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Europol is headed by a Director, who is Europol’s legal representative and is appointed by the Council of the European Union.

Europol’s current Director is Rob Wainwright, who joined in 2009.

The Director is assisted by three Deputy Directors:

Europol staff members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and nations, more details of which can be found on Staff Statistics page.

On 1 January 2010 Europol became a full EU agency and below you can see the current organisational structure.

Europol Organisation Chart

Europol Organisation Chart



We will fulfil our commitments through the efforts of our staff. In line with our mission and vision, we attach importance to the following five values which best characterise the culture of Europol and the work of its people:

  • Integrity 
  • Accountability 
  • Initiative 
  • Teamwork 
  • Effectiveness

The Europol Values underline that we are fully committed to the EU public service principles.

As the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol’s mission is to support its Member States in preventing and combating all forms of serious international crime and terrorism.

Its role is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens by supporting law enforcement authorities through the exchange and analysis of criminal intelligence.

Europol’s Strategy 2010-2014 is the frame of reference for its daily business, in order to ensure the best support for EU law enforcement cooperation.

Following this ambitious strategy, Europol will address the most important challenges ahead, but will also exploit all opportunities to make further progress and deliver tangible benefits. The strategy guides Europol on a planned path to implementing its main goals and vision, delivering a unique set of operational services for the EU in three main areas:

•  To function as the principal EU support centre for law enforcement operations

More will be done to maximise the operational value of information held by Europol and to streamline the delivery of analysis and other operational services. Europol is taking a leading role in establishing more effective cooperation between agencies and law enforcement partners, including Eurojust and Interpol.

•  To become the criminal information hub of the European Union

Cooperation between Member States, in identifying common information gaps and investigation priorities is essential and will be strengthened. Europol’s unique capabilities provide the opportunity to grow as a central information hub in the EU, to address these issues, and build an information platform capable of facilitating a more effective operational response to key security threats. Further development of Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA) will bring Europol closer to the law enforcement ‘front line’.

•  To develop further as an EU centre for law enforcement expertise

Europol pioneers new techniques based on innovation and best practice as well as facilitating knowledge sharing and quality training in specialist areas, such as euro counterfeiting, terrorism and the dismantling of drug laboratories.

We will address any gaps in knowledge and expertise by developing and promoting best practice. Assisting Member States through support, advice and research in the areas of training, technical support, crime prevention, technical and forensic methods and analysis, and investigative procedures.


We will achieve each of our goals over the next five years by working towards a number of multi-annual strategic objectives, each of which implements different aspects of the overall goal. The strategic objectives will be fully reflected and further detailed for each calendar year in Europol’s annual Work Programmes.

Implementation of the Strategy will be monitored via the performance management and reporting mechanisms established in the annual Work Programmes and, additionally, through progress reports submitted to the Management Board twice per year.

Work Programmes
PDF document 2015  | 2014  |  2013  |  2012   |  2011   |  2010



Europol has gained an improved position on the EU stage in the last couple of years, partly thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, its new legal status (the Europol Council Decision (ECD)), and the agency’s own strategy and improved capabilities. These developments make Europol a unique cooperation partner for EU law enforcement agencies and also an important contributor to the EU decision-making process.

In 2011, Europol’s Management Board agreed to a single evaluation of the Europol Council Decision implementation and Europol’s activities. This is being carried out to comply with Article 37(11) of the ECD and to support the production of the European Commission’s impact assessment before drawing up their proposal for the future draft Europol Regulation. The Management Board has appointed a Steering Committee, which consists of the Management Board Chairperson and the Management Board members from Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and the European Commission. The Director of Europol is also involved in the work of the Committee as an observer.

Following a procurement procedure the evaluator, RAND Europe, was selected by the Management Board and a contract was signed in August 2011. Interviews are being conducted with Europol officials and relevant stakeholders. RAND Europe submitted a first interim report in November 2011 and their final report in June 2012. The Management Board will discuss the evaluation results and then submit recommendations to the European Commission.

As a leading EU law enforcement agency, Europol is always looking ahead for opportunities to streamline the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Such new opportunities have been identified and include a need to:

  • Enable more effective investigations on cybercrime, supported by centralised EU expertise and resources
  • Explore better cooperation with the private sector to make greater use of expertise on issues like cybercrime, money laundering and intellectual property crime.

In March 2012, the European Commission proposed the establishment of a new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol in The Hague, which will become the focal point in the EU’s fight against cybercrime. The Centre, which will be operational by 1 January 2013, will pool expertise and information, support criminal investigations and promote EU-wide solutions, while raising awareness of cybercrime issues across the Union.

BIRTH OF AN IDEA, 1991-1998


The idea of establishing some form of cooperation between European police forces to tackle transnational crime is as old as the notion of European unity itself. The first move towards informal cooperation was taken in the 1970s, with the setting up of the Trevi group by European Communities’ interior and justice ministers. Trevi’s initial concern was to address international terrorism, but it soon extended its focus of attention to cover other areas of cross-border crime within the European Community.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were frequent calls from within and outside the Trevi group to formalise police cooperation within the Community. The first concrete reference to a European police force is usually attributed to Helmut Kohl. In 1991, at the European Summit in Luxembourg, the German chancellor called for a European police agency to be set up along the lines of the American FBI. The proposal generated a discussion among Community members about how best to tackle crime and guarantee security, sowing the seeds of Europe-wide police cooperation.

MAASTRICHT TREATY: THE ‘FOUNDING ARTICLE’Photo: European Commision: Signing of the Maastricht Treaty, 7 February 1992

The idea was given more substance in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on the European Union, which made Justice and Home Affairs one of the three pillars of the new EU. Article K1 (9) of the Treaty provided for police cooperation between member states to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and other international crime, and made explicit reference to a European Police Office (Europol).


The European Council took the first step towards formalising European police cooperation in 1993 with the formation of the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). The EDU, which started operating in January 1994, had no powers of arrest, but was mandated to assist national police forces in criminal investigations. With a small staff and one or two liaison oficers from each Member State, the EDU supported a growing number of Member States’ operations. Its mandate expanded to include other areas of transnational crime, including terrorism, motor vehicle crime and organised crime, paving the way for the creation of a fully-fledged European police office.


On 29 October 1993, the European Council decided that Europol should be established in The Hague. The city had a long tradition of involvement in international law and order, and was home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Today, Europol is one of a wide range of international law and justice organisations located in the ‘legal capital of the world’, including Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial cooperation, and the International Criminal Court. Europol was housed in a former Catholic boys’ school dating from the 1920s. The building had been used in the Second World War by the police and intelligence services, and was occupied by the Dutch State Intelligence Service after the war. The intelligence service remained in the building until a few months before Europol took it over in 1994. In 2011, Europol moved into a brand new headquarters in The Hague.


The Convention establishing Europol under Article K3 of the Maastricht Treaty was agreed in 1995 and, after ratification by the Member States, came into force on 1 October 1998. The Convention specified what Europol should be, what it should do, and how it should do it. Under the Convention each Member State was required to designate a national unit to liaise between its own competent authorities and Europol. The national units would second at least one liaison officer to Europol headquarters to represent the interests of their national authorities and to facilitate the flow of information in both directions.


In the second half of the 1990s, the European Union underwent a series of changes, which also affected Europol. In 1995, the number of EU Member States increased from 12 to 15, with the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden.

In 1997, the Treaty of Amsterdam was signed, amending the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on the European Union. In the new Treaty the EU’s ‘third pillar’, Justice and Home Affairs, was trimmed down to focus on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Its overall aim was to’create ‘an area of freedom, security and justice’.

The Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the Schengen Agreements into EU law. The two Schengen Agreements, originallyPhoto: European Commision, Signing of the Amsterdam Treaty, 2 October 1997 dating from 1985 and 1990, essentially abolished internal borders between the signatory states. When the Agreements became part of the EU Acquis Communautaire, they had been signed by all EU Member States except the UK and Ireland, and by two non-EU states, Iceland and Norway.

The Schengen Agreements made it easier for criminals and criminal organisations to operate internationally and move from one European state to another. They therefore included provisions on cross-border police and judicial cooperation to ensure that criminals could not ‘disappear’ by moving from one country to another. The amended text of the Treaty of Amsterdam, incorporating these provisions, gave Europol a central role in coordinating police cooperation within the Union. The Amsterdam Treaty made the first mention of what were later to become Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). The idea was picked up and further elaborated at the European Council in Tampere, Finland, in October 1999. The Council’s conclusions called for ‘joint investigative teams to be set up without delay, as a first step, to combat trafficking in drugs and human beings as well as terrorism’. JITs were later to become pivotal in Europol’s activities.

At Tampere, the EU moved closer to an institutional approach to internal security matters. In addition to strengthening the role of Europol, it also decided to set up Eurojust to improve judicial cooperation and a European Police Chiefs Task Force to coordinate policing at operational level.



Robert Williams

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Robert Williams

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