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Opening lecture Master European Law by Europol’s Catherine De Bolle

On Tuesday 10 September 2019, the opening of the LLM European Law 2019-2020 took place in the Old Observatory of Leiden Law School. Ms Catherine De Bolle, Executive Director of Europol, gave the opening lecture.

In her introduction, Ms De Bolle highlighted that academia plays an important role in supporting law enforcement, especially when it comes to developing methodologies adopted to the specific requirements of police work and the type of data that is used. 'Police services will always be in need of real lawyers and legal experts because of how complex the field of law enforcement is', she told the students.

Ms De Bolle recalled that she had wanted to become police officer from an early age. However, when she applied to join the police force, she was not accepted because she didn't meet the then height requirements that applied at that time. She decided to follow another interest of hers and went to study law. When the entrance requirements for entering the police force changed, she reapplied and joined the police force.

Operation Icebreaker

Europol's mission is to support the EU Member States in preventing and combating all forms of serious crime, cybercrime and terrorism, Ms De Bolle explained. 'The Member States take the lead in their investigations. We support them by facilitating the real-time exchange of information between investigators in different countries, coordinating cross-border operations and supporting with the analysis of criminal data.' She mentioned Operation Icebreaker as an example of the operational support. Together with the Polish and Lithuanian police forces, Europol developed an action plan to deal with a criminal group. As a result, 40 simultaneous house searches were conducted and 22 suspects were arrested all over Europe.

Europol is also involved in security policy within the EU. Europol helps in defining the strategic priorities in the fight against organized crime and terrorism in the EU. Ms De Bolle outlined jihadi terrorism and child sexual exploitation as some of the criminal threats that the EU is facing. To conclude, she reflected on the Europol 2020+ strategy and informed her audience that a new Centre on European Financial and Economic Centre will be created in order to enhance operational effectiveness and reinforce the support provided to the Member States in the fields of financial and economic crime.

Photo: Gizem Erdal

Some awards were also presented during the opening. Because of the outstanding quality of his paper, the Europa Institute Paper Prize was awarded to Jan Pieter Janssen for his essay De Britse nalatenschap: Een onderzoek naar de invloed van de houding van het Verenigd Koninkrijk ten opzichte van de Europese integratie op het gehele Europese integratieproces ('The British legacy: An investigation into the influence of the attitude of the United Kingdom towards European integration on the entire European integration process').

Johanna Haunold received the Europa Institute Thesis Award 2018-2019 for her thesis A Legally Enforceable Duty of Initiative? The European Commission’s Discretion in Triggering the Excessive Deficit Procedure, supervised by Frederik Behre.

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