Mossos in the Europol: What does the law actually say?
The European police agency regulations foresee "direct contacts" with competent authorities such as the Catalan police corps but Spain has not allowed it yet
The Catalan police, or “Mossos d'Esquadra”, do not have direct contacts with the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, despite this being a long-standing demand from Barcelona's authorities. The Spanish vice president, Soraya Saénz de Santamaría, seemed to justify this exclusion on Tuesday by citing the agency's "own regulations".
"We need to pay attention to what the regulations and management of Europol allows us to do," she argued when questioned by journalists about the issue. But a spokeswoman for Europol said in comments to ACN that "it is not for Europol to participate in this debate" as this is exclusively "a national issue, within Spain".
The Spanish vice president's words, in fact, were in direct contradiction with the actual Europol regulations, which state very clearly that choosing who should be in direct touch with Europol is a prerogative of each Member State. "The Member States may allow direct contact between their competent authorities and Europol," states Article 7, paragraph 5 of the regulations. Mossos, as the general police force in Catalonia and the one that dealt with last weeks' attacks, is a competent authority and as such could be swiftly granted access albeit "subject to conditions determined" by Spain.
"The Member States may allow direct contact between their competent authorities and Europol"
Europol regulation · Article 7.5
The Europol regulations state that "any information exchanged in the course of the direct contacts" shall be sent, as well, to the national unit, in this case, the Spanish police. But the regulations are even so flexible as to foresee this not happening if "the national unit indicates that it does not need to receive such information."
A more urgent demand after the attacks
The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, said that "it is now obvious" that the demand to have direct contacts with Europol "makes complete sense." The Spanish minister of home affairs, Juan Ignacio Zoido, promised that the Mossos would have access to Europol “soon”, and a meeting to discuss the issue is scheduled for September.
Some, however, think that Catalonia cannot afford to wait any longer. Ramon Tremosa, a Member of the European Parliament, said in comments to the ACN that the Catalan police should have direct access to Europol databases "immediately" in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks. "It is a very important security issue for everyone. We should not accept any more excuses or statements such as the ones made by Saénz de Santamaría," he said.