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The EU’s Five-Year Organised Crime Strategy

Author: Syedur Rahman  10 May 2021
2 min read

Syed Rahman of Rahman Ravelli summarises the European Commission’s plans for combating crime from 2021 to 2025

The European Commission’s five-year “EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime’’, is aimed at improving both law enforcement and judicial cooperation.

The Strategy has been devised to tackle organised crime structures, combat what it classes as high-priority crimes and ensure a modern response to technological developments. It cites drugs trafficking, organised property crime, fraud, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings as being prevalent in the EU.

Announcing the Strategy, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, highlighted the fact that 70% of criminal groups are active in more than three EU member states. The appropriate response, she said, was the Strategy’s aim to move “from occasional police cooperation to permanent police partnerships’’, in order to follow the money and catch criminals.   The Strategy builds on the latest four-yearly Europol assessment of serious and organised crime threats, which was released just days before it.  

The Strategy’s Aims

Boosting Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation

As 65% of criminal groups active in the EU are made up of multiple nationalities, effective exchange of information between EU law enforcement and judicial authorities is seen as imperative to tackling organised crime. The Commission is to expand, modernise and reinforce funding for the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats (EMPACT) which, for the past 11 years, has brought together all relevant European and national authorities to identify priority crime threats and address them collectively. 

The Commission intends to upgrade the ‘Prüm' framework for exchanging information on DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration. It is to propose an EU Police Cooperation Code in order to streamline the various current EU tools and multi-lateral cooperation agreements. The Commission also intends to seek a cooperation agreement with Interpol.  

Disrupting Crime Structures and Focusing on Particular Crimes

The Strategy identifies a need to enhance cooperation across the EU to dismantle organised crime structures. It is proposing to revise the EU rules against environmental crime and establish a new EU approach to tackling counterfeiting - particularly medical products – and the illicit trade in cultural goods. It has also drawn up plans specifically to tackle trafficking in human beings. 

Ensuring Crime Does Not Pay

The EU has said that more than 60% of the criminal networks within its borders are involved in corruption; with more than 80% of these using legitimate businesses as a respectable “front’’ for their wrongdoing. With only 1% of criminal assets currently being confiscated in the EU, the Strategy has identified tackling criminal finances as the key to identifying, punishing and deterring crime. The Commission is to propose revising EU rules on confiscating criminal profits, developing the EU anti-money laundering rules, promoting the early launch of financial investigations and assessing the current EU anti-corruption rules. 

Meeting the Challenges of the Digital Age  

With 80% of crimes now having a digital element, the Strategy makes it clear that law enforcement and the judiciary need swifter access to digital leads and evidence and must use modern technology and skills to keep up with modern criminal ways. The Commission will analyse and outline possible approaches to data retention and to ensuring access to encrypted information in criminal investigations while protecting the security and confidentiality of communications. 

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Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, international arbitration, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.

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