The Council adopts two general guidelines and a recommendation to improve operational police cooperation and information exchange.

To effectively combat crime and respond to new threats of crime, the Council adopted a recommendation on operational police cooperation. It also adopted the general guidelines for the information exchange directive and the Prüm II regulation.

Prüm II Regulation

The Prüm Regulation aims to facilitate the automatic exchange of DNA data, fingerprint data and vehicle registration data between law enforcement agencies for the purpose of preventing, detecting and investigating criminal offences. It allows law enforcement agencies to query the national databases of one or more Member States and provides a “hit/no hit” result (hit or no hit). Authorities can then request to receive relevant data.

The new text extends this exchange to other categories of data, such as facial images, police records of suspects and convicted criminals, and driver’s licenses.

The new text also aims to modernize the technical infrastructure that supports these exchanges by replacing the many direct links between national databases with a central router that connects them all. This will increase the performance and efficiency of the system and make it easier for authorities to query multiple databases.

Metin also integrates Europol into the Prüm system, allowing the agency to initiate inquiries and gain access to databases containing biometric data from third countries.

Information Exchange Directive

The purpose of this text is to establish legislation on the organizational and procedural aspects of information exchange between law enforcement agencies, in order to contribute to the effective sharing of this information. While reinforcing Europol’s role as the EU’s information center on crime, it will ensure equal access for law enforcement officials to information available in other Member States and prevent the proliferation of communication channels used for information transmission.

Member States will have a single point of contact operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to exchange information with other EU countries. In an emergency, the requested information must be provided within eight hours if it is directly accessible by the single point of contact and within three days if the single point of contact can obtain it from public or private parties. All other requests must be notified within seven days.

In addition, with the few exceptions listed in the text, Europol must be copied in all exchanges of information. The Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), operated by Europol, will be the default communication channel.

Advice on operational police cooperation

Cross-border surveillance and surveillance, as well as joint patrols and operations, are essential tools of police cooperation and help ensure that people do not escape from law enforcement simply by crossing the border.

The adopted recommendation defines a set of standards for operational cooperation between police officers stationed in another Member State or participating in joint operations. In particular, it covers the following points:

  • a set of principles for cross-border tracking and surveillance
  • A list of offenses for which cross-border surveillance and surveillance should be allowed
  • a framework for joint operations
  • establishing a support platform for joint patrols and joint operations, as well as providing effective access to information and communication through secure channels
  • Joint training and professional development for the establishment of a European police culture

Next steps

Negotiations with the European Parliament on the two legislative proposals will begin after it accepts its position.

context

Terrorist groups and organized crime groups engage in a wide variety of criminal activities across borders. According to Europol’s 2021 Serious Organized Crime Threat Assessment, around 70% of criminal networks are active in more than three Member States.

Therefore, police officers must be able to systematically cooperate across the EU and have access to information available to their colleagues in other Member States to effectively combat crime and respond to new criminal threats.

A number of measures have been taken in recent years, including implementing the interoperability of EU databases in the field of justice and home affairs and strengthening Europol’s mandate. However, more can still be done. On 9 December 2021, the European Commission presented these recommendations as part of a package of measures to improve police cooperation.

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