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17 June 2011

European co-operation meeting at INTERPOL seeks to use global approach to boost Europe's security

LYON, France – Extending areas of co-operation between INTERPOL and the European Union (EU) against transnational crime was the focus of Thursday's meeting between Europe’s Article 36 Committee (CATS) and INTERPOL at the world police body's General Secretariat headquarters.

Talks between the EU representatives – involving delegations from the current Hungarian EU Presidency, the General Secretariat of the Council of the EU, the European External Action Service, the EU Home Affairs Commission, the forthcoming Polish EU Presidency, Europol and Eurojust – and INTERPOL focused on the need for a global and integrated approach against transnational crime, with INTERPOL using its global reach to address external threats to the region.

The meeting reviewed a number of priority issues, including: drugs trafficking from West Africa to Europe, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, counterfeit medical products and pharmaceutical crime, stolen and lost travel documents, and stolen works of art, as well as interoperability between information systems.

The role of the INTERPOL Travel Document in facilitating the travel of its officers and other international experts working on behalf of the Organization, thus rendering INTERPOL’s assistance to its member countries quicker and more efficient, also topped the agenda.

"Our cooperation is crucial for security in Europe and beyond," said INTERPOL  Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

"As clearly stated in EU Commissioner Malmström’s Interior Security Strategy and Action Plan, a global and integrated approach to security is today the only way to effectively protect citizens in Europe and all over the world," added  Mr Noble.
 
With the INTERPOL Chief saying that cooperation was yielding concrete results in the joint fight against transnational crime affecting Europe and the world, the meeting heard how in the case of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia, the partnership between INTERPOL’s Maritime Piracy Task Force with Europol and with the EU's Atalanta naval force through INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau in London, as well as with NATO and other partners, now enabled efficient and productive sharing of information at the global level.

Following the investigation on the hijacking of Belgian flagged ship Pompei by Somali Pirates from April to September 2009, the first INTERPOL Red Notice for maritime piracy was issued, containing fingerprints of suspects, and circulated to all of  INTERPOL's 188 member countries. It led to the location and arrest in the United Arab Emirates of a man suspected of playing a role in the negotiation and ransom payment phase. 

With the screening against INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document database of the passports of travellers entering the EU another example of how INTERPOL helps strengthen security in Europe, and with only 17 of the 27 European Member States having installed INTERPOL’s MIND/FIND system at border points to enable the systematic screening of all travellers, Mr Noble urged all European countries to fully implement this system which gives its users access to data on more than 28 million records shared by 158 INTERPOL member countries.

Senior officials at the meeting included Mr Pierre Reuland, Special Representative of INTERPOL to the European Union, whose office in Brussels serves to strengthen law enforcement co-operation with the EU.