, and foster security for everyone in Europe. Today, the Commission is also reporting on overall progress under the EU Security Union Strategy.

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said: “Criminals should not be able to escape police simply by moving from one Member State to another. Today, we are proposing rules to help police officers throughout the EU work together to catch criminals. Having clear channels for information exchange will mean that police can quickly identify suspects and gather the information they need for investigations.”

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said: “Our proposals today will solve very practical cross-border problems that police officers in Europe face every day. For example, what rules apply if the police has to cross an internal border chasing a criminal in a hot pursuit? Today, the police face differing and complex national rules, while with our proposals they would have a clear European framework. The police will also have better tools to exchange information they need for investigations, to keep us all safe from increasingly sophisticated criminals.”

The proposed measures include:

  • A Recommendation on operational police cooperation, creating shared standards for cooperation between police officers participating in joint patrols and acting in the territory of another Member State. This includes a common list of crimes for which hot pursuits across borders are possible and secure messenger tools for police officers to communicate with their counterparts when conducting operations in other EU countries. While police operations and criminal investigations remain Member States’ responsibility, these common standards will make it easier for police officers to work in other EU countries. The Recommendation will also promote a common EU culture of policing through joint training, including language courses or exchange programmes.
  • New rules on information exchange between law enforcement authorities of Member States: Police officers in one Member State should have equivalent access to the information available to their colleagues in another Member State, under the same conditions. Member States should put in place a single point of contact, operational 24/7, adequately staffed and acting as a “one-stop shop” for information exchange with other EU countries. The information requested should be made available within 8 hours (for urgent cases) up to maximum 7 days. The trusted Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), managed by Europol, should become the default channel of communication.
  • Revised rules on automated data exchange for police cooperation under the ‘Prüm’ framework, to improve, facilitate and accelerate data exchange and help identify criminals. This includes adding facial images of suspects and convicted criminals and police records to the automated data exchange and introducing a central router to which national databases can connect, replacing the multitude of connections between each national database. Europol will also be able to support Member States more efficiently by checking data from non-EU countries against Member States’ databases, helping to identify criminals known by countries outside the EU.

Next steps

It is now for the European Parliament and Council to examine and adopt the proposed Directive on information exchange and the Regulation on automated data exchange. The proposal for a Council Recommendation on operational police cooperation is now for the Council to discuss and adopt, after consultation of the European Parliament. The Recommendation would then serve as a basis for all Member States to update their existing national or bilateral arrangements.

Background

In an area without internal border controls, criminals must not be able to escape police simply by moving from one Member State to another. According to Europol’s 2021 EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment, almost 70% of criminal networks are active in more than 3 Member States. Police officers need to be able to cooperate effectively and systematically across the EU. In the July 2020 EU Security Union Strategy, the Commission announced proposals to boost police cooperation, aiming to ensure that law enforcement across the EU can work together better under a modern rulebook.

As highlighted in the April 2021 EU Strategy to tackle organised crime, robust police cooperation and smooth exchange of information is essential in the fight against all forms of serious and organised crime. Today’s proposal for a Police Cooperation Code delivers on the commitment made in the Strategy.Easier police cooperation will help boost the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal offences in the EU. It is also crucial to ensure the good functioning of the Schengen area, as highlighted in the June 2021 Strategy towards a fully functioning and resilient Schengen area. Efficient police cooperation is indeed an effective way to address security threats in the Schengen area and will contribute to sustaining an area without controls at internal borders.

Today, the Commission is also reporting on the progress made over the last 6 months under the EU Security Union Strategy towards building a future-proof security environment.

For More Information

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on operational police cooperation (see also the annex to the proposal and the synopsis report of stakeholder consultations)

Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on information exchange between law enforcement authorities of Member States (see also the impact assessment and its executive summary)

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on automated data exchange for police cooperation (see also the impact assessment and its executive summary)

MEMO: Police Cooperation Code: Questions and Answers

Factsheet: Reinforcing police cooperation across Europe

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