The heads of Europol and Frontex signed an agreement to expand their cooperation in combatting cross-border criminal activities by exchanging information, including personal data of suspected criminals, and jointly planning operational activities. Europol Director Rob Wainwright and Executive Director Leggeri signed the agreement during a ceremony in Brussels.
Under the new agreement, Frontex will be able to send personal data of suspected criminals to Europol. The transfer of personal data will be limited to information gathered by Member States during operations coordinated by Frontex about people suspected of being involved in cross-border criminal activities.
Europol and Frontex also agreed to cooperate in the planning and implementation of operational activities towards the common objective of preventing and combatting cross border criminal activities. The agencies will share strategic and operational information.
This agreement replaces the strategic cooperation agreement of 2008. The agencies contribute to each other’s projects, and in particular to each other’s risk/threat assessments and also exchange media monitoring reports and products on a regular basis.
Europol and Frontex, along with EASO and Eurojust, have jointly developed the concept of European Regional Task Force (EURTF) – a shared office where the representatives of these agencies work together to coordinate the EU assistance to the national authorities facing massive migratory pressure. They assist in the identification, registration and return as well as criminal investigations of people-smuggling networks which takes place either in the ports or in specific reception centres.
An EURTF office in Catania, Sicily, was opened in June 2015 and one in Piraeus, Greece, is expected to become operational in January 2016.