Estonia in favor of EU-wide police partnership idea

  • 2020-07-07
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia supports the idea of a police partnership across the European Union proposed by Germany.

The idea of a European police partnership was discussed as one of the items on the agenda of the first informal video meeting of EU interior ministers during the German presidency of the EU Council, the Estonian Interior Ministry said.

As the EU Council presidency holder, Germany has set itself the goal of establishing a pan-European police partnership, which should ensure that police officers in all member states have real-time access to the information they need to work, even if that information is located in another member state. The idea of a police partnership is partly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, which proved the importance of effective communication between the various parties.

"Germany's direction suits Estonia, because closer cooperation with other member states and a better level of data exchange create a stronger background system for both the police and law enforcement agencies," Interior Minister Mart Helme said. "In Estonia, police patrol cars have long been equipped with an e-police system, which ensures access to both national and international databases. The existence of a similar system at European Union level would be a major breakthrough," he added.

According to EU interior ministers, in order to achieve a European police partnership, the primary focus must be on implementing what has been agreed so far. This concerns in particular the development of the interoperability of information systems in the field of internal security.

"In order for our police officers to be able to work effectively, they must be guaranteed fast and user-friendly access to high-quality information. This should be the main goal of the European police partnership," Helme said. "One-time querying and automation of data, which would mean a significant time saving for law enforcement officers, are also important keywords for achieving the goal," he added.

EU interior ministers also supported strengthening the role of Europol in supporting member states in the fight against cross-border serious and organized crime and terrorism. "In Estonia's opinion, Europol should focus primarily on enhancing the existing tasks. The agency could also support member states in developing costly or very specific innovative tools," Helme said.

The second point of agenda of the meeting was search and rescue at sea and voluntary assistance to Mediterranean countries under high migration pressure. At the meeting, Helme reaffirmed Estonia's position, according to which the country cannot support the compulsory relocation of immigrants and considers it important to focus primarily on better protection of the EU's external borders and activities in countries of origin and transit.

The next official meeting of EU interior ministers is scheduled to take place on Oct. 9.