Interpol vs Europol: Difference and Comparison

No country has the right to undergo any criminal investigation or arrest criminals across borders. Cooperation between both nations’ police organizations is essential to carry out such activities.

Hence, to facilitate the collaboration between different international police organizations and international law enforcement, Interpol and Europol are responsible.

The two bodies might form the bridge between two nations, but they differ in their functions and working methods. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Interpol is an international police organization that facilitates international cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
  2. Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency, combating organized crime and terrorism within member countries.
  3. Interpol covers a broader geographic scope and more member countries than Europol, which concentrates on the European Union.

Interpol vs Europol

Interpol is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates international police cooperation. Its mission is to promote cross-border police cooperation and communication, to prevent and fight crime. Europol focuses on fostering cooperation among law enforcement agencies of the EU states.

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Interpol is an international criminal police organization formed to smoothen police activity across borders by building cooperation between international police organizations.

Interpol keeps the data of several international criminals and investigates illegal activities depending on the demands of partner countries.

Hence, with the help of Interpol, investigations and arrests in different countries get easier for the police organizations. 

Europol or Europe Police Office is an international agency that helps law enforcement. The agency enforces laws for the European Union and partner countries on their demand.

The role of Europol is to handle criminal intelligence and fight against crimes within the European Union members.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonInterpolEuropol
Full-FormInternational Criminal Police OrganizationEuropean Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation
Headquarter of organizationFranceNetherlands
Objectives of organizationInterpol works as a bridge between police organizations by sharing essential data during any criminal investigation.Europol is tasked to handle criminal intelligence and tackle international crimes while cooperating with relevant authorities.
Area of operationInterpol helps to investigate crimes for 190 member countries.Europol operates and tackles criminal activity within the European Union and member countries.
Governing body Interpol General AssemblyThe Justice and home affairs council

What is Interpol?

Interpol is one such intergovernmental agency that forms the bridge between international police organizations of partner countries.

The agency was introduced in 1923 by the name International Criminal Police Commission. But, later in 1956, the correct abbreviation of Interpol was adopted, i.e. International Criminal Police Organization. 

Initially, the agency faced two failed attempts while establishing. But, currently, Interpol provides its services and stores international criminal data of 190 member countries.

As most countries have joined as a member, the agency has helped control illegal activities globally to a significant extent. 

Before Interpol, police organizations couldn’t gather essential information and arrest criminals in other countries. Hence, escaping to other countries was an easy escape route for criminals.

But, with Interpol, facilitating cooperation between international police organizations is easy; hence, catching any criminal is possible in member countries. 

Interpol deals with several types of crimes, including terrorism, smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, child pornography, corruption, cybercrime, etc.

Interpol helps by providing crucial information related to crime to different police organizations on demand.

The agency keeps track of international criminals and counters criminal activities based on the request of partner countries.


What is Europol?

Europol is an international agency that works for the European Union and its partner countries to enforce the law, handle criminal intelligence, and facilitate cooperation.

The agency was formed on 1st October 1998 with just 145 liaison officers and other national law enforcement organizations employees.

But, the organization has been unofficially operating with limited officers since 1994 after the Maastricht treaty of 1992.

Initially, Europol was mainly focused on drug-related crimes; hence, the agency was formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drug Unit. But, later,

the abbreviation was changed to European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation.

Europol started working with new objectives to handle criminal intelligence, counter international crimes, and terrorism with the help of relevant authorities of member countries. 

The organization fights against multiple international crimes, including illicit drugs, human trafficking, intellectual property crimes, euro counterfeiting, etc.

Europol is tasked with collecting intelligence data related to crime and building cooperation between partner countries’ law enforcement units. But, the agency only performs the given task for the European Union and member countries. 

The unit is devoid of executive powers; hence, no Europol officer can arrest any criminal.

Moreover, the agency can investigate crimes either by taking permission from the member nation’s authorities or on-demand from the member nations.


Main Differences Between Interpol and Europol

  1. Interpol is also called the International Criminal Police Organization. In contrast, Europol was initially called the European Police Office and Europol Drug Unit. But, now, Europol is called the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation. 
  2. The headquarter of Interpol is situated in France, where a vast database of international criminals is present. Europol has its headquarter in the Netherlands, from where they operate the criminal proceedings of all the cases. 
  3. Interpol forms the bridge between partner country’s police organizations and helps them investigate crime by sharing data related to the crime and criminal. In contrast, Europol handles criminal intelligence, facilitates cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and investigates crime by cooperating with competent authorities. 
  4. Interpol and Europol deal with several crimes, but their area of operation is different. Interpol offers its services to 190 member countries. In comparison, Europol’s services are limited to the European Union and partner countries.
  5. Interpol is governed by the Interpol General Assembly, while the justice and home affairs council govern Europol. 
Difference Between Interpol and Europol

Last Updated : 18 July, 2023

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