Police cooperation: MEPs OK EU deal with Bosnia to fight crime and terrorism

A new agreement establishing police cooperation between Europol and Bosnia Herzegovina to step up the joint fight against organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious international crime was approved by Parliament on Wednesday.

MEPs approved the Council draft text establishing police cooperation with Bosnia by 314 votes to 181, with 68 abstentions. This agreement governs “operational and strategic cooperation” which entails exchanging information such as specialist knowledge, general situation reports and strategic analyses, but could also include the exchange of personal data and classified information.

On Tuesday, Parliament also approved an agreement on strategic cooperation between Europol and the United Arab Emirates. This agreement does not allow for any exchange of personal data.

New review clause for all Europol agreements with third countries

Under current rules, Parliament need only be consulted before the Council establishes police cooperation agreements with third countries. However, in recently-concluded talks on new rules to govern Europol, Parliament’s negotiators insisted on inserting a review clause to apply to all such agreements.

This means that the operation of all existing international agreements between Europol and third countries will be assessed within five years of the entry into force of the new regulation to ascertain that they comply fully with data protection standards and meet EU standards on policing.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament decides on an equal footing with Council on Europol. Once the new Europol regulation enters into force, Parliament’s green light will be needed for any new EU police cooperation agreements with third countries.

Next steps

Now that Parliament has been heard, the Council of Ministers can authorise Europol to formally conclude the agreement, so that it can enter into force.