Europol is the European Union law enforcement agency that handles the exchange and analysis of criminal intelligence. Its mission is to improve the effectiveness and cooperation between EU law enforcement authorities in preventing and combating serious international crime and terrorism, with the aim of achieving a safer Europe for all EU citizens.
Europol commenced its full activities on 1 July 1999 following ratification of the Europol Convention by all EU Member States. On 1 January 2010 Europol became a full EU agency with a new legal framework and enhanced mandate, following the adoption of the Europol Council Decision, which replaced the Europol Convention.
Europol supports law enforcement activities of EU Member States in areas such as:
- Illicit drug trafficking,
- Illegal immigrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and child sexual exploitation,
- Counterfeiting and product piracy,
- orgery of money and other means of payment - Europol acts as Europe's Central Office for combating euro counterfeiting.
Europol supports Member States by:
- Facilitating the exchange of information and criminal intelligence between EU law enforcement authorities by way of the Europol Information and Analysis Systems, and the Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA),
- Providing operational analysis in support of Member States' operations,
- Generating strategic reports (e.g. threat assessments) and crime analysis on the basis of information and intelligence supplied by Member States, generated by Europol or gathered from other sources,
- Providing expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out within the EU, under the supervision and legal responsibility of the Member States concerned.
Europol is also active in promoting crime analysis and the harmonisation of investigative techniques and training within Member States.