The new European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) is to officially open on Friday, 11 January, at the European Police Office (Europol) in the Hague in the Netherlands.
"The Cybercrime Centre will give a strong boost to the EU's capacity to fight cybercrime and defend an internet that is free, open and secure. Cybercriminals are smart and quick in using new technologies for criminal purposes; the EC3 will help us become even smarter and quicker to help prevent and fight their crimes," said European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who will be officially opening the facility.
EC3 will open with a staff of 40 and an annual budget of €7m (£5.7m), drawn from Europol's existing €84m (£68.5m) funding. It is intended to combat cybercrime in the following three areas:
"In combating cybercrime, with its borderless nature and huge ability for the criminals to hide, we need a flexible and adequate response. The European Cybercrime Centre is designed to deliver this expertise as a 'fusion centre', as a centre for operational investigative and forensic support, but also through its ability to mobilise all relevant resources in EU member states to mitigate and reduce the threat from cybercriminals wherever they operate from," said Troels Oerting, the head of EC3.
The EC3 initiative was announced in March 2012, following a feasibility study prepared by Rand Corporation (PDF).
Also back in March, the EU announced plans for an EU-wide criminal law that would make "hacking" an offence punishable with a maximum punishment of at least two years in prison. The draft law was backed by the EU's own Civil Liberties Committee.
It would criminalise, among other things, "the production or sale of devices such as computer programs designed for cyber-attacks, or which find a computer password by which an information system can be accessed," according to European Parliament News.