Honourable members of all these different parliaments that are connected today.
Like most of you I grew up in a country where it is normal to go up to a policewoman or man and ask a question.
To ask for help.
Where it is normal not to be afraid of police.
To trust police.
There are many people in Europe who grew up in countries where it was not normal, to trust police.
Where it was not normal to assume the police was your friend.
Where uniforms did not inspire trust, but fear.
And today we’re reminded by Black Lives Matters that also in democratic societies, not everyone feels this trust towards police.
But overall there’s trust in police, because we live in a European Union of democratic states.
Where there are checks and balances.
Where there are controls.
Where there is oversight.
We fight crime in Europe together. We must also organise democratic oversight together. On the European and national level.
And that is your important job. Of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.
Your oversight guarantees trust in Europol.
Europol is extremely successful, when it comes to fighting crime.
Take Encrochat. Hiding behind encrypted phone calls, criminals plotted drug deals, violent crimes and murders across Europe and beyond.
Police could prevent these crimes and put the criminals before prosecution because they could tap the encrypted phone calls. Because Member States’ police forces worked closely together. And because of Europol’s coordinating role.
The most shocking find was a torture chamber – a soundproof cell with a dentist chair, handcuffs, garden scissors and scalpels.
Before the court, the accused said it was “just for show”. To me what it shows is the need to step up the fight against organised crime even further.
Europol helps police to crack down on criminals exploiting the virus, rolling up face mask scams involving millions of euros.
With Europol support, police forces have stopped terror finance and online jihadist propaganda.
Europol helped take down the Dark Scandals website. A website with more than 2000 videos and images. A website that used the slogan. “Real blackmail, rape and forced videos of girls all around the world.”
This website is now offline. And the owner is behind bars.
Europol helps member states to prevent and detect child sexual abuse. To put a halt to grooming, sexual extortion and live streaming.
Europol victim identification taskforces help national police to actually save these children.
This year, Europol helped to stop abusers in Spain, Italy and Hungary.
The fight against child sexual abuse is my top priority. And Europol, my number one ally in this fight
In the last ten years, online child sexual abuse increased exponentially. From one million reports to 17 million worldwide. And from 23, 000 to 725,000 in Europe
The business model of these predators fuels this increase. Closed and secret groups on the Internet have an entrance fee of new and unseen material. To see videos of raped children, paedophiles must rape children. And post these new rapes, new videos.
Police have to deal with so much content that they have to prioritise. They have to choose, which children they save first.
These predators hide in the dark. It’s our obligation to turn on the light.
In July I launched a strategy to fight child sexual abuse.
We must involve the big Internet companies. Their voluntary reporting now saves children all over Europe.
That’s why I have presented emergency legislation. To prevent an unintended effect of the electronic communication code, which comes into force in December this year. Which would stop companies, from voluntarily reporting, detecting and removing child sexual abuse online.
Next year, I will present permanent proposals that will compel companies to detect and report known child sexual abuse materials.
And I want to set up a European Centre to Prevent and Counter Child Sexual Abuse, building on Europol’s expertise in analysis, information-sharing and victim identification.
We will build strong safeguards into our legislation to protect privacy and other fundamental rights. The new centre will be subject to strict control mechanisms, to ensure accountability.
We must both protect children and fundamental rights. I will never accept, that this is a contradiction.
I look forward to working with the European Parliament and the German Presidency on our proposals.
And I would like to use this opportunity to also thank you, Horst Seehofer, for putting the important issue of police cooperation high up on the agenda during your Presidency.
Besides fighting child sexual abuse, I launched proposals:
To fight firearms trafficking. Guns kill people. And because there’s 35 million illegal firearms in Europe.
To fight drugs crime. Where there’s drugs, there’s also often guns, violence and murder.
Last week’s attack in Paris shows, terrorism remains a threat. To counter terrorism, we will take further action to counter radicalisation, and to protect public spaces and critical infrastructure.
Together with Council and the European Parliament I will do my utmost to find and agreement to take down terrorist online content as soon as fast as possible. To stop them recruiting and spreading their message of hate.
We are working hard to improve cross border policing.
That means making progress on interoperability – because efficient data exchange is essential to catch cross-border criminals.
We are working on proposals to improve the sharing of criminal investigation data – such as DNA and fingerprints – among Member States’ law enforcement agencies.
We want to make it easier for law enforcement to access electronic evidence across borders. Today, 85% of criminal investigations rely on electronic evidence.
To concentrate more on Europol.
I want Europol to continue to be able to do its job, in a digital age. That’s why at the end of this year, I will present a proposal to renew the mandate of Europol, to boost it
Criminals increasingly rely on technology. I want Europol to stimulate innovation in law enforcement. In a high tech arms race with criminals, I want the good guys and girls to win.
Crimes are increasingly online. I want Europol to be able to work more effectively with private companies. With Internet companies against online child sexual abuse and online terrorist content. And with banks and financial companies, against financial crimes.
Crimes are also increasingly international. Human traffickers smuggle people, between continents – and it’s also happening within the European Union. European predators watch children raped in Asia. European extremists watch terrorist attacks live as they happen on the other side of the world – as in the Christchurch attacks. I want Europol to work more closely, with third countries.
And I want this stronger mandate to be matched by powerful safeguards. All of Europol’s data processing activities must of course be strictly in line with EU data protection rules.
Safeguards are the secret to Europol’s success. Safeguards inspire trust. The Member States work with Europol because they trust Europol, and I want to keep it that way.
Greater responsibility for Europol also means greater responsibility for the Joint parliamentary Scrutiny Group.
I agree with the European Parliament – and I quote “that a strengthened mandate should go hand-in-hand with adequate parliamentary scrutiny.” Stronger powers for Europol must mean stronger democratic oversight.
By December we will present a balanced proposal. A proposal that will allow Europol to support Member States to address new challenges. While ensuring the highest standards of data protection.
All of Europol’s recent major cases, the success stories I mentioned involved criminal analysis of large data sets collected during these investigations. Cases against terrorism, organised crime and child sexual abuse online. This is an essential element of any investigation and one of the important tasks of Europol to support.
Including the Encrochat case.
Remember that torture chamber? Which hadn’t yet been used?
What if Europol when supporting Member States law enforcement had not been able to use the data? What if for that reason, they had come too late?
We must protect rights. But if police cannot process big data, we will have big problems. Very dangerous criminals will escape into the Cloud undetected.
And nobody wants that for sure. We need Europol to be able to continue to provide analytical support that is needed.
At the moment I am preparing an update of the Europol regulation that will aim to also clarify any ambiguity in this regard
We have fully involved the Data Protection Supervisor in the discussion on Europol’s changing mandate. And we will work closely with him and Europol to make sure Europol can continue performing this crucial role until the mandate is agreed.
You asked me also to say a few words on Brexit.
The negotiations are now in a crucial phase. So I really only can say, a few words.
I think that actually this, is the most crucial week in the negotiations with the UK.
It’s in the interest of both the EU and Britain to fight criminals and share information.
We want to build a close, ambitious future partnership. I thank the European Parliament and all Member States for their continued trust in our negotiating team. We will continue to work as hard as we can to achieve the best possible result.
There should be a political agreement by the end of next month, to allow the partnership agreement to enter into force on 1 January 2021.
If there’s a “no-deal”, information sharing through Europol will end.
A “no-deal” will be disruptive. And we don’t want it, for sure. But we are ready for if it happens. EU and national contingency measures will take effect. The Commission has issued practical guidance.
Both as a Union, and as Member States, we know what to do. We are fully prepared.
But still, I remain optimistic that the UK and EU will agree on a balanced partnership, in full respect of human rights, in the interest of all our citizens to be able to share information.
Security and freedom go hand in hand.
Freedom without security is the law of the strongest
Security without freedom is a dictatorship.
I want to thank Europol for another successful year in fighting crime.
And I want to thank the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group, and the European Data Protection Supervisor, for protecting rights.
Trust, is the secret of Europol’s success.
I look forward to working with you, to keep Europe safe and free.
And also to answer your questions.