Frequently asked questions

General Information

  • No. Europol has no executive powers.

    The European Police Office is a support service for the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States. This means that Europol officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without the approval of national authorities. However, the support provided by Europol consists of tools that can contribute to the executive measures carried out by the relevant national authorities.

  • Europol supports the law enforcement activities of the Member States by:

    • facilitating the exchange of information between Europol and Europol Liaison Officers (ELOs). These ELOs are seconded to Europol by the Member States as representatives of their national law enforcement agencies, thus they are not under the command of Europol and its Director as such. Furthermore, they act in accordance with their national law.
    • providing operational analysis and support to Member States’ operations;
    • providing expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out within the EU, under the
    • supervision and the legal responsibility of the Member States;
    • generating strategic reports (e.g. threat assessments) and crime analysis on the basis of information and intelligence supplied by Member States or gathered from other sources.
  • Yes, Europol only acts on request at present. However, Article 7 of the Europol Council Decision, allows Europol to request the competent authorities of the Member States to investigate.

  • The Justice and Home Affairs Council adopted the Council decision of 27 March 2000 (amended by the Council decision of 6 December 2001 and the Council decision of 13 June 2002) which authorises the Director of Europol to enter into negotiations on co-operation agreements with third States and non-EU related bodies.

    There are two types of co-operation agreements that can be signed. Strategic agreements are limited to the exchange of non-personal data, which means strategic and technical data. Operational agreements include the possibility to exchange personal data, which means data relating to an identified or identifiable natural person.

Reporting a crime

Europol activities

Human Resources (HR)

  • Europol offers job opportunities under contracts as Temporary Agents (TAs) and Contract Agents (CAs).

    Available Temporary Agent posts may be non-restricted (open to all EU citizens) or restricted (open only to EU citizens who are members of a competent authority in the meaning of Article 2a) of the Europol Regulation). Europol also selects National Experts who are seconded by Member States, to specific fields of expertise.

    All applications must be submitted via our online recruitment system with the exception of the applications for Seconded National Expert posts that must be submitted in hardcopy via the Europol National Units.

    If you are a member of a competent authority and you are applying for a restricted or restricted annex II temporary agent post, you must ensure that being posted at Europol is in line with, and can be accommodated by, your administrative situation with your current employer. Should your application be successful, you will be required to provide evidence to that effect before you can take up the post.

    You must confirm in your application that you are currently employed by a competent authority. It is no longer necessary to provide a Europol National Unit (ENU) confirmation at the time of application. Europol will request the confirmation after the shortlisting and ONLY for shortlisted applicants. Applications submitted by other means (paper or e-mail) will not be accepted.

    In some cases, certain details of a vacancy notice will not be published for security reasons. In such cases, you should get in touch with your ENU to learn those details.

  • Yes; all non-restricted posts and the restricted-Annex II posts are open to all EU citizens.

  • So-called restricted Annex II posts may be filled without limitation to candidates coming from a competent authority, as stipulated in Annex II of the relevant decision of the Management Board of Europol of 13 December 2017. As a result, applications are invited from all EU citizens.

  • The eligibility requirement for temporary agent posts in category AD is to have a university degree. Depending on the profile (usually for IT, HR, Legal, Finance), we might indicate a certain preference for a specialisation in IT, law, business, HR or financial management, but this is not an eliminatory requirement.

  • No; EU citizenship is an eligibility criterion.

  • The Staff Regulations do not impose an age limit for a candidate who would like to apply for a vacancy at Europol – although they ‘have to be physically fit to perform the duties’ and would have to retire at pensionable age (66 years old if one entered the service on or after 01/01/2014).

  • The eligibility criteria need to be fulfilled; otherwise your application cannot be considered.
     Regarding the essential selection criteria:

    • if they are quantitative – for e.g. we ask at least 5 years of experience in a certain area and you only have  1 year of experience you can assume that the Selection Committee will consider those applicants who have at least the 5 years required.
    • if it’s a qualitative selection criterion that you doubt or might underestimate, you may consider applying and let the selection panel to assess it.

    As a rule, the candidates invited further for the selection procedure, fulfil all eligibility and essential selection criteria.

  • The written test and the interviews are competency-based assessments, both held in English unless otherwise specified. The written test usually has a duration of three hours; the interview typically lasts 30-45 minutes. During the assessment you will be asked a combination of competency-based and/or situational judgement questions, based on situations that you have encountered and/or would meet as part of your daily activities, should you be successful in the selection process, as well as theoretical questions about your knowledge on the subject matter and scenarios regarding some of your general competencies (ability to draft a clear text for various audiences, keen eye for details, organisational skills, etc.).

    The interview is split into two parts: one regarding your general competencies and one regarding your technical knowledge. At the end of the interview, you may ask the Selection Committee questions yourself. The same questions are asked to all the candidates. However, you can expect also follow-up questions, based on your own answers.

  • The organisation of the written tests and of the interviews is a significant logistical effort, involving many internal and external actors. It entails booking of rooms and equipment, together with travel and accommodation arrangements. Additional arrangements are required in the case of external Selection Committee members. Not to mention that in the same time several other procedures are taking place and the planning is done taking all these factors into account. So, we really appreciate if you can keep the day/ time slot that has been assigned to you in the invitation letter. In case of force majeure, there is some flexibility in relation to the time slots, but the days have to be respected. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation on this matter.

  • Before you attend the selection procedure, you are required to submit documentary evidence of education diplomas and proof of employment. At this stage, a scanned signed PDF sent electronically is enough. On the day of the written test, however, you should bring with you either the originals – so we can certify the copies and return the originals– or officially certified copies that we get to keep.

  • Yes, please see our travel reimbursement rules that are attached to the Europol Recruitment Guidelines (Annex C, page 16).

  • It means that within the next 2 years, you are eligible to receive a job offer from Europol for the post you applied for or for a similar position, should the business opportunity arise. It is not an obligation for Europol to employ you and also you are not obliged to accept if you are unhappy with the terms and conditions of a similar vacancy.

  • Yes; a list of the basic salaries and the type of allowances you might receive is available on our website. You can also use the available Excel calculators for a more customized approach. However, the step you are allocated in and the allowances depend on the personal situation of each individual, so a more precise calculation is done when an official offer of employment is issued.

  • On our website and on LinkedIn; also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

    • Analyse before applying: make sure you fulfil the eligibility and the selection criteria, but also make sure you are actually interested in the opportunity.
    • Invest some time in writing your application: be accurate with the dates, give pertinent information, make sure that there is a connection between what we are looking for and what you can offer.
    • If you are invited, prepare for the interview and for the written test: read again the requirements, brush up on your technical knowledge, and prepare various examples from your experience that demonstrate the required competencies. And have all the required papers in order! Be on time!
  • Currently Europol has 1294 staff members (staff with employment contracts with Europol, Liaison officers from Member States and third states and organisations, Seconded National Experts, trainees and contractors), 33% of which are female and 67% male.

  • No, we do not send newsletters. We advise you to check our website regularly in order to be informed about the latest job postings. 

  • If you are applying for a Seconded National Expert post you must submit the application form (Application form for Seconded National Experts) through your Europol National Unit (ENU), which will forward it to us.

    You must confirm in your application that your application is supported by a competent national authority, and have that confirmation signed by an authorized official.

    For a position as a Seconded National Expert, you must submit the original form plus two copies, so three in total.
    When we have received your application, and if you sent it on time and everything is otherwise in order, we will send you an acknowledgement of receipt.

  • Specialized assessment centres are carried out for shortlisted candidates for middle and senior management posts (AD9 to AD15). It typically lasts one day and takes place before the interview and the written test.  

20 things you always wanted (but never dared) to ask Europol

  • We started life as the Europol Drugs Unit way back in 1993. We’re celebrating our 20th birthday this year because Europol officially came to be in 1999 when the Maastricht Treaty (Article K3, to be precise) came into force.

    In fact, 1999 was a big year for us: we published the first annual Organised Crime Trend Report, predecessor of the Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) and we launched one of our first tools for gathering, exchanging and processing information and intelligence: the catchy ‘analysis work file’ (today, ‘analysis work project’).

    In 2001, we welcomed cooperation with non-EU countries – Iceland and Norway were our first ‘third parties’. From 2010 things changed quickly for Europol, we became an EU Agency in 2010, set up the European Cybercrime Centre in 2013, the European Migrant Smuggling Centre and the European Counter Terrorism Centre both in 2016, and the European Serious and Organised Crime Centre and the EU Internet Referral Unit in 2017.

  • We have staff from all 28 EU Member States – and more! As we are active in many crime areas, countries across the globe are eager to share and benefit from our tools and expertise. In 1999, Europol had 170 staff members from 15 countries. Now the Europol building hosts around 1 400 staff members from 42 different countries.

  • Our headquarters are in The Hague in the Netherlands. But we haven’t always been based here. Back in 1993, when we were the Europol Drugs Unit, we were actually housed in makeshift containers in Strasbourg, France. We moved to more watertight premises in 1994 – an old Catholic boys’ school. With rising staff numbers, we soon outgrew that building and so have been operating out of our purpose-built headquarters since 2013.

    The international criminal landscape has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and so have our offices. We now have representations in Brussels, Lyon, Singapore and Washington DC with one or two Europol staff members stationed there.

  • Europol deals with crimes that threaten EU citizens and the common interests of the EU; this includes serious and organised crime and terrorism. In a nutshell, we make Europe safer. A simple concept, but actually challenging in practice.

    If a crime affects two or more Member States, we can assist law enforcement in joining the dots and help investigators in their work. The EU has 28 Member States, but each Member State has a number of law enforcement authorities (in the EU alone there are around 90 separate authorities). Europol brings them together to fight crime as one. This makes Europol the EU hub for criminal intelligence.

  • While the names may sound similar, Europol and INTERPOL are different, separate organisations.

    Europol sets up and coordinates cross-border operations against the most dangerous criminal groups in the EU. We facilitate direct communication between investigators from national law enforcement authorities. Europol analysts and experts support investigators in real-time and often on-the-spot while taking an active part in complex operations. In other words, we make cross-border investigations more efficient.

    INTERPOL is a global organisation, which helps law enforcement authorities across the world to improve their capacities by the exchange of information and best practices. INTERPOL is also known for its red notices (a wanted fugitive is on the run) and yellow notices (alert for a missing person).

    That doesn’t mean we don’t work together – we collaborate on different operations and host an annual joint cybercrime conference.

  • Sorry to shatter the illusion, but it’s not like in the movies. Europol staff members do not have the power to arrest suspected criminals. Instead, our analysts provide valuable information to national authorities, so they can shut down criminal groups, identify perpetrators and arrest them.

    While having no powers of arrest, we are active in on the ground, so you may see Europol staff members with police when they knock on your door at 5 o’clock in the morning!

    Our experts are often deployed on-the-spot to perform checks and speed up operations with real-time data analysis. Our analysts facilitate the exchange of information between investigators in different countries. This is how information on suspects can cross borders even faster than the criminals themselves.

  • No, Europol staff members do not wear a uniform. But we may wear a jacket with the Europol logo to distinguish ourselves from Member State law enforcement when in the field. If you pay a visit to our headquarters, you can also see our security officers in uniforms and bulletproof vests.

  • No! If you get a call from someone claiming to work at Europol (and asking you to pay a fine or give personal details), it is a scam.

    Unfortunately, these scams are all too common, so we’ve listed some tips on how to protect yourself from these vicious cyber fraudsters.

  • No. Europol provides technical tools and capabilities to national authorities to exchange personal data of suspected criminals securely. However, the national authority sharing this data with Europol and other national authorities remains the owner. This data exchange allows the detection and identification of criminals operating across EU borders.

  • As you may already suspect, the most dangerous crimes are of particular interest to us. We have made a list of ten crime areas to focus our efforts on - we call these our ‘priority crime areas’.

    But how do we choose ten crime areas? We listen to what EU Member States want and need and analyse crime trends in the EU. It usually consists of crimes that require an international approach and cooperation between several countries, inside and outside the EU. These ten crime priorities shape how we work for the following four years. We call this EMPACT.

    For 2018 - 2021, our ten crime priorities areas are:

    • cybercrime;
    • drug trafficking;
    • facilitating illegal immigration;
    • trafficking in human beings;
    • organised property crime;
    • illicit firearms trafficking;
    • excise and MTIC fraud;
    • environmental crime;
    • criminal finances and money laundering;
    • document fraud.
  • No. Europol staff members do not carry firearms. Intelligence is our weapon.

    Even when Europol staff members are deployed to operations on the ground they are unarmed. Instead, we carry laptops and other fancy electronic devices linked to databases with millions of criminal data entries. Since 2010, we’ve used these devices 1 527 times.

    Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA) is used to quickly exchange operational and strategic crime-related data in a secure way. Over one million SIENA messages were sent between Europol and Member States in 2017 alone.

    Europol Information System (EIS) is used to store and query information about offences, offenders, suspects and other key crime-related data. In 2010, there were 147 345 EIS searches. In 2018, that number stands at over 4 million. In the same year, there were 213 023 persons and 1.3 million objects entered into the EIS. That’s a 600% and 750% increase respectively since 2010.

    Safe to say we are kept quite busy!

  • Our experts can support EU Member States and third parties in the field on their request. We help investigators connect and use information stored in our databases. We can provide expertise and tools which may not be otherwise available.

    Forensic examination, for example, is one way we can help investigations. We have forensic labs in our headquarters, but we can also deploy drug labs for forensic analysis to support drug trafficking investigations. We did this 15 times in 2018.

    We can also help recover and analyse operational information extracted from digital devices, computers and digitally stored media. Our mobile device extraction kits were used 155 times in 2018. This is complemented by our in-house cyber forensic tools, housed in Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3).

    Our experts are also active in migrant smuggling investigations. Experts frequently visit migration hotspots. In 2015 and 2016, Europol counter terrorism experts were deployed to identify movements of suspected terrorists through these hotspots. If you add up all the hours we spent working in these hotspots in 2018, it would be 1 551 working days!

    Europol is also asked to support special international events, such as G7 meetings or the UEFA Euro football tournament. These on-the-ground operations are supported by our 24/7 Operational Centre back in The Hague.

  • We work with Member States to support investigators from national authorities. Europol does not investigate crimes alone. If a serial killer committed a series of murders across Europe, Europol could help the countries concerned, if we were requested to do so.

  • Thinking of 007? Think again. Agent 007 works for the intelligence services and we are law enforcement. In fact, we have hundreds of law enforcement officers in the building. More than 250 of them are here as liaison officers – that means they have an office in our building, but work for their respective national authorities. They come from police, gendarmerie, customs and other authorities. Working in such close quarters has revolutionised police work - a Greek officer only needs to cross the corridor to talk to their Irish counterpart.

    We are also a team of analysts and specialists. Europol analysts evaluate operational data and cross-check data provided from operations against Europol databases. This helps investigators discover the international connections of criminal groups and dangerous perpetrators.

    Specialists combat different forms of crime by helping partners better respond to current and future criminal threats. They analyse criminal trends, coordinate cross-border investigations, provide training to officers working on the field, forensic expertise and so on.

  • No. We also have many civilians working at Europol. They offer important support, but also hold operational posts.

    IT professionals are crucial to Europol’s mission and activities. They make sure that the robust analytical and communication systems are up and running to ensure cross-checks and criminal intelligence can be carried out quickly. Translators and civilian investigators are part of a team, which scour the web for terrorist propaganda and refer it to relevant platform moderators. Policy advisors support the coordination of national policies. This means Member States have a unified response to crime. Audio-visual technicians, conference staff, human resources specialists ensure that our work can be done in the best possible conditions, whether it be a conference or an operational meeting or a field deployment. Security officers make sure Europol’s headquarters is one of the safest and more secure buildings in the world, thereby preserving the EU’s criminal intelligence databases. Communication specialists reach out to EU citizens and promote what Europol does. They also make the public aware of how they can avoid becoming a victim of crime themselves.

  • Yes! Law enforcement and civilians combined, 33% of all Europol staff members are women. We strive to motivate more women to help us make Europe a safer place for all.

    Our current Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle, is actually the first woman to hold the post. She became our fourth Executive Director in 2018, after serving as Belgium’s Police Commissioner.

  • Check out our website for vacancies. Europol offers paid internship opportunities and positions for both civilians and members of law enforcement authorities.

  • Yes – you can even help us from the comfort of your own home.

    Want to help us save children from sexual abuse with a simple click? We post objects from the background of child abuse images in our Stop Child Abuse, Trace an Object campaign. If you recognise an object then your tips could be the missing piece of the puzzle in a complex case.  investigators will have more clues to identify perpetrators and save children victims of sexual abuse.

    How about catching the most dangerous criminals on the run? Take a look at our EU Most Wanted fugitives website. These are some of the most violent criminals currently at large in the EU. If you have any information, immediately contact your local authorities. Your action can prevent them from committing these heinous crimes again.

  • No. Europol does not handle crime reports from citizens directly. All crime reports must be addressed to the relevant national competent authority.