Written Answers. - Establishment of Europol.

Ivor Callely

Question:

155 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice the progress, if any, that has been made towards the setting up of Europol; the benefits, if any, of such an EU service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1985/94]

Significant progress has been made in the efforts to agree the draft text of the Europol Convention under Title VI of the European Union Treaty. A further round of discussions between officials of the member states of the Union took place in Brussels last week. I am hopeful that progress will continue to be made so as to enable early signature of the Convention to take place. The Europol Drugs Unit, set up by Ministerial agreement, is already operational and carrying out excellent work.

The benefits of Europol will be of considerable importance to citizens of the Union arising as they will from the greater co-operation between police forces which will be brought about by implementation of the Convention, and in particular from the pooling of intelligence information from the various national central police units. This co-operation and pooling of information will, it is hoped, prove effective especially in the combating of illegal drugs trafficking and organised crime.

In conclusion, I should add that the Government is committed to the concept of international co-operation and pooling of intelligence in the fight against criminality. Drug traffickers and organised criminals do not have particular regard to international boundaries in their nefarious activities and it behoves governments of the Union to ensure that the existence of such boundaries does not hinder the efforts of the Garda Síochána and their counterparts in Europe in their common action against wrongdoers.