The agreement between Switzerland and Europol, the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU), improves cooperation between police authorities in the prevention and fight against serious and organised international crime and terrorism. It facilitates the secure and rapid exchange of strategic and operational information as well as analytical collaboration. The agreement also enables the Swiss authorities and Europol to share expertise, participate in training activities, and to consult and provide mutual support in specific investigations.
Europol, the European Police Office, helps the law enforcement authorities of EU Member States to prevent and combat all forms of serious international and organised crime, cybercrime and terrorism. The agency, which is based in the Hague, facilitates cross-border police cooperation by sharing, storing and analysing police data. Europol provides operational and strategic analyses, reports and expertise, as well as technical support for specific investigations and operations.
Cooperation between Switzerland and Europol
Switzerland's cooperation agreement with Europol, which has been in force since 2006, provides for various forms of collaboration for cases of serious crime. It also entitles Switzerland to set up a liaison office at Europol headquarters in The Hague, where four police attachés and an attachée from the Federal Office for Customs and Border Security (FOCBS) are currently stationed.
Switzerland's police cooperation with Europol complements its overall cooperation with the EU's Member States as well as its global cooperation within the INTERPOL framework. The cooperation with Europol covers the eight crime areas originally set out by the EU agency: terrorism, trafficking in nuclear and radioactive substances, trafficking of human beings, people smuggling, drug trafficking, motor vehicle crime, forgery of money and other means of payment, and money laundering if related to one of the aforementioned offences. Other areas have been added to the agreement since 2008, including murder, organ trafficking, kidnapping and hostage-taking, organised robbery, product piracy, arms trafficking and corruption.
Switzerland's agreement with Europol also contains a number of provisions to ensure data protection, making it compliant with the obligation under the Swiss constitution to protect a person's privacy. On 1 May 2017, a new legal basis for Europol (known as the Europol Regulation) entered into force, which now also includes genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and a number of economic crimes. The extended cooperation agreement between Switzerland and Europol was adopted by the Federal Council and came into effect on 1 October 2018.
Global cooperation key to investigations
Increasing mobility and networking also benefit criminals, which is why international cooperation is essential for police authorities. Switzerland's close cooperation with Europol ensures that many of its investigations are concluded successfully. The exchange of information between Europol and Swiss authorities is growing steadily and currently amounts to 27,208 operational reports (2022), mainly in the areas of human trafficking and smuggling, drug trafficking, cybercrime, fraud and other forms of serious crime as well as terrorism. One of Europol's key areas of expertise is in the field of analysis, for which there are a number of exchange platforms that Switzerland also takes part in – including human trafficking, child pornography, illegal immigration, cybercrime, payment card fraud, organised crime networks and terrorism.
Switzerland has also been working with Eurojust, the EU's agency for judicial cooperation in criminal matters, since 2008.
The agreement with Eurojust complements and expands on the agreement with Europol in terms of international cooperation on combating cross-border crime.
- Second enlargement of the area of implementation (1 October)
- First enlargement of the area of implementation (1 January)
- Agreement comes into force (1 March)
- Approval by Parliament (7 October)
- Signing of the agreement (24 September)
Texts of the agreement
Agreement between the Swiss Confederation and the European Police Office (2004)
Exchanges of letters between Switzerland and Europol concerning an extension of their cooperation
Europol: Federal Office of Police fedpol