Lawmakers from the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) agreed on Tuesday to broaden the powers of the EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol.

In a vote on Tuesday, MEPs in LIBE voted in favor of a proposal that would boost Europol’s ability to process large data sets and exchange information with private companies.

The file’s rapporteur, Javier Zarzalejos of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) welcomed the „long awaited step forward in Europol’s capabilities“ in an emailed statement.

Forty-seven MEPs voted in favor of the final text, with LIBE’s entire delegation of EPP, centrist Renew and center-left Socialists & Democrats backing the position. There were 16 lawmakers who voted against the text, including the Green and Left delegations.

According to a document obtained by POLITICO, the Parliament’s position offers bolstered safeguards on Europol’s strengthened powers and a bigger role for the EU’s in-house privacy regulator, the EDPS, compared to the Commission’s original proposal and the European Council position, agreed in June.

But not all are convinced that Europol’s new powers are sufficiently regulated.

Saskia Bricmont of the Greens, whose contingent voted unanimously against the proposal, said the reform “raises many concerns” in terms of fundamental rights and data protection.

“The agency obtains extensive powers without independent oversight,” she said.

The Commission, the Council and the Parliament must now negotiate the final version of the bill.

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