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Brussels: “If police intel had been shared more effectively, lives could have been saved” in Barcelona

In the European parliament, an MEP decries that Catalan police are denied access to Europol

So far the European Commission had not uttered a word about the inadequate exchange of information between Spain’s law enforcement agencies and Catalonia’s Mossos d’Esquadra, but the subject was eventually broached during Monday’s debate. The EU’s Home Affairs Commissioner, Dimitris Avramópulos, stated that lives could have been saved in terror attacks such as Barcelona’s on August 17, if information had been shared more effectively.

“Undoubtedly, terrorist outrages such as the attacks in Barcelona, Turku, London, Stockholm and Berlin have shown us that timely, more effective information-sharing could have saved lives”, said Mr Avramópulos, speaking on the subject of terrorism before the Home Affairs and Justice Commission of the European Parliament.

The investigation into the recent attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils has revealed that, unbeknownst to the Catalan police, Spain’s Policía Nacional and Guardia Civil had both probed Ripoll imam Abdelbaki es Satty and even wiretapped his phone over his connection with jihadist groups. Es Satty allegedly masterminded the terrorist attacks that hit Catalonia this summer.

Access to Europol's information

During Monday’s appearance before the European Parliament —and addressing Avramópulos and Europe's anti-terror coordinator Gilles de Kerchove—, Portugal’s socialist MEP Ana Gomes criticised the fact that Catalonia’s police force has no direct access to Europol, the European body that coordinates law enforcement agencies across the European Union. “Here lies the problem: the political hurdles between and within member states”, said Gomes.

In the wake of the attack on August 17, the Spanish government vowed to grant the Mossos access to Europol intel, starting this month. It is a time-honoured demand by the Catalan authorities that had been resisted by Madrid up until now.

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