Bosnia and Herzegovina establishes full cooperation with Europol

Bosnia and Herzegovina has now established full cooperation with the EU’s Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) with the opening of new premises of the National/Joint Contact Point of BiH in the Greece–Bosnia and Herzegovina Friendship Building, which houses the BiH Ministry of Security.

This is an important milestone for Bosnia and Herzegovina, enabling direct cooperation between Europol and all law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the deployment of BiH liaison officer to Europol in The Hague. This will greatly contribute to BiH’s efforts in strengthening the prevention and fight against organised crime and corruption, which is one of 14 key priorities of European Commission’s Opinion on BiH’s application for EU membership.

BiH Minister of Security Nenad Nešić said, “This process lasted 10 years, but still, this is a great milestone for all of us. All of us together, with the help and support of the Delegation of the European Union, with this achievement, we have achieved a lot for BiH, both in the sphere of security and as a candidate for membership in to the European Union. This shows that we all have and play an important role in the realisation of the 14 key priorities listed in the Opinion of the European Commission. We expect that the fulfillment of this priority will be a strong incentive for further progress in the process of accession to the European Union, the most important goal we are striving for. Through international police cooperation, which is a priority of our country, through the Point of Contact, where all competent authorities and institutions are visible and have their role, we strengthen both internal trust, as well as trust and cooperation with other nations and states”.

The Deputy Director General of the Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs at the European Commission Olivier Onidi said, “Today we are witnessing a major step in the strengthening of our common security, BiH and the EU taking another step in integrating their response to terrorism and criminal activities”.

The Head of the EU Delegation/EU Special Representative in BiH Johann Sattler said, “I am glad that law enforcement agencies in Bosnia and Herzegovina have joined the EUROPOL family! The world today is increasingly interconnected, and this includes criminal activity. This is why cross-border law enforcement cooperation is so crucial. With the Europol Contact Point now fully up and running, this will enhance the sharing of vital information that will lead to a stronger fight against economic crime, terrorism, cybercrime, human and drug trafficking and the exploitation of children”.

Having established full cooperation with Europol, BiH law enforcement authorities will have full access to Europol analytical tools and databases and this will make it easier for law enforcement agencies in the EU and BiH to exchange valuable operational information.

The Deputy Executive Director of Operations at Europol, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe said, “Bosnia and Herzegovina is a key partner in the fight against cross-border crime and we work closely to address serious criminal threats, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europol will jointly benefit from the establishment of a National Contact Point. We look forward to welcoming a Liaison Officer from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who will join the large network of national authorities represented at Europol’s headquarters. This development enables Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europol to work even more closely together to combat international crime and to build a safe and secure society for all our citizens”.

The Coordinator of the National/Joint BiH Contact Point for Cooperation with EUROPOL Irena Marelja said, “The contact point currently consists of 16 police officers, therefore, representatives of all police agencies of Bosnia and Herzegovina are in one place. It is new for all of us, for the first time we are working in such an environment, and to be honest, it gives us a sense of success, to have all the police agencies available in one place. Together, we overcame the initial challenges of establishing this youngest state and police body, while new ones are just around the corner. But in order to continue this process and meet the set expectations, we need continuous cooperation and support in strengthening this body, to effectively respond to the challenges of the modern world and manage security risks, as a hub for timely exchange of information with Europol”.

The EU has continuously advocated for and supported the operationalisation of the Contact Point, including assisting in the drafting of the rules of procedure, refurbishing the new premises and donating IT equipment necessary for its work.