University of Dundee The counterterrorism agreements of Europol with third countries

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University of Dundee

The counterterrorism agreements of Europol with third countries

Ilbiz, Ethem; Kaunert, Christian; Anagnostakis, Dimitrios

Published in:

Terrorism and Political Violence



Publication date:


Document Version

Peer reviewed version

Link to publication in Discovery Research Portal

Citation for published version (APA):

Ilbiz, E., Kaunert, C., & Anagnostakis, D. (2015). The counterterrorism agreements of Europol with third

countries: data protection and power asymmetry. Terrorism and Political Violence. DOI:


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Download date: 23. Jan. 2018



The agreements of Europol with third countries: data protection 

and power asymmetry in counterterrorism 



This  article  investigates  empirically  the  impact  of  power  asymmetry  and 

interest  formation  in  European  Union’s  (EU)  external  relations  with  third 

countries  in  the  context  of  the  Europol  data  exchange  and 

counterterrorism  agreements.  It  focuses  on  three  countries,  namely  the 

United  States  (U.S.),  Turkey  and  Morocco,  which  have  each  a  different 

level of counterterrorism cooperation with the EU. This article argues that 

the EU acts as a pragmatic actor with regard to Europol’s data exchange 

agreements with third countries, and that the power asymmetry between 

the EU and the third country under question determines the extent of the 

EU’s flexibility. If the power asymmetry favours the EU, then it insists on 

its  data  protection  demands.  Otherwise,  the  EU  is  more  flexible  towards 

its counterparts on data protection issues.  


Key  Words:  Europol,  Counter-terrorism,  Data  Protection  Rules,  United 

States, Turkey, Morocco, Power Asymmetry. 






This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Terrorism and 

Political Violence on 04/11/2015, available online:









Since  the  end  of  the  Second  World  War,  the  protection  of  human  rights 

has gradually gained a prominent role, both among the EU member states 

and in the EU’s external relations. The EU and its member states are part 

of a comprehensive human rights regime based on documents such as the 

‘Charter  of  the  Fundamental  Rights  of  European  Union’  (CFR)  and  the 

Council of Europe’s ‘European Convention on Human Rights’. Additionally, 

the EU has set the adoption of liberal democratic norms as a condition to 

third countries when these countries have sought to cooperate with EU. In 

particular, in the issue-area of counterterrorism the protection of human 

rights is considered by the EU as a vital requirement for cooperation with 

third  countries.  In  its  functions  and  operation,  Europol  is  bound  by  the 

same human rights principles and treaties as the EU.  


Regarding data protection and data privacy in the EU, the right to privacy 

including data privacy has  been  elevated  to  the  status  of  a  fundamental 

human  right  and  the  EU  has  a  detailed  data  protection  regime  (the 

comprehensive  legislative  framework  model)


 based  on  a  number  of 

international  agreements,  rules  and  regulations  and  regulated  by  data 

protection  supervisory  authorities.  The  protection  of  personal  data  has, 

therefore,  a  central  place  in  Europol’s  mode  of  operation  as  reflected  in 

the organisation’s convention. In order for a third country to sign a data 

exchange agreement with Europol, it is required that this country has an 

adequate data protection framework.  


In  the  aftermath  of  the  9/11  attacks,  however,  the  EU  and  the  Europol 

were  subject  to  the  criticism  that  they    were  not    as  sensitive  on  data 

protection rules  as before prioritizing instead the expansion  of counter-

terrorism  cooperation  with  third  countries.


 This  had  the  risk  of  the  EU  

losing its normative reputation in global politics which has been developed 

in the course of many years.   


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