Dear President,

Honourable Members,

Let me start by warmly thanking the rapporteur Javier Zarzalejos for excellent and constructive work done on this file.

On the new Europol mandate, together with all the shadow rapporteurs.

I think your common work really made it possible to have  constructive negotiations in the trialogue and a swift agreement.

Since we proposed Europol’s new mandate the unthinkable happened.

We did not expect war crimes committed in Europe.   

The Ukrainian prosecutor-general identifies thousands of suspected Russian war crimes.

Looting, murder, torture, and rape.

A Joint Investigation Team will collect evidence.

Europol is ready to support the Joint Investigation Team and work with Eurojust. When needed and when requested

We did also not expect millions of Ukrainian refugees coming into the EU .

Millions of women and children exposed to the danger of trafficking.

To fight this threat, Europol has set up a special task force to fight trafficking in human beings.

Its new mandate will help Europol to step up the fight against  these new threats, against old threats, and against potential threats.

Europol can help to organise a law enforcement response to major cross-border cyberattacks.

And help to prevent infiltration by foreign fighters.

The compromise you found allows Europol to propose to Member States to issue alerts on suspected terrorists. Into the Schengen database.

What we did expect when we put forward Europol’s new mandate.

Was the need to fight crime in a digital age.

In a digital age the clues to solving crimes.  Are in the cloud.  

Clues that can save lives and stop criminals, terrorists, or child abusers.

On servers in data centres. Often across national borders.

Europol will soon be able to get data directly from private companies. And analyse it. To identify which Member State should open an investigation.

The political agreement you reached is very important.

Makes sure Europol can continue to process large volumes of data.

That’s one of the main reasons I proposed to boost Europol’s mandate, in the first place. Europol must have legal clarity.

Because processing big data is key to solving almost all serious organised crimes.

Just one example.

In October 2017. A Maltese journalist was murdered.

When a bomb went off in her car.

Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Honoured by you.

By this House. By the European Parliament.

With a special prize for journalism awarded in her name.

Europol supported the investigation.

Helping to compare data from telecoms masts with billing information. With the suspects’ smartphones, laptops and storage devices.

These proceedings have taken years. And are not yet over. One killer has been convicted. Other suspects are still in custody.

And that’s why it’s important that the new mandate makes clear: there’s no doubt Europol can analyse and store information while an investigation continues. While national authorities are authorised to use the data.

This is Europol’s core task, to support national law enforcement in their investigations.

If processing big data is key to fighting crime. Artificial intelligence is the only way to analyse big data.

In the Encrochat case alone, French and Dutch police captured 120 million text messages.

Europol has 536 people working in its operational department.

They can’t process that without technology –  that’s more than 200,000 messages each!

And the clock is ticking. Delays costs lives.

So Europol built an artificial intelligence tool to support the Encrochat investigation. To look for key words, hinting at violence and murder. In different languages. Even in slang.

Allowing police to investigate these crimes and to stop murders from happening.

With its new mandate, Europol can greatly step up on research.

With a stronger role in advising on priorities of the EU security research agenda.

And an increased research staff – almost tenfold to 33. And with budget for innovation projects increased to 45 million euro.

And with a strong legal basis to develop IT tools and Artificial Intelligence.

Not only limited to specific operations like Encrochat.

But also to develop general law enforcement tools – for example tools to fight child sexual abuse more effectively.

Europol must keep on file all information on IT tools and algorithms. For defence lawyers to access if needed.

This is unique in the world.  A model of transparent and responsible law enforcement innovation.

A stronger mandate for Europol comes with stronger safeguards.

A reinforced data protection network.

A new fundamental rights officer – that was  strong wish of the European Parliament.

And greater powers of oversight. For the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol.

Protecting security and upholding fundamental rights go hand in hand.  

Values are at the heart of the new mandate.

Europol will soon be able to propose Member States to investigate crimes without a cross border element.

Crimes that don’t cross national borders but do violate other boundaries: our common Union interests. And our fundamental values.

Now we need to take the next steps. To get the new mandate fully operational.

When you vote on this mandate tomorrow.

It will be a bad day for criminals.

And a good day for Europol.

I thank you for your support and for your excellent work on this important proposal.