Europol and the Policing of International Terrorism

Mathieu Deflem, University of South Carolina

This presentation reports from research on the organization of counter-terroris policing strategies in the European Police Office (Europol). Data are based on interviews with personnel at the Europol headqauatyers in The Hague in the Spring of 2003 and additional analysis of relevant archival sources. In 1998, the Council of European Union Ministers formally approved an extension of Duropol's mandate to include counter-terrorism. A separate Task Force Terrorism was consequently set up, which since 9/11 has taken on special significance. Based on a theoretical model developed in my prior work on international policing, I argue that Europol's TaskForce Terrorism is characterized by a high degree of institutional autonomy to determine the means and objectives of its anti-terrorist programs ont he basis of professional expertise. The objectives of anti-terrorist policing are thereby (re-)defined in a language that can be shared among various police institutions. Moreover, I argue that despite the fact that international police work involves cooperation with police of other nations and relies on shared standards of policing, nationally and, more broadly, regionally variable concerns of police agencies remain paramount. In the context of Europol, this persistence of nationality/regionalism implies that anti-terrorist objectives will harmonize with distinctly European interests in the global fight against terrorism and, furthermore, that there may eist variation in stated objectives among the participating police forces of the EU nations.

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Updated 05/20/2006