A New Form of Democratic Oversight in the EU: The Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group for Europol

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In 2017, a new Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) was created to enable members of the national parliaments of the EU and the European Parliament to exercise joint oversight of the EU agency for police cooperation (Europol). This paper chronicles and explains the lengthy legal and political process leading up to the first meeting of the Europol JPSG in October 2017, and the establishment of its Rules of Procedure at its second meeting in March 2018. In addition, the Europol JPSG is compared to the three EU inter-parliamentary conferences (IPCs) which meet twice-yearly to discuss EU affairs, foreign policy and economic governance. While there are many similarities, the JPSG differs from these others in that it has an explicit mandate to scrutinize, and the target of its scrutiny is a specific EU agency rather than a whole policy field. The JPSG is also distinctive in a number of key respects, including a stronger legal basis, more restrictive membership and participation rules, greater continuity of membership, stronger access to EU officials and documents, a seat on the Europol Management Board and an explicit right to ask oral and written questions. Taken together, these attributes indicate that the JPSG is designed to be an oversight body, rather than merely a discussion forum. Finally, the paper considers the likely future UK role in relation to the Europol JPSG after Brexit.

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