Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on the Europol
The European Police Office, Europol, is an EU Agency whose function, according to article 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is to support and strengthen action by the Member States’ police authorities and other law enforcement services and their mutual cooperation in preventing and combating serious crime, including terrorism.
Likewise, the aforementioned article establishes that the Regulation governing Europol shall also lay down the procedures for scrutiny of Europol’s activities by the European Parliament, together with national Parliaments.
In accordance with the said mandate, article 51 of the Europol Regulation in force (Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of May 11, 2016) envisages the setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) made up of representatives of the national parliaments and the relevant Committee of the European Parliament which shall be governed by its internal regulation.
According to the conclusions adopted in the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments held on 23-25 April, 2017, each national parliament shall appoint up to 4 representatives before the JPSG. As regards bicameral parliaments, such as the Cortes Generales, each Chamber may appoint up to two members before this scrutiny body. The European Parliament, in turn, shall be represented by up to 16 members.
The JPSG shall meet twice per year: the first meeting (during the first half of the year) shall take place in in the Member Stated holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU and the second (during the second semester of the year) shall be held in the European Parliament. The sittings shall be co-chaired by a representative of the national Parliament of the Member State holding the rotating presidency and by a representative of the European Parliament.
The JPSG is tasked with political monitoring of Europol’s activities in fulfilling its mission, including the impact of those activities on the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons.
To this end, the Chairperson of Europol’s Management Board, the Executive Director or their Deputies shall appear before the JPSG at its request to discuss, among other matters, the budgetary aspects of the Agency or the potential establishment of new units and specialized centres. The JPSG may decide to invite other relevant persons to its meetings, where appropriate.
Likewise, the European Supervisor for Data Protection, at his/her own demand and at least once a year, shall appear before the JPSG to discuss general matters concerning the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons with regards to Europol’s activities.
The JPSG shall be consulted in relation to the multiannual programming of Europol, a document which, together with those listed in article 51 of the Europol Regulation, shall be conveyed to the JPSG for information purposes. The scrutiny body may also request the Agency other relevant documents necessary for the fulfilment of its tasks.
Finally, the JPSG may draw up conclusions on the political monitoring of Europol’s activities and submit those conclusions to the European Parliament and to national parliaments.