World Security Report2018-10-10 13:00:44

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Closer International Cooperation to Fight Hostage-Taking, Kidnapping and Terrorism

ATLAS, the network of special intervention units, signs terms of cooperation with Europol

As the European Union faces increasing threats from organised crime groups and terrorist attacks inspired by religious, left- and right-wing ideologies, an effective law enforcement response must include the availability of well-trained and EU-wide interoperable special intervention units. Therefore, Europol and the ATLAS Network (the cooperation platform of 38 special intervention units of EU Member States and associated countries, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) today signed the terms of enhanced cooperation. The document was signed by Herbert Kickl, Austria’s Minister of the Interior, representing the Presidency of the Council of the European Union; ATLAS Chairman Commander Bernhard Treibenreif; and Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle.

According to the terms of cooperation, an ATLAS Support Office will be established as a team attached to the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) within the Operations Directorate at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. The ATLAS Support Office will be the main interface of ATLAS with Europol and will support the ATLAS Chairmanship by providing contacts to strategic and operational experts at Europol in the relevant areas of combating terrorism and serious and organised crime.

Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle: “I am very pleased to open a new chapter of cooperation between Europol and the Special Intervention Units of the EU Member States gathered in the ATLAS Network. I am sure that the closer relationship between Europol and ATLAS will bring added value to the preparedness of the law enforcement community and therefore for the safety of all European citizens. One important element we are pleased to see is the facilitation of cross-border deployment of Special Intervention Units. Europol is also committed to supporting ATLAS with the development of ambitious projects for the future, including the establishment of joint training activities and the pooling of resources. ”

Herbert Kickl, Minister of the Interior of Austria: “Cooperation between the ATLAS Network and Europol is an important step in the EU and an essential element of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In a crisis situation, special intervention units must be able to support each other across borders.”

The signing of the agreement coincides with the ATLAS common challenge, a counter terrorism exercise in seven European regions taking place from 8 to 11 October. The ATLAS common challenge exercise aims to test the effective operational readiness of European special intervention units as regards cross-border operations. Furthermore the exercise will gather information on warning systems and assistance procedures when tested under real-life circumstances.

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