This chapter on Europol examines the agency’s development and the possible impact of its assistance and intelligence service on national law enforcement authorities. This analysis takes place against the background that Europol was not designed to be a ‘European FBI’ or a cross-border ‘bluecoat’ police force, but was rather formed with a view to facilitate data exchange and to provide intelligence support. Thereby, it will highlight the EU agency’s potential to shape European criminal policy through its mandate to collect, search and analyse large amounts of data, and its impact on the harmonization of cross-border law enforcement. Despite the EU Member States’ plan to designate Europol as an assistance unit only, its mere existence has incited much debate on a number of issues relating to justice and home affairs over the last two decades, including the debate an the EU’s mandate in crime control, discussions on the political and judicial accountability of European agencies, and more recently, the struggle surrounding data security and privacy in the age of data mining as a means of combating terrorism and other forms of transnational crime. The establishment of the European Cybercrime Centre is arguably a logical first step in a truly European response to new types of cross-border crime, but it brings with it new challenges as well.
In national criminal justice systems, defence rights have been developed and consolidated over the centuries in order to balance the state’s ius puniendi with the individual’s interests that are adversely affected by criminal prosecution. Among these principles is the right not to be tried twice for the same conduct – the so-called ne bis in idem principle. In international criminal law stricto sensu (ICL) most of these rights have been accepted within decades, including the right not to be tried twice for the same conduct. Yet, ne bis in idem is rarely accepted in transnational settings, when states join forces to fight crime closely cooperating with each other. The chapter argues the case for the defendant who has a legitimate interest to be granted the right not to be tried twice, regardless of whether he or she is tried in a purely national jurisdiction, by an international tribunal or by way of ‘transnational proceedings’.