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Danish, EU parliaments agree on Europol deal

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Danish, EU parliaments agree on Europol deal
Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen (C) speaks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) and European Council President Donald Tusk (L)  in December 2016. Photo: Virginia Mayo/Scanpix
09:29 CEST+02:00
The Danish and EU parliaments both voted Thursday for a special agreement that will allow the Scandinavian nation continued participation in the EU's international policing and data resource-sharing organisation Europol.

Denmark decided by referendum in December 2015 to continue to exempt itself from participation in EU legal cooperation at supranational level, which meant it could not remain in Europol after new EU legislation comes into effect on May 1st.

The special agreement with the EU will reduce the consequences of Denmark leaving Europol.

Parliament agreed Thursday to a bill that would enable Denmark to enter into a special agreement with the cross-border European police body, reports broadcaster DR.

A new Europol regulation comes into effect on May 1st which Denmark will otherwise be excluded from, after the December 2015 referendum in which Danes opted not to replace their opt-out (retsforbehold) on EU justice and home affairs with an 'opt-in' model.

Kristian Thulesen Dahl, leader of the EU-sceptic Danish People’s Party, tweeted a picture of a display in parliament showing support for the bill Thursday.

Justice minister Søren Pape Poulsen confirmed last month that Denmark had negotiated a first draft of a special agreement on Europol that would reduce any adverse effects of Denmark leaving the policing collaboration.

The agreement defines what information in Europol databases Denmark can access and the procedure of such access, reports DR.

READ ALSO: Europol: What's in it for the Danes?

This includes placement of Danish contact officers with Europol and likewise with Europol officers in Denmark and observer status for Denmark on Europol’s board.

Denmark will not have direct access to search Europol’s database but will be able to contact Danish-speaking Europol staff, who can check the database and add details on behalf of Danish police, reports DR.

A condition of the arrangement is that Denmark remains part of the Schengen zone.

The arrangement also received support in the EU parliament later on Thursday, meaning Denmark’s continued participation in Europol under its special agreement is all but confirmed.

A majority of 569 for and eight against, with 62 abstentions, approved the agreement to replace Denmark’s full membership on May 1st, according to DR.

“In a time of terror, cross-border crime and refugee crisis, it would have been a nightmare scenario and catastrophe for us to have dropped out,” EU parliament member Morten Helveg Petersen of the Social Liberal (Radikale Venstre) Party told news agency Ritzau.

The final hurdle before the arrangement is confirmed is a vote by the governments of the EU’s 27 other member states.

This is unlikely to trip up the passing of the agreement.

READ ALSO: EU President accuses populists of misleading Danes

“If Denmark suddenly leaves Europol, this could leave operational holes and a reduced capacity to fight organised crime and terrorism. It is therefore important that a sufficient agreement is reached with Denmark for after May 1st,” said Spanish EU parliament member Agustín Díaz de Mera.

Elected members of the EU parliament could also have blocked the approval of the proposal before May 1st had they insisted on referring it to their individual committees, but chose to forego this step to ensure that the deadline is met, reports DR. 

EU politicians have previously expressed doubt as to the viability of Denmark's continued participation in Europol.

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