Why is there a need for Europol?

Cross-border crime is nothing new. States have had to deal with cross-border crime such as smuggling, political insurgency and trade in outlawed products and drugs for centuries, and yet cross-border policing has only really taken off in the past fifteen years. Despite valuable contributions by Interpol which has been in existence since 1923, there has been, on the whole, an unwillingness on behalf of states to engage in cross-border co-operative regimes for a variety of reasons ranging from the “bothersome[1]” concept of sovereignty, to national legal variations and a certain degree of tolerance of the inevitability of cross-border crime. 

Integration within Europe has illustrated, however, that co-operation across borders can and does succeed, and co-operative regimes such as Schengen have proven this to be the case. In many ways the motivation for Europol extends from the motivations to create Schengen. The Single European Act of 1985 aimed to create four freedoms with Europe, that of freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. Tupman notes that to create a community in which these four freedoms could be observed it implied a removal of border controls[2]. Allied to the removal of frontier controls were measures to create a cross-border database, the Schengen Information System (SIS), in which data could be stored and accessed by law enforcement agencies across the EEC to help combat crime. Schengen and SIS, however, had no operational powers. While Schengen certainly helped in the fight against cross-border crime, it also aided their activities in removing border controls.  

For further discussion on the need for Europol follow this link to an online fact sheet.

[1] Waltz, KN, ‘Theory of International Politics’, 1st ed. (Maine, McGraw-Hill, 1979) p94

[2] Tupman, B, 'Policing in Europe, Uniform in Diversity (Exeter, Intellect, 1999). p88