11.8.2020 : 12:32 : +0200

General Information | Point of Contact | PoA initiatives & activites | Instruments & documents | Members


European Law Enforcement Agency (Europol)


The Hague, the Netherlands

Web site

Short description

Europol’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of and cooperation among 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 is financed from the EU budget and is subject to EU financial and staff regulations. After it became an EU agency, the European Parliament gained increased control over Europol activities and budget.

Europol members are aligned with the EU membership. The first steps towards establishing Europol can be traced back to the 1970s; however, its role and scope evolved until the Maastricht Treaty, which came into force in 1998, established a convention. Europol became operational in 1999. Reforms brought in by a new legal framework in 2010 made Europol an EU agency.


27 members (all UN member states)

  • Current members*: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (Bold: founding member, Grey: suspended member)
  • Former members: None
  • Membership pending: Pending EU memberships are the same for Europol: Croatia (acceding); Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey (all candidates).

Overlapping memberships with other ROs

Europol members represent:

  • 27 of 27 EU members
  • 21 of 28 NATO members
  • 27 of 56 OSCE members 19 of 46 RCC members

* Information accurate as of 26 April 2012

PoA Point of Contact

  • Europol
  • Operations Department


PoA-related activities

Europol handles the exchange and analysis of criminal intelligence across the EU. It has a permanent exchange of communications and criminal data connection with national units, which are based in every EU member state, and supports around two million EU law enforcement officers. Firearms are often confiscated or dealt with as part of responses to maritime piracy, money laundering, and the trafficking of drugs, humans, and other commodities. In 2010 a Europol policy brief considered firearms possession by both organized crime groups and lower-level street gangs to be rising. It recommended the following operational priorities: joint investigations focused on ‘dedicated armourers’ and ‘specialist brokers’ of firearms based in the EU; dedicated efforts to investigate and monitor the flows of firearms leaving South-east Europe for the EU; and the detailed recording of the quantity and types of illegal firearms seized in law enforcement operations, as well as those recovered in interdictions of multi-commodity shipments. Operation Shovel (2010) is an example of these measures. It focused on an Ireland-based violent organized crime group involved in drugs and weapons trafficking across Europe. Europol assisted law enforcement agencies in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Belgium by providing analyses and helping these agencies to detect criminal proceeds related to the group’s activities and dismantle the group’s moneylaundering network. Europol held operational and coordination meetings and supplied mobile offices in three countries on the day of the operation, thus allowing investigators to securely exchange intelligence in real time. More than 600 pieces of information were exchanged via Europol channels, and together with the coordinated efforts of over 700 investigators, 38 arrests were made in three countries. In 2004 Europol was authorized as an international entity to access INTERPOL’s encrypted communications system (I-24/7) and databases. In 2007 INTERPOL opened a liaison office in Europol headquarters to strengthen ongoing collaboration between the two police organizations. Europol also has strategic agreements with WCO and UNODC.

PoA-related programmes and initiatives

PoA-relevant cooperation with other ROs

Europol is an observer of AMERIPOL.

Legally binding regional instruments

As an EU agency, all EU legally binding instruments apply to Europol.

Other official documents of interest

  • Europol Review: General Report on Europol Activities 2010 (2011)
  • ‘Integrated EU Approach against the Illegal Trafficking in Heavy Firearms’, OC-SCAN Policy Brief for Threat Notice, No. 004-2010 (2010)


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