The Europol Convention, which came into force on 1 October 1998, provided the legal basis for Europol. Although the establishment of Europol was foreseen in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, Europol is not a ‘classic‘ EU agency. It was founded as an international organisation with its own legal acquis, funded directly by contributions from the EU Member States.

The Convention was amended three times by protocols, all of which entered into force in 2007. The first protocol, signed in 2000, substantially expanded Europol’s mandate to include money laundering offences, as long as the predicate offence falls into Europol’s competence.

This led to Europol creating a more efficient network for detecting and seizing assets and interrupting criminal networks. The second protocol, from 2002, established the basis for Europol’s participation in joint investigation teams (see above) and the third (Danish) protocol, signed in 2003, allowed for third states with a Europol operational cooperation agreement to become associated to AWFs. In 2008 a total of 36 association agreements were concluded, with the result that third states were active in all but one of the AWFs.

In 2007, the Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed in principle that the Europol Convention should be replaced by a Council Decision. That would mean that Europol would be financed from the Community budget, and be subject to the EC Financial and Staff Regulations. This would align Europol with other bodies and agencies in the Justice and Home Affairs pillar of the EU.

The text of the Decision received political approval on 24 June 2008 and was ultimately adopted by the Council on 6 April 2009. The change in the legal basis has led to an extension of Europol’s mandate and tasks, and improvements in data processing and protection as well as in Europol’s operational and administrative capabilities in general.

To ensure that the Council Decision was implemented in the best possible way, Europol instigated an internal Europol Council Decision (ECD) Programme. The programme implemented the Decision while safeguarding Europol’s operational capabilities.

The new legal framework came into force on 1 January 2010 when Europol became an EU Agency, under the direction of Rob Wainwright, the current Europol Director.

In June 2011, Europol moved to a brand new Headquarters, designed and purpose-built especially for Europol. The new building is located at Eiserhowerlaan 73 in The Hague.