Since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC (2001), Madrid (2004) and London (2005), the European Union (EU) has stepped up its efforts to develop new instruments and reinforce existing ones to fight terrorism jointly. One of the key aspects of the EU-wide fight against terrorism and serious crime is the facilitation and enforcement of information and intelligence exchange among law enforcement authorities and, to a limited extent, security and intelligence services. This article examines how far the EU’s commitment to democracy, accountability and transparency is actually fulfilled with respect to its efforts at fighting terrorism by drawing on the example of the activities of the European Police Office (Europol). Taking the European Parliament (EP) and National Parliaments (NPs), but also inter-parliamentary forums, into account, the article analyses how, and to what extent, mechanisms of democratic accountability and, in particular, parliamentary scrutiny are in place to hold EU-wide counter-terrorism actors, such as Europol, to account. This is a particularly timely question given that Europol’s parliamentary scrutiny procedures are currently subject to considerable changes due to the change in its legal mandate as of 1 January 2010 and the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.
Europol; Counter-terrorism; EU internal security; Parliamentary scrutiny; Democratic accountability; Rendition
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