Max-Peter Ratzel of the German Criminal Police Office is set to take over the European Union's police agency, Europol. Ratzel's appointment comes a year after Paris and Berlin failed to agree over a new director.
Max-Peter Ratzel will be assuming the post of Europol director
When there are representatives from 25 different countries at a table there are usually 25 different opinions, and decisions are rarely made quickly. This was true for the post of the new director of European Union's police agency, which remained vacant for one year as France refused to give the green light to renew Jürgen Storbeck's contract for another five years.
The 25 European interior and justice ministers have now, however, agreed that Max-Peter Ratzel of the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) should take over the post in the Hague. Luxembourg's justice minister, Luc Frieden, announced the appointment Thursday, adding that all four candidates had the necessary qualifications but a decision for such a job -- whose importance is rapidly increasing -- had to be made during the ministerial meeting.
The other three candidates, French anti-terrorist coordinator Gilles Leclair, current interim Europol director Mariano Simancas Carrion from Spain and Italy's chief investigator in the interior ministry, Emanuele Marotta, lost out to Ratzel.
Specialized in organized crime
Since 2000, Ratzel has headed the BKA's organized and general crime section, in Wiesbaden, with over 850 officers under his leadership combating child pornography, Internet crime, the spread of counterfeit money and human trafficking.
Interior Minister, Otto Schily, wanted a German at the head of the EU's police agency. Now Europol should receive expanded powers
"Everyone is aware that the meaning of the European police will be increasing and that its effectiveness must be raised," said German Interior Minister Otto Schily said after the decision was made public. The 54-year old Ratzel's vast experience made the difference to the ministers, Schily added.
Ratzel will take over an agency whose powers are currently limited. Europol is only allowed to collect and analyze international data and then use that to support the individual European police agencies. But there have been calls throughout Europe for Europol to assume a more active role in tackling crime.
With Ratzel in charge, Europol will continue to be led by a German. The German insistence that a German remain at the top in the Hague, however, may have to be reciprocated with German concessions for other EU posts.