14 May 2019

A European FBI to fight terrorism and organised crime

A European FBI to fight terrorism and organised crime

In 1991 already, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had proposed creating Europol as a true “European FBI”. His idea stood in a long line of proposals and concrete actions from our EPP family for more security in Europe: In the 1980s and early 1990s, we have established the necessary security legislation to accompany the introduction of borderless travel within the Schengen area. Today, the key security legislation of this term has been brought forward by the EPP. From the PNR directive to track terrorists and criminals travelling by plane over the entry-exit-system to ensure effective control of who arrives and stays in the EU to the terrorism directive for common definitions and prosecution of terrorist crimes: We have turned Europe into a safer place.

But of course, every victim of terrorism and crime is one victim too much. This is why, we want to take the next big step in Europe’s fight on terrorism and organised crime. And this is also clearly what the people expect from Europe: The fight on terrorism is the second most important issue, just after the migration challenge, where the people expect solutions from the EU [Eurobarometer 12/2018].

As EPP, we do not just talk, but we deliver and we push for further actions: Within the next five years, we want to turn Europol into a “European FBI”, by launching these ten concrete steps:

1. More joint investigation teams

• Nothing can replace direct human contact and exchange. We want to build on the successes of Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) and its Analysis Projects (AP): Europe needs more joint investigation teams, where our security professionals can work closely together and also share confidential information in a highly protected environment. More joint investigation teams will not only bring Europe’s fight against terrorism to the next level, but also the fight against human traffickers along the main migration routes, the fight against drugs, especially in Europe’s harbours, and the fight against illegal weapons, especially from South-Eastern Europe.

2. European translator pools for rare languages

• To keep up with the increasingly international character of crime and terrorism, translators for rare languages are needed throughout the police forces of all Member States. To solve this problem in the fastest and most pragmatic way, core teams of such translators shall operate under the roof of Europol and offer their services to all Europol member countries.

3. A true European Police Academy

• We want to better train a generation of officers that is used to working together in European teams since their first day of service. This is why we want to strengthen the Budapest based European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) and turn it into a true European Police Academy. In this academy, our Europol agents would be training together with national police to acquire the most advanced state of the arts knowledge.

4. Sharing and analysing all established security data

• Vast amounts of security information still goes unused because it is not properly shared between our security services in Europe. We welcome the recent agreement on the interoperability of security databases in Europe, but we want to go further in the next legislative term: DNA samples or car licence plates from criminals collected under the Prüm decision or all air travel information to identify terror suspects and criminals within the national passenger name records (PNR) databases must also be shared automatically. The security of our citizens cannot be hampered by complicated, often weeks long, bureaucratic request-for-information processes between national security authorities.

• The Europol database including over 46.000 persons linked to terrorism, contributed by 37 countries, is an example for a true European security database. Similar databases should be established in further fields of cross-border organised crime.
• But sharing of information is not enough. Europol must get more analytical personnel to combine the data from different databases, to analyse and treat them for optimal use by national security authorities for prevention and tracing purposes. Only with stepped up common analytical capacities, will Europol be able to combine different national pieces into the full European picture.

5. Setting up Europe’s leading Digital Forensics Centre

• Modern forensics require most sophisticated technologies and vast resources to be able to track the traces of criminals. By 2020, Europol will have the most modern forensic decryption facility of the whole European Union. By making Europol the European leader in digital forensics and biotech, accessible to all Member States’ security forces, we ensure the best conditions for solving crimes everywhere in Europe.

6. Breaking the digital encryption codes of criminal messages

• Only internet companies that grant the security authorities access to their encryption technologies or deliver plain data in cases of specific grounds of suspicion shall be allowed access to the Digital Single Market. This will prevent criminals and potential offenders from easily communicating among themselves through encrypted channels via “WhatsApp” or similar software. There must not be any legal vacuums on the Internet.
• At the same time, Europe’s own decryption capacities must be significantly increased, by establishing a “European Decryption Hub” within Europol.

7. Developing future key security technologies together

• Next generation security technologies, such as “face-scanning” for train stations or football stadiums, big data analysis or modelling of security scenarios should be refined and expanded within the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme’s security technology research. By joining our resources and best researchers in Europe behind common research goals, we can make a leap in security technology together. Europol could help identify concrete priority areas for security research together with leading national security experts and academics.

8. Europol, ENISA and the new cyber-brigade to work in synergy against cyberattacks

• When large cyberattacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, hit people EU-wide, Europol must be able to work in complete synergy with the new cyber-brigade, and other existing structures, such as the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), and conduct true European investigations.

9. Granting Europol more competences to investigate counterfeiting of our common €uro currency & cyberattacks against EU institutions

• Europol should be given a strengthened investigative competence to fight counterfeiters of Euro bills and coins. The security of our common European currency needs a common high level of protection throughout all Member States.
• When the Council building is bugged, European Commission servers are hacked or phones of MEPs are wiretapped, Europol should be in charge to investigate these cyberattacks or espionage activities. The security of the democratic institutions of the European Union must no longer solely depend on the individual security capacities the member state where that institution is located.

10. Securing sufficient funding to Europol

• The European Commission proposal for the EU’s multiannual budget resulting in a 14% cut of Europol’s current budget to annually 123,7 million EUR is clearly unacceptable. This proposed budget would be 2 times less than that of the Luxembourgish police force and 10 times less than the budget of the city police of Berlin. Instead of weakening Europol’s budget, we propose doubling it, in order to enable Europol to assume its current and future tasks.