Europol’s Reform Afoot while New Terrorist Threat Stopped in Italy

External Relations
An antiterrorist operation has been carried out by the Italian police in Bari on Tuesday. Terrorists were planning attacks in Italy and Britain. Thanks to new governance rules, Europol will soon be able to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other threats.

One of the detained Afghans is accused of international terrorism, whilst the other is charged of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Three other subjects are sought by the Italian Police.

The investigation had begun last December, as the police identified four Afghan citizens taking pictures inside a Supermarket. The police found footage of the airport of Bari on their mobile phones.

Further investigations had allowed to ascertain that a couple of them had moved first to Paris and then to Kabul.

Meanwhile, new governance rules, will soon enable Europol to step up efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other criminal offences and respond faster to threats. The final approval of the new rules by Parliament as a whole in Strasbourg is planned on Wednesday, 11 May 2016.

New Major Terrorist Attacks Are Likely to Happen in Europe

The Director of the European Police Office (Europol), Rob Wainwright said on Wednesday that new major terrorist attacks are likely to happen in Europe.

Answering to the questions of the members of Schengen Commission of Italian Parliament, director Rob Wainwright said that the threat is “still very high, the most serious since the time of September 11 and I fear that another attack in Europe is probable in the future”.

In July, Europol issued a report stating that there would be more terror attacks in Europe.

In his speech, Wainwright said that investigations are ongoing about possible terror threats. However, there are no threats directed against Italy.

He called on the intelligence services of European countries to cooperate more effectively in the aftermath of Paris and Brussels attacks and declared that efforts are underway to gather all information from police and intelligence bodies of different countries in one centre.

“We knew that ISIS had set up a new command structure in Syria to plan attacks against European cities and then, unfortunately, Brussels happened,” Wainwright said.

For more information on the terrorist attacks in Brussels, read “Belgium is not a Failed State. Or at least not yet” and “Why Brussels? Belgium as the European epicentre of extremist violence.”

As reported by the Daily Sabah, Wainwright stressed that the terrorists that carried out the Paris attacks arrived in Europe through illegal migration, and said that Europol’s concern is to track down terrorists arriving in Europe through fake identities amid the refugee influx.

“It is our top priority to track down the connections of terrorists in Europe,” he added.


Europol’s Reform to Counter the Rise in Cross-border Crimes and Terrorist Threats

Last Thursday, the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament has endorsed new governance rules for Europol. The draft rules, agreed by Parliament and Council in November last year, will enhance Europol’s mandate to counter the rise in cross-border crimes and terrorist threats, especially by making it easier for Europol to set up specialised units to respond immediately to emerging threats.

Established in 1995 in The Hague, the European Police Office (Europol) was meant for providing support to national law enforcement services’ action and their mutual cooperation in preventing and fighting serious crime and terrorism.  So far, its main task has been to collect, keep, manage, analyse and exchange information, including criminal intelligence.

Thanks to the new rules, planned to come into effect on 1 April 2017, Europol will be able to exchange information directly with private entities, such as firms or NGOs, and it will collect data from Member States to fulfil its objectives, as so to avoid information gaps in the fight against organised crime and terrorism.

However, data protection safeguards and democratic oversight will counterbalance these new powers. Europol’s work will be overseen by a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group, with members from both national parliaments and the European Parliament, as well as by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). A clear complaints procedure under EU law for citizens is also envisaged.

Read “European Parliament adopts PNR Directive to Fight Terrorism,”for more information on the European efforts to fight against terror.

Furthermore, as the new rules align the European Police Office with the Lisbon Treaty, Europol’s structure, procedures and tasks will be jointly determined by the Parliament and Council and the cooperation will be governed by the community method.

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