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Commission seeks closer ties with Latin America to tackle drug trafficking

Catherine De Bolle, on the left, and Ylva Johansson
Catherine De Bolle, on the left, and Ylva Johansson Copyright © Union européenne, 2024 (CC-BY 4.0)Jennifer Jacquemart
Copyright © Union européenne, 2024 (CC-BY 4.0)
By Romane Armangau
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Cooperation with drug exporting countries would enable Europol to access more data on illegal activities .


The European Commission will seek in its next mandate to conclude partnerships with Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru to better access to data related to drug trafficking networks, the home affairs commissioner told a conference in Brussels this week.

Ylva Johansson spoke during an "EU Versus Crime" event held to celebrate the 25th anniversary of cooperation between the EU executive and law enforcement agency Europol. She noted that similar agreements had been concluded with Australia, Canada and the US, and - more recently - with Colombia, and that negotiations with the other Latin American states are ongoing.

"Europe is safer than it was four years ago, but the world is more dangerous," Johansson said during the event. In a joint intervention, she and Europol Director Catherine De Bolle, both estimated that organised criminal networks are increasingly dangerous, international, and powerful. Europol recently conducted extensive mapping of the most threatening criminal networks. Johansson said that “it takes a network to fight a network,” underlining the need to develop international cooperation.  

Europol can do an even better job with a new mandate, more resources, more staff, more powers to fight crimes.
Ylva Johansson
Commissioner for Home Affairs

The commissioner told the meeting that the three biggest threats to Europe were organised crime, terrorism, and online predators, noting that these threats are growing. According to Johansson, there are currently 2.5 million online predators, compared to 700,000 in 2009. All these malicious actors thrive online, underscoring the necessity to develop “the right skills and the right tools. We need appropriate resources, and we need to access data” to counter their acts. 

Access to data remains a thorny subject for the Commission, which has proposed giving authorities access to users' encrypted conversations on platforms to combat the sharing of child abuse imagery online. The proposal has been criticised by defenders of online civil rights, and its legality called into question by the EU Council Legal Service. “We must find the right balance between privacy and security, and we are not there yet,” Johansson told the meeting, adding that "in the next mandate, it's necessary to find a solution for lawful access to data”. 

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