In recent years, the European Union has come to view cyber security, and in particular, cyber crime as one of the most relevant challenges to the completion of its Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Given European societies’ increased reliance on borderless and decentralized information technologies, this sector of activity has been identified as an easy target for actors such as organised criminals, hacktivists or terrorist networks. Such analysis has been accompanied by EU calls to step up the fight against unlawful online activities, namely through increased cooperation among law enforcement authorities (both national and extra- communitarian), the approximation of legislations, and public- private partnerships. Although EU initiatives in this field have, so far, been characterized by a lack of interconnection and an integrated strategy, there has been, since the mid- 2000s, an attempt to develop a more cohesive and coordinated policy. An important part of this policy is connected to the activities of Europol, which have come to assume a central role in the coordination of intelligence gathering and analysis of cyber crime. The European Cybercrime Center (EC3), which will become operational within Europol in January 2013, is regarded, in particular, as a focal point of the EU’s fight against this phenomenon. Bearing this background in mind, the present article wishes to understand the role of Europol in the development of a European policy to counter the illegal use of the internet. The article proposes to reach this objective by analyzing, through the theoretical lenses of experimental governance, the evolution of this agency’s activities in the area of cyber crime and cyber security, its positioning as an expert in the field, and the consequences for the way this policy is currently developing and is expected to develop in the near future.
|European Union Studies Association
|Published - 2014