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The European Union law enforcement organization based in The Hague, Netherlands. It was established by the Maastricht Treaty on European Union of 7 February 1992 for the purpose of improving the effectiveness and cooperation between the competent authorities of the member states in preventing and combating serious international organized crime and terrorism, with an emphasis on targeting criminal organizations. The Europol Convention was ratified by all member states and came into force on 1 October 1998.

Europol started limited operations in January 1994 in the form of the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU). Progressively, other important areas of criminality were added and, in January 2002, its mandate extended to deal with all serious forms of international crime as listed in the annex to the Europol Convention. The primary function of Europol is to: facilitate the exchange of information between Europol liaison officers, in accordance with national law (see mutual assistance; mutual legal assistance); provide operational analysis in support of operations; generate strategic reports (e.g. threat assessments) and crime analysis on the basis of information and intelligence supplied by member states and third parties; and provide expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out within the EU, under the supervision of the member states concerned.

Subjects: Law.

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