Full cooperation between the EU’s Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (EUROPOL) and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s law enforcement agencies is now closer to being realised with the signature of the Rulebook on the operation of the National/Joint Contact Point for cooperation with EUROPOL. A signing ceremony to mark this step was organised today by the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and attended by BiH Minister of Security Nenad Nešić, the Head of EU Delegation to BiH and EU Special Representative to BiH, Ambassador Johann Sattler, and the Head of Unit for Strategy and External Relations at EUROPOL Patrícia Silveira, as well as entity and cantonal ministers of interior, directors of state-level law enforcement agencies and the Chief of Brčko District Police.
“Crime does not stop at borders and cross-border law enforcement cooperation is key for the safety and security of citizens across Europe. I am glad that BiH has taken one step closer to full cooperation with EUROPOL. As an EU candidate country, Bosnia and Herzegovina is expected to demonstrate a credible track record in tackling organised crime and corruption. By fully implementing the EUROPOL Agreement, and later by concluding agreements on EUROJUST and FRONTEX, Bosnia and Herzegovina will start making full use of European instruments to step up the fight against serious crime. This will bring benefits for BiH citizens, as well as represent a step forward on the path to the EU”, said Ambassador Sattler.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the Western Balkans without an operational contact point for cooperation with EUROPOL. Putting into full operation the Contact Point will allow direct cooperation between EUROPOL and all police bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and it will enable the deployment of a BiH liaison officer to EUROPOL to The Hague, which will be a major step forward in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. It will also enable the sharing of information on criminals through the EUROPOL Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA) system, including the SIENA database on counter-terrorism.
“Although it is the only country in the Western Balkans that has not established full cooperation with EUROPOL through a Joint Contact Point, Bosnia and Herzegovina attaches a particular importance to international police cooperation due to the interests of internal security, especially as this area has a key role for our country’s EU accession. We are convinced that EUROPOL, as a centre for law enforcement support and a hub for exchanging information on criminal activities, will make our country safer and closer to the family of European countries,” said Nešić.
The EU continues to support the operationalisation of the Contact Point through the ongoing refurbishment of the premises that will host it, and the donation of IT equipment necessary for the operation of the Contact Point, which will be delivered under an IPA-funded project. The Ministry of Security has committed to transfer the SIENA servers allowing the operational work of the Joint Contact Point to begin in May 2023.
“We must together combat international criminal threats to achieve a safe and secure society for all our citizens. Joining forces has become more important than ever. Therefore, it remains a top priority for Europol to step up cooperation with all countries in the region,” said Ms. Silveira.