BRUSSELS, Belgium – The EU Council on Monday adopted EU rules to make it easier for national law enforcement authorities to exchange information and fight crime more effectively. Under the new rules, member states in possession of information concerning a serious criminal offence must make this available to other member states’ law enforcement authorities.
“This new EU law is a crucial tool to fight crime in the EU. In an area without borders like the EU, where people can freely travel from one country to another, swift cross-border information exchanges between the police and other law enforcement authorities are indispensable, “ said Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish minister for justice.
Equivalent access to information
The information exchange directive which ministers adopted today lays down the principle that foreign police bodies should be able to access information related to criminal offences available in another country under the same conditions as law enforcement authorities of that country.
Single contact points
Member states will have a single point of contact (SPOC), which will be operational 24/7, for information exchanges with other EU countries. The directive also stipulates the deadlines for making information available to police authorities of another country. In certain urgent cases, the requested information should be made available within eight hours.
Streamlined communication channels
The new EU law will also remedy the current proliferation of communication channels used for law enforcement information exchanges between member states (which hinders the adequate and rapid exchange of such information and increases the risks concerning the security of personal data).
This is why relevant authorities will be obliged to use Europol’s secure information exchange network application (SIENA) – a platform which enables the swift and user-friendly exchange of operational and strategic crime-related information.
Background and next steps
Evaluations of the current rules on cross-border information exchange between EU member states on criminal matters have pointed at a lack of clarity that impedes an efficient flow of information.
For this reason, in December 2021 the Commission presented a proposal for a directive on information exchange between law enforcement authorities. The Council agreed its position on this proposal at the meeting of home affairs ministers on 10 June 2022. On 29 November 2022, the Council and European Parliament wrapped up its negotiations and reached an agreement on the final text.
Member states have 18 months from the entry into force of the directive to transpose it into national law (the provision on secure communication channel has to be transposed 4 years after entry into force).