Difference Between Interpol and Europol

Interpol and Europol are both international law enforcement organizations, but they have different focuses and functions.


Interpol, short for the International Criminal Police Organization, is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates cooperation and communication between law enforcement agencies of different countries. Interpol helps police forces in different countries work together to solve international crimes, including terrorism, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and cybercrime.

INTERPOL, often fictionalized in media like the Jason Bourne and James Bond series, actually operates without undercover agents. Its primary function is managing a comprehensive database with details from global police forces, including criminal profiles, fingerprints, DNA, and information on crimes like terrorism and child sexual abuse, along with data on stolen items like artworks.

One example of INTERPOL’s effectiveness involved Monaco police identifying a criminal wanted in Serbia and five other European countries using INTERPOL’s database after a fingerprint match.

Founded in 1914 and officially established in 1923, INTERPOL now celebrates its centenary as the world’s largest police organization with 190 member countries. It aids in international law enforcement even where diplomatic relations are absent.

Headquartered in Lyon, France, INTERPOL has seven regional offices and a National Central Bureau in each member country, with the UK bureau located in Manchester’s NCA office.

INTERPOL’s Command and Co-ordination Centre operates 24/7 for major international incidents, exemplified by its role in identifying the victims of Malaysia Airline flight MH17’s crash.

INTERPOL Notices, a crucial information-sharing tool, are color-coded alerts sent worldwide, with Red Notices for wanted persons, Yellow Notices for missing people, and Orange Notices for public dangers. For instance, a Yellow Notice was issued globally for Ashya King, a five-year-old boy with a brain tumor taken from Southampton General Hospital.


Europol, short for the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, is specifically focused on supporting the law enforcement agencies of the European Union (EU) member states. Europol’s main goal is to improve the effectiveness and cooperation of the law enforcement agencies in EU countries in combating serious international organized crime and terrorism.

Europol, the European Union’s official intelligence agency, was established in 1999. It began operations on a smaller scale in 1994 following the Maastricht Treaty, initially focusing on drug-related crimes.

Main differences and similarities

While both Interpol and Europol are international law enforcement organizations, Interpol operates on a global scale, while Europol focuses on supporting law enforcement within the European Union. Interpol primarily facilitates cooperation between international police organizations, while Europol supports intelligence agencies within the European Union. Interpol has the authority to conduct investigations and arrest suspects involved in various crimes, including money laundering, drug trafficking, terrorism, and genocide. In contrast, Europol lacks investigative and arrest powers, serving only in a supportive role to EU member countries’ intelligence agencies, without any executive authority.

INTERPOL vs Europol

INTERPOL, a global police partnership organization, and Europol, focusing on the European Union, collaborate without competition, as evidenced by their 2001 cooperation agreement. Andy Archibald of the NCA notes that both organizations work to avoid duplication and complement each other, recognizing the need for an international, partnered response.


  1. Interpol, established as the International Criminal Police Commission in 1923 and renamed in 1956, facilitates international police cooperation.
  2. Europol, the European Union’s intelligence agency, started in 1994 following the Maastricht Treaty and was formally established in 1999.
  3. Interpol can conduct investigations and arrest suspects in crimes.
  4. Europol lacks authority for investigations, questioning, or arresting suspects.
Iryna Berenstein
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Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does INTERPOL work with Europol?
INTERPOL collaborates with Europol on joint projects to enhance access to its databases, training, capacity building programs, and other initiatives.
What does Europol mean?
Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency, aids law enforcement in EU member countries to enhance safety in Europe.
Is INTERPOL the same as CIA?
The CIA specializes in intelligence gathering and analysis, whereas Interpol promotes international police cooperation and crime control. Comparing their "power" is misleading due to their distinct roles and functions.