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European Union and United States Law Enforcement Co-operation Making It Safer For Citizens: A Global Approach

From left: Frank Cilluffo (moderator), EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton, and Europol Director Rob Wainwright.

On Tuesday, April 16, the Delegation of the European Union to the United States and Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, welcomed more than 140 members of the U.S. and European law enforcement communities for an in-depth discussion of transatlantic cooperation in critical areas including cyber crime, terrorism, and crimes related to intellectual property rights.  Coming just one day after the tragic events in Boston, the conference began with an acknowledgement by all parties that in such times, transatlantic cooperation is more vital than ever.

The seminar at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center was opened by EU Ambassador João Vale de Almeida and featured speeches by senior law enforcement officials, including Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute; Europol Director Rob Wainwright; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

“As globalization intensifies, we have to recognize that crime has also become increasingly multinational, multifaceted, innovative and disruptive, and not in a good way,” observed Ambassador Vale de Almeida during his introduction. “The onus is on us, the EU and the U.S., public and law enforcement officials, to ensure that as we prepare to deepen our economic ties [through a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership], we adapt effectively to this transformation. We also need to consider how to align our law enforcement resources to ensure that as we open up the opportunity for businesses and working families, we also keep criminal interests in check.”

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Jane Holl Lute agreed, and noted that progress was already being made. She said, “Working together, we have already begun to see how we can transform the way in which we protect our nations, and our citizens, against the shared threats that we face. Whether those threats are from terrorists, cyber criminals, or those who seek to steal intellectual property…the cooperation between our law enforcement agencies, governments, and our nations have never been stronger, and its impact has never been greater.”

Europol Director Rob Wainwright also highlighted the increasing engagement of U.S. federal law enforcement agencies with Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency. Noting the emergence of new criminal phenomena, many linked to the current economic crisis and the internet, Director Wainwright called for a globalized response to match new threats and challenges: “The EU and the U.S. must operate at a multinational level as we face a multinational threat.”

He also pointed out that EU-U.S. security and prosperity are inextricably linked, and that to be successful, law enforcement must anticipate growing EU-U.S. interdependency, especially in light of negotiations for a future transatlantic trade and investment partnership.

According to John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “The effectiveness of our agency on the world stage is directly tied to our ability to cooperate with the collective nations of the European Union and with the strength of our partnerships with law enforcement partners like Europol.” Director Morton also shared several examples of successful transatlantic cooperation in combating cybercrime, including child sexual exploitation, and battling intellectual property theft.

The public portion of the conference program was closed by Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at the White House.

“Our relationship with Europe is critical to the security and the prosperity of the United States,” Ms. Espinel said. “Intellectual property enforcement is a global issue, and we will be much more effective if we are cooperating closely with each other.”

She continued, “We share many of the same priorities: supporting our workers, protecting our citizens from health and safety risks, promoting innovation and creativity, and ensuring that there is a fair trading environment where the rules are abided by and overseas markets are not polluted by infringing goods.”