Statewatch article: RefNo# 6751
Europol annual report and work programme for 2004
Statewatch News Online, May 2003
Europol, the European Police Office established by the EU in 1995, has produced drafts of
its annual report for 2002 and work programme for 2004. As usual, the reports are largely
a public relations exercise - the annual report is a sanitised version of that produced for
governments and fails to include even the minimal statistics provided in earlier reports; the
work programme is largely a combination of the vague and the aspirational. Reading
between the lines, however, a number of observations are worthy of note.

Primarily, Europol has a new 'goal' of reaching:

"a situation where two thirds of all activities are operational, a balance that
obviously this young organisation has not yet achieved. Activities and results in 2002
demonstrate that the organisation is on its journey towards this goal."

What is interesting is how the stated objective of the 1995 Convention: "improving
effectiveness and cooperation of the competent authorities of the Member States", has
apparently been surpassed by prioritising the operational development of Europol as an
organisation. This decision was not taken by EU governments acting in the Council but by
Europol's Management Board. At the time the Convention was signed, the Director of the
UK NCIS could not "even see over the horizon any kind of operational arm for Europol" -
how quickly times have changed.

Counter-terrorism

The annual report notes that events following 11th September "forced the organisation to
reprioritise its work", leading to the creation of counter-terrorism task force that was later
made permanent. "Practical difficulties" and "serious gaps in completeness and timeliness of
the flow of information" were encountered, likely due to reluctance to cooperate on the part
of certain police and security agencies who have traditionally guarded their "patch". It is
interesting to note the role of the European Police Chief's Task Force here:

"The [Europol counter-terrorism]Task Force also worked on different other projects,
based on initiatives or requests from the Member States or other bodies like the
European Union PCTF covering a wide range of issues in relation to the current
threat".

The PCOTF has no legal basis in EU Treaties or legal personality, no formal lines of
accountability or democratic scrutiny and was established solely on the basis of a
Recommendation from the Tampere European Council in October 1999.

All other terrorism projects, which had earlier included "eco-terrorism" and "anarchist
terrorism" were put on hold because of the focus on "extremist Islamic terrorism", says the
report.

"Illegal immigration"

Illegal immigration stands out as one of the key activities in which Europol is involved. The
report cites "political interest among the Member States" as a reason for this, though it is
clear from the reports of the Europol national units that, together with drug trafficking, this is
where the police in the member states see Europol's practical value. There were also three
"High Impact Operations" related to illegal immigration in which Europol participated.
Again, the role of the PCTF is noted:

"Police Chiefs Task Force Action Plan became a valid basis for Member States,
Accession Countries and Europol in combating Illegal Immigration and Trafficking in
Human Beings".

Rather ambiguous statistics are provided on operations RIO I and II, which targeted
airports in the member states. "RIO I" (2-4 April 2002) "intercepted" 410 migrants and
"detected" 4 facilitators. "RIO II" (24 April - 21 May 2002), which also included non-EU
states, reported 4,597 "interceptions", "34 incidents on the facilitation of migrants" and the
"detection of 30 individual facil

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