The European Union and the US agreed Friday to share more data on cross-border cybercriminals at the opening of a new hi-tech unit aimed at helping police catch up with increasingly imaginative criminals.

"This agreement will reinforce the cooperation, the exchange of information," Europol chief Rob Wainwright told AFP at the opening of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) in The Hague.

EC3's task is to use its expertise to help European police investigations and coordinate data, but the unit that is housed within Europol will not itself initiate criminal probes.

With a budget of 4.6 million euros (6.1 million dollars) in 2013, the EC3's priority is to track people carrying out online fraud, "phishing" for web users' private data, including bank account passwords, or dealing in paedophile pornography.

"Cybercrime is a shared global problem," said John Morton, who heads the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency which includes the EC3 unit's US counterpart, C3.

An EC3 analyst who asked not to be named said: "Today's it's quite possible for someone in Argentina to use a server in Miami to steal data in Europe that will be used on another continent, so the sharing of data is extremely important."

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom noted that cyber-criminals "are ahead of us."

"They will always be a bit ahead of us," said EC3's boss Troels Oerting.

"They have more money than we do, more resources, they don't have the legal boundaries we have, and, they have the greed," Oerting said.

"Our role is to reduce that gap as much as possible."