The European Commission has proposed a European Union Police Cooperation Code to improve cross-border police cooperation between all member states and provide EU police officers with more modern information exchange tools.
Since most criminals operate across borders, EU law enforcement officers must be able to collaborate quickly and efficiently. The Police Cooperation Code, which includes a Recommendation on operational police cooperation and new forms of information exchange, will help improve cross-border operations, provide clear channels and timeframes for exchanging information and give Europol a greater role.
In addition, revised rules on the automated exchange of certain categories of data will help to link crimes across the EU much more effectively. This will help to avoid information gaps, boost crime prevention, detection and investigation in the EU and promote security across Europe.
The proposed measures include:
- A Recommendation on operational police cooperation, which establishes common standards on cooperation between police officers participating in joint patrols and operating in the territory of another member state. This covers a common list of offences for which cross-border hot pursuits are possible and secure messaging tools for police officers to communicate with their counterparts when conducting operations in other EU countries.
- New rules on the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities of the Member States: police officers in one Member State must have equivalent access to information available to their colleagues in another Member State, under the same conditions. Member States shall establish a single point of contact, operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, adequately staffed and functioning as a “one-stop shop” for the exchange of information with other EU countries. The requested information must be made available within eight hours (for urgent cases) and within seven days at the latest. The Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), managed by Europol, should become the default communication channel.
- Revised standards on automated data exchange for police cooperation in the framework of the Prüm Decision, in order to improve, facilitate and streamline the exchange of data and help identify criminals. This ranges from the aggregation of facial images of suspected and convicted criminals and police records to automated data exchange and the introduction of a central router to which national databases can be connected, rather than a multitude of connections between each national database. Europol will also be able to support Member States in a more efficient way through the study of data from non-EU countries with member states’ databases, thus helping to identify known offenders in third countries.
It is now up to the European Parliament and the Council to examine and adopt the proposal for a Directive on the exchange of information and the Regulation on automated data exchange. The proposal for a Council recommendation on operational police cooperation is now to be discussed and adopted by the Council, after consultation with the European Parliament. The Recommendation would then serve as a basis for all member states to update their existing national or bilateral agreements.