Catalan police exclusion from Europol ‘can compromise’ European security, warns Eurocop

21.06.2017 - 15:00
Actualització: 22.06.2017 - 09:51

Politicizing security puts citizens at risk. The Catalan police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, should have access to Europol databases and forums just like any other competent security authority in Europe, said the president of Eurocop, Àngels Bosch, in an interview with the CNA. Following the outrage in Catalonia that the Basque police force, Ertzaitza, was granted access to Europol by the Spanish government while the Mossos were kept out, the European police union leader said this can “compromise” Europe’s security. “A lack of commitment between different security forces, a lack of coordination, or subpar communication and exchange of information can compromise the whole European area,” she explained.

Mossos d’Esquadra agents are the “competent” police force in Catalonia, including in the fight against terrorism and organized crime. “Europol should be able to maintain direct contact with every competent authority on security in every member state,” said Àngels Bosch, who is also vice secretary general of the police union in Catalonia. In fact, the European police union has “lobbied for years” to achieve this, she said.

“A large part of the border territory between Spain and France is in Catalonia, and the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police, is the competent authority, so it’s only normal that it have access to Europol forums,” the union leader added. According to Bosch, agents “do not understand” why the Mossos and the Basque police are treated differently when it comes to accessing Europol information.

“We do not understand why the issue is politicized,” she pointed out, insisting that the Mossos’ powers in the fight against terrorism are spelled out not only in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, but also in Spanish laws. The security of Catalan citizens “is also a responsibility” of the Spanish home affairs ministry, Bosch explained.

The decision to grant access to Basque police to Europol forums was made during a security meeting between the Spanish and Basque governments. For years, the Catalan executive has unsuccessfully urged Madrid to call a similar summit. Faced with growing security concerns, including from the police force itself, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, decided to call the meeting himself for July 3. It is not clear, however, whether or not the Spanish government will attend.

The Spanish home affairs minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, said that July 3 is not a good day for him and urged the Catalan government to offer an alternative. If in the end they do not meet, the possibility of reaching an agreement is unlikely and the summit will only highlight Madrid’s unwillingness to cooperate with the Catalan government on security issues.

The Catalan president Carles Puigdemont answered that the date won’t be a problem and celebrated that the Spanish Government seems to understand the urgency of the meeting of the Security Council. At the same time he made clear that a new date should be set quickly. “It seems that the pressure has helped to resolve this situation but it was completely unnecessary to make citizens wait and create doubts about Spain’s commitment with the safety of the Catalan citizens,” he stated.

Besides the Europol issue, the Catalan and Spanish governments are also at odds about the recent announcement about the hiring of 500 new officers. While Barcelona says it urgently needs the reinforcements, Madrid argues that budgetary concerns would only allow hiring 50 new agents.


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