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Press Office

Athens, 26 October 2021

Hellenic Parliament Delegation participates in 9th Meeting of Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group (JPSG) on Europol

A Hellenic Parliament delegation, consisting of the members of the Standing Committee on Public Administration, Public Order and Justice Konstantinos Karagounis and Angelos Tsigris, participated via teleconference in the proceedings of the 9th Meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol, held in Brussels on Monday 25 and Tuesday 26 October 2021.

The main topics of discussion were the activities of the Agency from March to September 2021, cybercrime - with an emphasis on cyberbullying and online child abuse -, cooperation with third countries and private companies, as well as financial crime, corruption and the protection of EU financial interests. Keynote speakers were the Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, the Executive Director of Europol Catherine De Bolle, the European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski, the Chairmen of the Europol Governing Council and  Cooperation Council and others.

Mr. Karagounis in his intervention on cybercrime and online child abuse noted that in 2020 due to the pandemic there was a 13.9% increase in all new cases handled by the Cybercrime Prosecution Directorate, also presenting detailed statistics on the aforementioned cases.The lack of proper internet use knowledge, technological illiteracy of parents, easy internet access for minors, are factors contributing to the prospective victim’s vulnerability. The method of “phishing”, social engineering, the dark internet, are widely used by perpetrators, complicating the work of law enforcement authorities. The Greek Police cooperation with Europol for the exchange of information is very important, Mr. Karagounis underlined, as well as the strengthening of Europol cooperation with  private companies. An equally important initiative that helps in prevention is the possibility for private companies to lodge relevant complaints, which, nevertheless, must be combined with an annual report and audit.

Mr. Tsigris also took a stand on this issue, stating that sexual child abuse is the most serious crime while the victim is still alive. Impact and consequences are irreversible, therefore, the only punishment appropriate is the maximum sentence, life imprisonment. The internet has facilitated this most heinous crime, with an increase in incidents of 28% from 2019 to 2020. The problem is huge as only a 6% of all abuse cases are reported. Cooperation of national law enforcement authorities at European and international level is imperative. Mr. Tsigris underlined that "unfortunately parents do not have sufficient knowledge to take measures for preventing and controlling internet use" and called on large supranational organisations and Europol to take steps to strengthen the precautionary process to address such asymmetric threats.

Regarding financial crime and corruption, Mr. Karagounis noted that the pandemic contributed to an increase in increase due to a lack of on-the-spot checks. The competent Greek authorities participate with experts in Europol’s analysis projects, through which operational assistance is provided to serious and organised crime investigations at European and international level. However, Mr. Karagounis asked for Europol’s immediate response to Greek authorities’ requests for information, so that this information be available at the critical time of the investigation. He also stressed the need to establish a European legal framework that would allow not only the police but also the judiciary to use information and data exchanged between law enforcement agencies through Europol.

The proceedings were completed with the unanimous adoption of the Europol Revised Rules of Procedure, drafted on a basis of compromise proposals submitted by the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group’s Working Group, resulting from the 15 participating national delegations’ joint efforts, including the Hellenic Parliament delegation.

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