The Hague-based Europol, a police coordination office, will formally become a European Union (EU) agency on Jan. 1, 2010, the European Commission said Friday.
"Europol will become a full EU body, with the tools to support law enforcement agencies in the member states even more effectively. As a result, European police forces will cooperate more closely," said European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot.
The decision to confer EU agency status on Europol was made after 15 months of intense discussions among EU member states.
With this decision, Europol will be funded by the EU budget. The new status will allow EU to adapt Europol's legal framework more rapidly, avoiding the lengthy ratification process of protocols to the Europol Convention.