In Brussels, the Council and Parliament are waiting for the Lisbon Treaty to be enacted so that the European Police Office (Europol) powers can be greatly enhanced beyond cross-border crime – this inevitably has implied that the Lisbon Treaty will ensure new crime measures above and beyond national laws (under Article 69G). According to Article 2 (1) of the Europol Convention the objective of Europol, the European Law Enforcement Organisation, is to improve “effectiveness and cooperation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime where there are factual indications that an organized criminal structure is involved and two or more Member States are affected by the forms of crime in question in such a way as to require a common approach by the Member States owing to the scale, significance and consequences of the offences concerned.”
The European Commission has already put forward a proposal for a Council Decision to replace the previous Europol Convention with all the amendments already incorporated in the three Protocols, as well as some new provisions. The Commission has also proposed that Europol’s competence should not be limited to cross-border organised crime and that it should extend Europol’s mandate to any serious crime.
The Europol will be a Union agency funded by the EU budget. The European Parliament is already calling for the Council Decision to be revised within a period of six months following the Lisbon Treaty’s entry into force, as it will have a greater say on decision-making (co-decision powers). These encroaching powers will not work in the UK’s favour.
Under the terms of Lisbon, Europol will vastly extend its own powers and Member States will no longer be able to block any further extension of powers. Presently, the Europol Convention amendments are decided by the Council acting unanimously after consulting the European Parliament. It is amended through protocols which are then ratified by national Parliaments. Hence, national parliaments do have some influence over the content of a Protocol and can block its ratification. When the Europol Convention is replaced by a Council decision, rules governing Europol will be amended by Council decisions unanimously adopted but national ratification is not required. Therefore, such aspects will be defined by secondary legislation rather than by Protocols amending the Convention. The Lisbon Treaty puts forward some tasks that Europol will have in the future – it is clear that the list is not exhaustive and also that Member States will no longer be able to block further extension of Europol powers. However, while The Treaty does offer some attempt to provide scrutiny of Europol it falls drastically short of the kind of scrutiny needed for it to be an actual European police force as demanded in the Treaty provisions. This provision must be completely rejected.