A big (but not yet complete) step for international information exchange for the purpose of the administrative approach.
On 1st of October 2023, the new Benelux Police Treaty entered into force. Among other things, the purpose of this treaty is to expand opportunities for cross-border policing and facilitate police investigations in neighboring countries. In addition, the aim of this treaty is to improve data exchange. Because of the latter goal, the Benelux Police Treaty is also important for the administrative approach to organised crime in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
The convention explicitly provides for a provision (Article 4, paragraph 3) aimed at allowing the exchange and transmission of police data on request “for the purpose of taking administrative measures (…) to prevent criminal offences and to maintain public order and security”. This will be a major step forward in the cross-border administrative approach against organised crime.
However, for this provision to be effective in practice, national legislation in Belgium still needs to be adapted. Without such adjustment in national legislation, it will not be possible to transfer police data across borders for the purpose of administrative measures after 1 October 2023 for the time being. The intention would be to adapt national legislation in the relatively short term, but for the time being no exact date has been set for this. The Netherlands and Luxembourg do not require these adjustments. As the scope of the treaty is Benelux, it does not apply in Germany.
Once the legislation is passed and additional modalities agreed upon, it will become possible in certain cases to pass on police information for administrative purposes. In practice, this would be a very big step forward for the international administrative and integrated approach. First, because during the past four years, several cases were brought to the EURIEC where foreign police information would be relevant and necessary for taking possible administrative measures. Second, the full implementation of the new Benelux Police Treaty could also be useful for more legal certainty on the exchange of foreign police information with the National Bibob Agency or the (yet to be established) Directorate for Integrity Assessment of Public Administrations in Belgium.
Hence, the EURIEC hopes for an early adaptation of the relevant national legislation and the regulation of the additional modalities so that the administrative and integral cross-border approach can take a step forward in the short term. Of course, the EURIEC will remain in contact with Belgian and Dutch partners for this purpose and we will keep you informed of further developments.