Effective cooperation between the law enforcement authorities of EU Member States is required in order to prevent and combat cross-border serious crimes and terrorism in the EU. Member States’ law enforcement authorities have traditionally been cooperating on an ad-hoc basis, bilaterally or multilaterally. The EU seeks to facilitate cooperation between Member States, with the aim to achieve a quicker, safer, and more structured cooperation.
The Commission and the EU law enforcement agencies, such as Europol, do not have autonomous investigative capabilities and are not in charge of operational law enforcement activities. This remains the responsibility of EU Member States.
However, the Commission and the EU agencies contribute to the enhancement of law enforcement cooperation within the EU:
- By proposing a common EU multi-annual strategic framework, as outlined in the European Agenda on Security 2015-2020.
- By improving information exchange, notably through EU legislation such as the EU PNR (Passenger Name Record), by setting up and managing databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS) or the Visa Information System (VIS), by promoting the sharing of information among Member States and Europol through Europol databases and secure connections, by proposing a common European Information Exchange Model (EIXM), and by assisting Member States in the implementation of existing legal instruments such as the Prüm Decision or the Swedish Decision.
- By promoting operational cooperation, notably through
- the EU Policy Cycle for serious and organised crime / EMPACT, where Member States organise over 200 EU joint operational actions against organised crime per year;
- through EU legislation organising cross-border cooperation between EU Member States such as joint investigations against cross-border crime, joint-patrols, cross-border hot pursuits or surveillances; and
- through operational support to Member States provided by EU agencies such as Europol and CEPOL.
- By supporting Member States actions through funding, training, and research and innovation.