Wednesday 8 November 2006, by Bruggeman Willy
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The question constantly arises if Europol’s operational capabilities should be further developed and if parallel to this the democratic control of Europol must be upgraded?
The political belief in the future of Europol remains strong, notwithstanding the fact that Europol apparently has difficulties in obtaining its politically and legally assigned position. The Constitutional Treaty and the Hague Program are very ambitious as far as the future of Europol (and Eurojust) is concerned. As well the Parliamentary control as its operational capabilities are subject of further clarification. Providing Europol with adequate operational capabilities AND improving democratic control are intrinsically interlinked.
Following this logic, and when discussing future models for granting executive powers to Europol, three theoretical models can be distinguished:
the joint investigation teams model;
the «corpus juris» model (taken from the Commission Green paper on a European public prosecutor);
the European criminal law model, consisting of creating a real European criminal law system, working together with a European public prosecutor to present cases to European criminal courts. The Constitutional treaty and the Hague program are designing Europol’s maximum operational capabilities.
But the European Parliament has no real powers in deciding legislation affecting the remit or powers of Europol, it can not reject legislation propose measures on its own initiative, whereas parliaments in the Member States must approve rules governing the functioning of national agencies. In theory the national Parliaments of the EU Member States and the European Parliament have a mission and a mandate to monitor and evaluate the activities that take place in the framework of Title VI TEU (Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters), notably those of Europol and the Member States supposed to actively participate into Europol’s activities.
The parliaments and the Commission have proposed several possible measures in order to increase Europol’s democratic accountability.
It would be advisable that the European Parliament further develops a common opinion on this subject in respect of eventual new adequate operational capabilities to be provided to Europol. It is in the interest of Europol itself to promote higher transparency and its Management Board should be asked to formulate a clear opinion and vision on this subject itself. But the risk is there that due to the members of this board are often members of the government administration itself, their response to this invitation would not be very innovative.
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