web: Europol goes global in the hunt for intelligence and analysis:
The "angular lines"
used in Europol's logo, explains the agency, are "derived
from a spider's web which represents exchange of information,
networking and the cooperative nature of our work."
is made up of a number of pieces that "fit together like
a jigsaw and symbolise our core business - analysis. The upward
direction of the points in the symbol signifies speed, progress,
upward movement and precision." 
Europol is hoping to widen
its web, and has sought permission to negotiate four new cooperation
agreements so that it can formalise the exchange of information,
intelligence and analysis with Brazil, Georgia, Mexico and the
United Arab Emirates (UAE).
security" in Europe - combating organised crime, human trafficking,
drug smuggling, financial fraud and property crime amongst other
things - makes the need for these agreements operationally urgent,
Europol argues. Documents released by the agency also show that
its own strategic interests and a desire to reinforce its status
as a "major player" are also behind these proposals.
While Europol is obliged
to ensure adequate levels of data protection in the countries
with which it makes agreements, questions have been raised by
MEPs, human rights organisations and activists over the nature
of European cooperation with countries where political institutions
and police forces have dubious human rights records, make use
of questionable and sometimes illegal practices and techniques,
and have track records of corruption and political repression.
Over the next three weeks
a series of articles on Statewatch News Online will examine
Europol's proposed new agreements. We will start with an overview
of the context in which the agency is seeking these new agreements,
before moving on to examine two of the four new proposed "external
partners" - Brazil and Mexico. Next week the proposed agreement
with Georgia is examined, and following that, the UAE.
Europol's 2013 work programme
outlined an "annual objective" to "maximise operational
added value from all cooperation agreements with external partners."
This objective is to be measured by the number of requests for
information sent by and to Europol, and ties in with another
goal: to "promote effective regional cooperation with relevant
regional initiatives and key non-EU states." 
The agency currently has
agreements with 18 non-EU states and three international organisations.
Its operational agreements (with countries and organisations
including Australia, Canada, the USA and Interpol) permit the
exchange of personal data as well as more general data, while
strategic agreements (with countries and organisations such as
Colombia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, the World Customs Organisation
and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime) permit the exchange of
strategic and general information. 
In October last year Europol's
Management Board, made up of European Commission and member state
representatives, recommended to the Council that it amend the
list of third states with which the agency should sign agreements.
This recommendation was in turn based on a series of "business
cases" prepared by Europol, which attempted to make clear
the "political and operational interest in concluding cooperation
agreements with a limited number of priority countries."
The Cypriot Presidency
subsequently prepared in November last year a Draft Council Decision
that would permit amendment of the list. It was discussed at
a meeting of the Law Enforcement Working Party (LEWP), at which
the Commission argued "against the suggested amendment of
the list," reiterating a stance it had already taken at
meetings of Europol's management board. 
The Commission's opinions
were, however, put to one side, and the LEWP went to the European
Parliament (EP) to ask its opinion on the proposed amendment
to the list. Despite requesting that the EP deliver its opinion
"as soon as possible",  it was not until the end
of January that the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and
Home Affairs (LIBE) appointed a rapporteur for the procedure
(Philip Claeys from Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang).
The other relevant forum for debating the proposed agreements,
the Foreign Affairs Committee, decided it was unnecessary to
give an opinion on the proposal.
A date has not yet been
set for the LIBE Committee to examine the proposals, although
when it does issue its opinion it will not necessarily affect
the outcome of the process - the Council is obliged merely to
take the Parliament's opinion "into account". It thus
seems almost certain that the four new agreements will be given
the green light. First to be examined are the proposed agreements
with Brazil and Mexico.
1 | 2
 Europol, Corporate
 Europol, Europol
Work Programme 2013, 12667/12, 17 July 2012; see also
yet realistic": Europol seeks to further increase its role
in European policing, Statewatch News Online,
 Europol, External
 Law Enforcement Working Party, Summary
of discussions, 16346/12, 20 November 2012
 General Secretariat of the Council, Draft
Council Decision amending Decision 2009/935/JHA as regards the
list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall
conclude agreements - transmission to the European Parliament,
17043/12, 18 December 2012