2000 European Union Organised Crime Report

2000 European Union Organised Crime Situation Report
Table of Contents

* Director’s Foreword

* Introduction

The Situation Concerning Organised Crime in the EU

* The Situation Concerning Organised Crime in the EU
* Organised Crime Groups
* Types of Crime
o Drug Trafficking Remains the Core Activity of Most Organised Crime Groups in the EU
o Illegal Immigration is Affecting all Member States
o Trafficking in Human Beings is a Major Problem for Most Member States
o Child Pornography is a Latent Organised Crime Problem
o Trafficking in Stolen Vehicles Attracts Large Organised Crime Attention
o Financial Crime is a Key Area of Organised Crime Involvement
o Commodity Smuggling is a Major Problem in the EU
o Document Forgery is a Matter of Concern
o Intellectual Property Theft Attracts Considerable Organised Crime Attention
o Cultural Property Theft Invites a Steady Organised Crime Involvement
o Other Forms of Theft Hold the Attention of Many Organised Crime Groups in the EU
o Envirinmental Crime is a Dormant Problem in Terms of Organised Crime Involvement
o High Technology Crime does not generally Draw much Organised Crime Attention
* Other Key Organised Crime Features
o Violence is a Persistent Problem in Organised Crime
o Corruption is a Key Part of Many Organised Crime Groups' Modus Operandi
o Organised Crime Groups Accumulate Large Resources Through their Criminal Activities

* Overall Patterns and General Trends

top of the page
The Threat from Organised Crime

* The Threat from Organised Crime
* Organised Crime Groups
* Types of Crime
* Law-Enforcement Responses

top of the page
Political and Law-Enforcement Initiatives

* Political and Law-Enforcement Initiatives
* Organised Crime in General
o UN Convention Against Organised Transnational Crime
o The Prevention and Control of Organised Crime: A European Strategy for the Beginning of the New Millennium
o European Crime Prevention
* Types of Crime
o European Action Plan to Combat Drugs 2000-04
o Other Initiatives Related to Drugs
o Illegal Immigration and Trafficking in Human Beings
o Combating Cyber Crime and Child Pornography on the Internet
o Combating Financial Crime
o Danish Initiative on Combating Serious Environmental Crime
* Cooperation and Third States
o Europol
o Regional Cooperation Ventures
o Training Related Law-Enforcement Initiatives
* Judicial Cooperation
o Eurojust
o Mutal Assistance in Criminal Matters
* Observations Concerning the Initiatives

top of the page

* Recommendations

top of the page

* Overview of the 1999 OCSR Recommendations
o Reiterated Recommendations from the 1998 OCSR
o 12 Newly Formulated Recommendations from the 1999 OCSR

top of the page
Director’s Foreword

It is with great pleasure that I present the public version of the 2000 European Union organised crime situation report. This report is primarily aimed at obtaining and disseminating information about organised crime in the European Union (EU) with a focus on its transnational manifestations, to support policy-makers and law enforcement decision-makers in their fight against organised crime.

Others could also benefit from this information, and therefore this report is made available to the public.

Organised crime groups pose a significant threat to the European Union. At least half of the organised crime groups in the EU are indigenous groups or dominated by nationals from the Member States. Indigenous organised crime groups still play the most important role concerning organised crime in the Member States and thus constitute the largest threat to the EU.

Besides indigenous organised crime groups, many non-indigenous groups also have a large negative impact on the crime scene of the EU, particularly regarding serious, transnational crime such as drug trafficking, financial crime, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, commodity smuggling and property crime, including intellectual property theft (IPT).

Both indigenous and non-indigenous organised crime groups — together with mixed or heterogeneous groups — increasingly span the whole of the EU in their criminal activities. Many organised crime groups consist of vast, European-wide networks with links to countries outside the EU, involved in a wide variety of crime.

The fact that cross-border cooperation between organised crime groups is growing is a matter of great concern, not only because it provides the groups with new criminal opportunities but also because it makes law-enforcement action more difficult. It is still the case that one of the principal obstacles to efficient law-enforcement action against organised crime is judicial limitations.

Borderless crime cannot efficiently be fought by law-enforcement agencies whose reach stays within national borders. Organised crime has shown its readiness to exploit this weakness, for instance by residing in one Member State and committing crime in another.

What is described above may result in law enforcement becoming less familiar with its target.

Such target unfamiliarity is compounded by the trend towards multi-crime and poly-drug activities.

In short, national law-enforcement organisations applying a crime area approach may face problems confronted with international criminals moving between types of crime. Confronted with such a threat from organised crime, the Member States have taken determined action to counter this menace to society. In parallel to national efforts, they are also employing a number of important international political and law enforcement initiatives and institutions, such as Europol; all of which acknowledge the need to tackle cross-border organised crime in a transnational environment.

One primary objective of the Member States in the future should be to work towards a comprehensive strategy to tackle organised crime together; to join forces in the same way as the EU so successfully has done in other areas such as economic and political cooperation.

Together, we can efficiently fight organised crime in the EU, and succeed in creating an area of freedom, security and justice.
top of the page
Introduction

In November 1993, the European Council took a decision that an annual strategic report should be published, providing insight into organised crime within the European Union (EU). In November 1994, the Council accepted that the production of this organised crime situation report (OCSR) was dependent upon contributions and analysis of information from the Member States. This concept was formalised as ‘a mechanism for the collection and systematic analysis of information on international organised crime’.

Three points were highlighted as essential in the fight against organised crime:

1. To ensure knowledge about criminal groups and their networks with the main objective of dismantling the organisations, in addition to the arrests of offenders;
2. To ensure that ‘criminal intelligence practice is oriented more to organisations and the criminal process as a whole’;
3. To ensure ‘policies that do not simply entail repressive action, but include preventive measures and proactive work, in which increasing use is made of knowledge and expertise gathered by governmental authorities, private enterprise, and science’.

Accordingly, an OCSR has been produced annually since 1994. From 1998, an open version has also been produced.

The primary aim of the report is to obtain and disseminate information about organised crime in the EU with a focus on its transnational manifestations.

However, it could also be used to support the formulation of an EU strategic policy for tackling organised crime internationally; support law-enforcement decision- makers in their prioritisation setting and resource allocation, and help law enforcement officers throughout the EU to appreciate the delicacies involved in organised crime in the EU. Furthermore, the public could also benefit from this knowledge.

This is reflected in the receivers of the report. The report is sent to law-enforcement agencies in the EU, but also to Ministries of the Interior and Justice. The open, public version is sent to the European Parliament. The open version is also made available to the public.

The report is primarily based on contributions from the Member States, describing the situation in 2000. A number of other sources of information, such as Europol documentation, extracts from reports from internationally recognised law-enforcement agencies such as ICPO/Interpol, together with open source material and other documentation have also been used together with the Member State contributions.

To assist in the process of compiling the report, meetings have been held between Europol and the multidisciplinary group on organised crime (MDG), and the contact and support network (CSN) under guidance of the Presidency of the EU.
top of the page
The Situation Concerning Organised Crime in the EU

Globalisation or internationalisation, the over-arching trend in global affairs, is both promoting and benefiting from economic and trade liberalisation. The possibility to communicate across the globe in seconds rather than in days or weeks has transformed the view of the world. The ‘global village’ has brought people closer together than ever before and created interdependent relationships where events in one part of the world have direct effects on others.

This international trend is paralleled in the EU with increasing mobility of both people, goods, money and services over open borders within the Community area. Open borders, a most revered value, has obvious side-effects. This transnationalisation provides criminals with access to new markets, suppliers, partners and routes at the same time as it decreases possibilities of control over cross-border transactions.

Organised crime groups have shown their readiness to take on these opportunities.

Organised crime is growing more transnational; cooperation between organised crime groups is increasing; large, international organised crime groups extend their operations worldwide, and even formerly nationally bound organised crime groups are increasingly becoming involved in international crime, at least at a regional level. An ever larger number of non-indigenous organised crime groups not only commit crimes in the EU, but also indirectly have an effect on the crime situation in the EU from outside its borders. Following this trend, the threat from non-indigenous organised crime groups to the EU will increase.

However, indigenous groups will continue to be the largest threat to the Member States in the foreseeable future.

From an EU perspective, serious, transnational and organised crime is the focus of attention. The one factor which most clearly distinguishes organised crime from crime in general is that it is organised. This may sound like a truism, but without this organisational dimension organised crime would be indistinguishable from other forms of profit-driven criminal activity, and therefore the organisational and group perspective is key to the study of this phenomenon.
top of the page
Organised Crime Groups

Organised crime groups pose a significant threat to the EU, as witnessed in their composition, nature, geographical spread and criminal activities.

Indigenous organised crime groups still play the most important role concerning organised crime in the Member States and thus constitute the largest threat to the EU, in particular concerning drug trafficking, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings and various forms of commodity smuggling, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Outlaw motorcycle groups are intrinsically linked to extortion in their criminal activities. They are also engaged in drug trafficking, various forms of commodity smuggling and prostitution.

Indigenous groups aside, many non-indigenous organised crime groups also have a large negative impact on the crime scene of the EU.

*

Albanian groups are mainly homogeneous and strictly hierarchical based on family links. Their propensity for violence is high. In addition to drug trafficking, where they have acquired a dominant position in many Member States, Albanian groups are extensively involved in illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, violent crimes, thefts and burglaries.
*

Chinese organised crime groups are mainly involved in illegal immigration. They also feature in, for instance, intellectual property theft (IPT) and heroin smuggling. Generally, they are fairly insular. There are several examples where Chinese organised crime groups are cooperating with other ethnic groups, and there are also examples of Chinese criminals directing their activities against people outside the Chinese community.
*

Colombian organised crime groups are no longer organised in large, monolithic cartels but rather in smaller, more adaptable cells. Whilst keeping strong links with groups in Colombia, Colombian groups in the EU are ready to cooperate with others. They are chiefly involved in cocaine trafficking from Colombia into the EU.
*

Nigerian organised crime groups, professionally sophisticated yet primarily based on tribal patterns, are mainly engaged in fraud, prostitution and drug trafficking. In general, the threat posed by West African groups is characterised by their readiness to combine the best of both modern and older worlds by allying sophisticated forms of modern technology to tribal customs.
*

North African organised crime groups are mainly involved in drug trafficking (primarily cannabis), property crime (including trafficking in stolen vehicles), trafficking in human beings and illegal immigration. Many of these groups are well organised.
*

Russian organised crime groups in the EU are predominantly involved in drug trafficking, violent crime, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, cigarette smuggling and money laundering. Russian organised crime from Russia itself targets the EU mainly for financial reasons (investment, money laundering) and refuge.
*

Turkish organised crime groups are hierarchical and mainly homogeneous. The main criminal activities of Turkish organised crime groups are drug-related crime, financial crime, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings and prostitution.

Although great differences exist between the Member States, some generalisations about organised crime groups are nonetheless possible to make. A majority of the organised crime groups within the EU consist of some 10 to 15 members. Most of the groups have a fixed delegation of tasks; with a few exceptions a fixed composition of members — particularly concerning core members — and they have also often been in operation for several years. The groups are often heterogeneous, involving members from several Member States or ethnic groups; internationally active; mainly hierarchical and using some form of internal discipline for group cohesion. In short, the groups reported by the Member States well fulfil most of the 11 organised crime criteria established by the EU, including the mandatory ones.

At least half of the organised crime groups in the EU are indigenous groups or dominated by nationals from the Member States.

The groups are mainly involved in drug trafficking, fraud and money laundering, but other forms of trafficking are also well represented in their activities, including illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, alcohol and tobacco smuggling, trafficking in cars, weapons and other commodities.

Criminal groups seldom concentrate on a single criminal activity. They often engage in various activities. For example, drug trafficking is often combined with other activities such as fraud, money laundering and illegal immigration. The same is true within the drug field itself: groups often engage in combined activities in different types of drugs.

Criminal groups do not, on the whole, confine their operations within national borders. At the same time, the members of the criminal groups are themselves often likely to be of different nationalities. Heterogeneous groups consisting of suspects from different countries have become the rule rather than the exception.

There is a high degree of international cooperation between the groups; even between organised crime groups earlier considered insular and self-sufficient (for instance Albanian, Chinese and Turkish groups).

Criminal groups often employ business-like principles to their operations which are regularly based on conscious calculations of risks and opportunities. Specialists are frequently hired for specific tasks, and groups use high technological means for their work, inter alia, for safer communication.
top of the page
Types of Crime
Drug Trafficking Remains the Core Activity of Most Organised Crime Groups in the EU.

Drug trafficking involves both indigenous and non-indigenous groups, mainly Turkish, Albanian and Colombian. A large number of groups are heterogeneous in their composition and they frequently cooperate with others.

There have been some changes in the drug markets within the Member States. However, on a general level it seems that synthetic drugs trafficking is attracting the attention of a larger number of organised crime groups than before.

Heroin mainly arrives from Afghanistan, cocaine from Colombia and cannabis from Morocco (although other countries, for instance Albania, are also important source countries). Synthetic drugs are predominantly produced within the EU, chiefly in The Netherlands but also in Belgium, Germany, Spain and the UK. Some countries in Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Lithuania) are also important source countries.

The Balkan route remains one of the most important transit routes, primarily for heroin into the EU, but drugs also enter the EU via, mainly, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Portugal.
top of the page
Illegal Immigration is Affecting all Member States

Illegal immigration has increased in parts of the EU, for instance in Spain and Italy. Favourite destination countries in the EU include Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

The majority of the organised crime groups which are involved in illegal immigration are non-indigenous groups, mainly Afghan, Albanian, Chinese, Iranian, Iraqi, Nigerian, Pakistani, Russian, Turkish and Yugoslavian groups.

The major source countries of illegal immigrants are countries in Africa (Nigeria, but also Angola, Guinea, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Somalia), Asia (Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Turkey), Central and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Former Yugoslavia, the Ukraine) and south-Eastern Europe (Albania).

Favoured trafficking routes include the Balkan route (from Turkey into Italy, Greece, Austria and Germany); Mediterranean routes (from North Africa into Spain, Italy but also Greece), and routes from Russia via central Europe into Austria and Germany.
top of the page
Trafficking in Human Beings is a Major Problem for Most Member States

Not only is trafficking in human beings a major problem in the EU; it has also grown significantly in, for instance, Italy. Since victims are regularly moved between Member States it is difficult to identify favourite destination countries. However, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France are especially vulnerable.

Albanian organised crime groups are particularly active in trafficking in human beings, together with groups from other parts of Central and Eastern Europe (for instance Romanians, Hungarians, Lithuanians and Poles). Turkish, Chinese and Nigerian organised crime groups are also very much active in this criminal field, and the Lebanon, Iran and Azerbaijan are regularly mentioned in this context.

The victims are generally brought in by offenders of the same nationality. However, Albanian organised crime groups vary victims, in particular from countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Victims usually come from Central and Eastern Europe (Albania, the Baltic States and Russia); Africa (Nigeria), Latin America (Brazil) and Asia (Thailand).

The victims often know that they are going to work within the sex industry, but they are not aware of the very harsh conditions under which they are to be employed. Violence is often used against the women (and in some cases children), in some cases also at the recruitment stage.
top of the page
Child Pornography is a Latent Organised Crime Problem

Child pornography is still a domain dominated by individuals or networks which cannot be defined as organised crime groups. However, some organised crime groups are reportedly being attracted by the field, not because they are themselves paedophiles but because of the profits which can be made through the distribution of child pornographic material.
top of the page
Trafficking in Stolen Vehicles Attracts Large Organised Crime Attention

Some 1.2 million cars were reported stolen in the EU in 2000, 470 000 of which were not recovered. Many of the stolen cars are trafficked within the EU. However, a large proportion also goes abroad, primarily to Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Indigenous groups are mainly responsible for trafficking in stolen vehicles, although they have established contacts with organised crime groups outside the EU.

Car-jacking or home-jacking are used for stealing cars in a number of cases, no doubt in response to new security features in the cars, for instance immobilisers. Some groups seem to have the technical expertise to re-programme immobilisers.
top of the page
Financial Crime is a Key Area of Organised Crime Involvement

After drug trafficking, financial crime is the most important type of crime engaging organised crime, in particular money laundering and fraud.

Money laundering is an integral part of organised crime and the number of reports of suspicious transactions has increased in most Member States. Drug trafficking is the most important predicate crime. However, in Sweden it is fraud. Money laundering usually takes place in bureaux de change and money transmission agencies. However, any cash-based business is favoured for money laundering, including pubs, restaurants and discotheques. In some cases, money is moved through underground banking systems such as the hawala or hundi.

Currency counterfeiting has increased in many Member States. There has been a shift away from lithographic plate printing to the use of inkjet printers and colour copiers. The quality of the counterfeited notes has increased following developments in both computer and printing techniques. Counterfeit money can be sold as any other commodity rather than being put into circulation by the counterfeiters themselves.

Mostly indigenous organised crime groups are involved in a wide variety of fraud. After drug trafficking, this is the most important area of criminal engagement of organised crime groups. VAT, excise and customs fraud are particularly attracting organised crime, particularly in so-called carousel fraud, but so is Community budget fraud, payment card fraud, investment and advance payment fraud and other forms of serious fraud including benefit fraud and Inland Revenue fraud. Nigerian and other West African organised crime groups are traditionally involved in investment and advance fee fraud, but they also engage in, for instance, identity fraud.
top of the page
Commodity Smuggling is a Major Problem in the EU

Commodity smuggling has grown exponentially throughout the EU since the abolition of intra-Community borders in 1993. Almost everything can and is being smuggled, including alcohol, tobacco, works of art and antiques, fuel and guns. Weapons mainly come from Central and Eastern Europe, including the Balkans. Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia have been observed as source countries of disguised firearms in the shape of, for instance, mobile phones and pens.

Smuggling is largely the domain of indigenous organised crime groups, however many groups from other countries are also involved, in particular groups from source or transit countries such as Lithuania, Montenegro and China.
top of the page
Document Forgery is a Matter of Concern

Document forgery is commonly connected with other types of crime such as illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, fraud and commodity smuggling. The facilitation of these crimes has become easier following developments in computer and printing techniques.
top of the page
Intellectual Property Theft Attracts Considerable Organised Crime Attention

Intellectual property theft (IPT) involves virtually everything which can be plagiarised for profit. Audio and software CDs, and other digital media are particularly vulnerable to IPT due to the simplicity in manufacturing and distribution. Asia, in particular China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand, is the cradle of IPT, but it certainly takes place elsewhere as well, involving a large number of different organised crime groups.
top of the page
Cultural Property Theft Invites a Steady Organised Crime Involvement

Cultural property theft is a great problem in particular to countries which possess a large number of valuable works of art and antiques such as Italy and France. It has also increased in Portugal. The main source of articles seems to be private houses and churches.

International trafficking in such goods has grown in part because of expanding global trade and travel and the EU single market. Trade between the EU, the US and Japan is of a particular concern.
top of the page
Other Forms of Theft Hold the Attention of Many Organised Crime Groups in the EU

Various forms of thefts, including armed robberies, seem to have increased in several Member States. The number of burglaries increased sharply in France in 2000, and ram-raids have become more common. The number of lorry load thefts has also risen, and Belgium notes the importance of container thefts.

The majority of thefts and armed robberies are committed by indigenous organised crime groups although the involvement of non-indigenous groups is also a matter for concern.
top of the page
Envirinmental Crime is a Dormant Problem in Terms of Organised Crime Involvement

Environmental crime seldom attracts the attention of organised crime groups. In some cases, organised crime groups are known to be involved in trafficking in endangered species and the dumping of hazardous waste. In the latter case, it seems more appropriate to talk about ‘organisation crime’ where businesses are cutting corners to reduce costs.

Some trafficking in hazardous waste takes place between Eastern Europe and the EU, Italy in particular, and from the EU to Africa (Somalia, Malawi, Zaire, Sudan, Eritrea and Algeria).
top of the page
High Technology Crime does not generally Draw much Organised Crime Attention

In the main, high technology crime (specifically attacks on computer networks) does not appear to be the work of organised crime groups. Partly, this is because their potential for causing harm or mischief is easier to see than their potential use for profit. There is little or no involvement of organised crime in such types of computer crime as the spreading of viruses, denial of service attacks or hacking, unless they can be used for extortion purposes or, if data can be extracted, such as payment card details, which can then be used fraudulently.

High technology crime includes new types of crime (‘cyber crime’, for instance data streaming of payment card details), traditional types of crime (for instance fraud and prostitution) using new tools, for instance for targeting customers or victims, and safe(r) communications for organised crime groups, for instance Internet communication and encryption.
top of the page
Other Key Organised Crime Features
Violence is a Persistent Problem in Organised Crime

The threat or use of violence is a prerequisite for some crimes (extortion, armed robberies) and a supporting activity for others (inter alia, trafficking in human beings). Violence is used in the preparation of crime, the commission of crime and the ‘post-commission phase’ (for instance to conceal the primary offence).

Most organised crime groups have some form of internal discipline based on violence. However, violence is also directed at other criminal groups or individuals outside the criminal sphere, for instance to silence witnesses. Albanians (Kosovo), Russians, Poles, Turks, Vietnamese and outlaw motorcycle groups are especially prone to violence. The threat or use of violence seems to have increased in some Member States.
top of the page
Corruption is a Key Part of Many Organised Crime Groups' Modus Operandi

Corruption is an efficient way of acquiring, hindering access to or preventing the use of information, either to conceal or facilitate crime. A number of cases of corruption/undue influence were revealed in 2000. Focus was mostly on the business community, although several times public officials, including law-enforcement officials and police officers, were targeted.
top of the page
Organised Crime Groups Accumulate Large Resources Through their Criminal Activities

Organised crime groups accumulate large resources through their criminal activities.

Resources amassed by organised crime cannot be reliably estimated. However, the losses to society should be counted in billions of euro annually, and the same is true for the profits made by organised crime groups.

A large part of the criminal proceeds is reinvested in both legal and illegal businesses. The use of companies fulfils many purposes apart from the obvious one of being profit generating in itself. For instance, companies are used for drug trafficking, prostitution, money laundering, fraud and the handling of stolen cars.

A great variety of firms are used for criminal purposes, but some of the more prominent include import/export firms; the catering business and hotels; transport firms and travel agencies, and an assortment of clubs such as discotheques and night clubs.
top of the page
Overall Patterns and General Trends

Organised crime has, in various forms, permeated virtually every part of the world. Its visibility on political agendas across the globe contrasts with its invisibility as a phenomenon. Not only is organised crime difficult to capture theoretically or within a stringent methodological shroud; it is also difficult to portray due to its inherent flexibility and adaptability in both organisation and action. Flexibility and entrepreneurialism seem to be the functional cornerstones of modern organised crime, resulting in large, monolithic groups being increasingly replaced by smaller, more accommodating networks.

Because of the inherent flexibility of organised crime, it is many times difficult to isolate to what extent certain nationalities are involved in specific organised crime groups or particular types of crime. However, what is evident is that both indigenous and non-indigenous organised crime groups — together with mixed or heterogeneous groups — increasingly span the whole of the EU in their criminal activities. Many organised crime groups consist of vast, European-wide networks with links to countries outside the EU. For instance, Albanian, Turkish and Colombian organised crime groups span the whole of the EU whilst maintaining strong links with their home countries.

Organised crime groups increasingly move their criminal activities to an international level, either in isolation or in cooperation with other groups. Cooperation is even growing between formerly insular and self-sufficient groups such as Albanian, Chinese and Turkish groups. In fact, an increasing number of groups are heterogeneous, composed of nationals from many Member States or ethnic groups. The fact that cross-border cooperation between organised crime groups is growing is a matter of great concern, not only because it provides the groups with new criminal opportunities but also because it makes law-enforcement action more difficult.

It is still the case that one of the principal obstacles to efficient law-enforcement action against organised crime is judicial limitations. Borderless crime cannot efficiently be fought by law-enforcement agencies whose reach stays within national borders. Organised crime has shown its readiness to exploit this weakness, for instance by residing in one Member State and committing crime in another, or by moving regularly between Member States in their criminal pursuit. Many criminals are also known to take refuge in other Member States. These trends are expected to continue.

What is described above often results in target unfamiliarity. Such unfamiliarity is compounded by the trend towards multi-crime and poly-drug activities. In short, national law-enforcement organisations applying a crime area approach may face problems confronted with international criminals moving between types of crime.

Concerning multi-crime, it is noticeable that several organised crime groups increasingly seem to mix low- and high-risk activities, for instance drug trafficking alongside cigarette smuggling. To some extent, this is the result of the move towards multi-crime involvement, where many organised crime groups are specialising in one certain part of a whole criminal chain, for instance transport. A group specialised in transport will ship whatever there is to smuggle, including drugs, people and guns. Some organised crime groups even give their members special training, such as groups committed to ram-raids.

This specialisation is part of the overall pattern towards business-like behaviour displayed by most organised crime groups. Like any international business, organised crime groups tend to build up networks throughout the EU and elsewhere, with suppliers, transporters and other specialists linked along the way. This requires a great deal of management and cunning business skills where conscious calculation of risks and profit forms the basis for future operations.

Organised crime groups are using IT tools to an increasing extent to commit their crimes, and as a means to cover up their actions or criminal proceeds. In their business, organised crime groups to an increasing extent also hire specialists for specific purposes, for instance solicitors, computer experts or economists, to enhance both the safety of their criminal operations and the profits to be made. In the search for profit, money is invested in legal or semi-legal businesses which blurs the distinction between criminal and legal activities of the groups. The mixing of legal and illegal activities is a trademark of organised crime groups.

Partly as a result of this, organised crime groups — or at least the leading levels of such groups — tend to be increasingly well integrated into the societies in which they live and act. They also try to keep a lower profile to detract law-enforcement attention. This is so for both indigenous and non-indigenous criminals.

Corruption is also used in many cases for similar purposes. Corruption is an efficient way of obtaining, hindering access to or thwarting the use of information, either to conceal or facilitate crime. Corruption is often aimed at the business community, but also the public sector including police officers and other law-enforcement officials. Corruption will continue to be an important tool for organised crime.

Not all organised crime groups strive for a low profile and respectability. Some groups still see the advantage in a reputation for violence, and frequently display their detachment from society. In addition, the activities of certain, if not all, organised crime groups provide compelling evidence that organised crime as a whole has not turned into business as it is traditionally understood. The violence directed at victims of trafficking in human beings, many times in the form of systematic and collective rape; the degradation of children preyed on by paedophiles; the pain of innocent targets of robberies and burglaries, and the distress of intimidated witnesses, also facing threats to their families — all of these factors vehemently oppose the idea of the gentleman thief.

In the end, profit is the driving force behind most organised crime engagement in criminal activities. Profit, defined as the accumulation of wealth, would probably better describe the basis and outcome of their activities. On a low level, any profit will of course do, but it is the accumulation of all this money which drives organised crime groups and also makes them the threat they are. Although it is difficult to properly asses the amounts of money generated by organised crime, it is a safe assumption to view it in terms of billions of euros annually.

Against the background of some of the factors described above, it is safe to say that the problem of organised crime is a considerable threat to the EU, and that it is growing.

Concerning the types of crime the criminal groups are involved in, some patterns are clearly discernible.

Drugs are still attracting the overwhelming interest of most organised crime groups, and the involvement by organised crime in drug trafficking is growing. As noted above, within the drug field, there is a continuing trend towards ‘cocktail’ or poly-drug trafficking rather than a focus on only one drug. The one drug which seems to attract an ever larger interest is synthetic drugs in all its forms, mainly ecstasy.

Illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings are both increasing. There is little evidence supporting the view that the increase will not continue in the future. As long as poverty, social and political instability and other push factors do not change substantially, together with pull factors such as employment opportunities and perceived safety in the EU, people will continue to be moved into the EU, either willingly or as victims of trafficking in human beings.

Organised crime finally seems to have moved into child pornography, not necessarily because they are themselves paedophiles but because of the profits they see can be made through the distribution of child pornographic material. On the basis of the limited amounts of information available, it is difficult to ascertain the thrust of this development. However, if substantial profits can be expected in this area, organised crime groups will continue to provide such material to prospective buyers.

Some countries in central Europe, notably Poland, have moved away from being solely transit countries of stolen vehicles to become destination countries. Otherwise, trafficking in stolen vehicles seems to be a fairly stable phenomenon, together with theft. The same cannot be said about other forms of commodity smuggling which, following the abolition of Community borders in January 1993, has grown exponentially throughout the EU. Commodity smuggling, in particular alcohol and tobacco, attracts increasing attention from a large number of organised crime groups throughout the EU.

Financial crime — especially fraud and money laundering — is also attracting an increased interest from organised crime groups. Money laundering is an integral part of organised crime; however, it seems that after drug trafficking, fraud is the one area which attracts most organised crime groups. VAT fraud, excise fraud, customs fraud and Community budget fraud seem to be particularly appealing. Counterfeiting is also likely to increase.

The introduction of the euro in 2002 will present criminals with new opportunities. Money laundering will be facilitated by the EUR 500 note which will enable the movement of large amounts of money in fairly small physical batches. The EUR 500 note is set to become a favourite denomination for counterfeiters.

Forgery of documents continues to be a problem, especially in conjunction with other types of crime. Intellectual property theft, however, is set to explode following technological developments and the ease with which digital reproductions in particular can be moved throughout the world. Technological developments also account for rising levels of high technology crime.

Environmental crime attracts only marginal attention from organised crime, and the trafficking in radioactive waste even more so. The demand for endangered species seems to be at a stable level, and companies wanting to cut corners by dumping hazardous waste do not seem to require any substantial organised crime support.

Concerning other key organised crime features, it seems that the threat or use of violence is increasing in some Member States. This will probably be the case also in the future, although whether or not the witnessed trend of violence in connection with financial crime continues remains to be seen.

Corruption is also witnessed in many Member States, but the level of undue influence seems to be quite stable. Nonetheless, corruption will continue to be a key instrument for organised crime groups.

No particular trends can be discerned concerning resources and the use of commercial structures. This is to a large extent due to the problems of reporting on damages caused by organised crime and the vast variety of companies which are used by criminals in their activities.
top of the page
The Threat from Organised Crime

Irrespective of how the threat from organised crime is measured, for instance in economic, political, legal or social terms, it is a formidable force challenging the Member States. The main threats facing law enforcement in the EU include:
top of the page
Organised Crime Groups

*

indigenous groups, in particular due to their international manifestations;
*

closed ethnic organised crime groups such as (Kosovo) Albanian, Colombian, Polish, Russian and Turkish groups;
*

the increased levels of transnational cooperation between organised crime groups, providing them with new criminal opportunities and structures for moving commodities and people from source to destination country and between the Member States.

top of the page
Types of Crime

*

the steady developing multi-crime environment, especially concerning drugs;
*

the large and increasing involvement of organised crime groups in drug trafficking, inter alia, synthetic drugs;
*

the increasing involvement of organised crime groups in illegal immigration;
*

the increasing involvement of organised crime groups in trafficking in human beings;
*

the still large organised crime involvement in trafficking in stolen vehicles;
*

a growing involvement of organised crime groups in financial crime, especially various forms of fraud (among others VAT, excise and customs fraud) and money laundering, but also in currency counterfeiting;
*

extensive commodity smuggling by organised crime groups, inter alia, of alcohol and tobacco;
*

a significant organised crime involvement in various forms of property crime, including intellectual property theft (IPT);
*

the widespread and growing use of high technology equipment assisting organised crime groups both to perpetrate ‘new’ crimes; ‘old’ crimes in new ways, and to better conceal their criminal endeavours.

top of the page
Law-enforcement Responses

*

judicial limitations, in that borderless crime cannot effectively be countered by law-enforcement agencies whose reach is bound by national borders;
*

law enforcement target unfamiliarity with organised crime groups, as a result of, for instance, the growing internationalisation of crime; the increasing flexibility of organised crime groups; the increasing reach of many organised crime groups, and their growing mobility;
*

limitations in both availability of information concerning organised crime, and information sharing and intelligence dissemination between the Member States, reinforcing the target unfamiliarity noted above;
*

the lack of joint action between the Member States, reinforced by, and reinforcing, the target unfamiliarity and limitations in information collection and dissemination noted above.

In the end, law enforcement is facing a formidable opponent. The opponent is utterly flexible, mobile and fluid in composition; ready to undertake any profitable criminal enterprise; essentially unbound by national borders or, increasingly, ethnic belonging; well rehearsed in providing goods and services to criminal markets, and making the most of technological and other developments in their activities.

As observed many times before, the greatest obstacle to efficient law-enforcement action against organised crime rests in judicial limitations. Conversely, the greatest advantage is to make the best use of the many tools that are at the disposal to crime-fighting agencies, especially at a common EU level, to meet organised crime in a transnational, highly flexible and professional fashion.
top of the page
Political and Law-Enforcement Initiatives

A great number of initiatives concerning organised crime have been taken in international fora such as the UN, the Council of Europe, the G7/8 and the EU. This chapter focuses on political and law-enforcement initiatives concerning the fight against organised crime at the EU level. Comments are also made about other international initiatives (for instance, work by the UN) and regional cooperation ventures in Europe. The chapter is an essential part of the overall assessment of the situation concerning organised crime in the EU.

Of course, it is not possible to describe all initiatives taken concerning organised crime. However, the intention is that the most important ones are addressed and that they together show the impressive and important work being done in the field.

The presentation of the various initiatives is followed by a brief discussion.
top of the page
Organised Crime in General
UN Convention Against Organised Transnational Crime

In December 2000, Mr Vitorino signed, on behalf of the European Community, in parallel with the 15 Member States’ individual signatures, the UN Convention Against Organised Transnational Crime and its annexed protocols on combating the trade in people, especially women and children, and the trafficking of illegal immigrants by land, air and sea. It emphasises the fight against illegal immigration and slavery. The convention further urges the abolition of bank secrecy and numbered accounts in relation to criminal activities, the confiscation of goods from illegal sources, the facilitation of extradition of criminals and the protection of witnesses.
top of the page
The Prevention and Control of Organised Crime: A European Strategy for the Beginning of the New Millennium

‘The prevention and control of organised crime: A European strategy for the beginning of the new millennium’ was adopted by the European Council on 27 March 2000. It replaced the programme approved by the Amsterdam European Council in 1997, and constitutes a response to the request by the Vienna European Council for EU action against organised crime to be stepped up in the light of the new possibilities offered by the Amsterdam Treaty. The new strategy entails 11 measures, among others, the pooling and upgrading of databases and analysis, an enhanced partnership between the criminal justice system and civil society, the reviewing and improving of instruments already adopted at the national and EU level, the boosting of Europol’s role and strengthened cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities, not only in the EU.
top of the page
European Crime Prevention

In connection with the implementation of the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, the European Council adopted a decision on setting up a European crime prevention network. On 29 November 2000, the European Commission presented a communication on crime prevention, together with a draft decision on a financial programme focusing on urban, juvenile, drug-related crimes and other forms of serious crimes. The strategy which the European Commission proposed is also aimed at improving knowledge about the phenomena of crime, networking and partnerships. In parallel to the network, the European Commission established the forum on organised crime prevention, focusing more specifically on organised crime. The European Commission also initiated a financial programme called Hippocrates which would support the pursuit of these objectives.
top of the page
Types of Crime
European Action Plan to Combat Drugs 2000-04

The European action plan to combat drugs 2000–04, adopted by the European Council in December 1999 and endorsed in June 2000, constitutes a comprehensive, integrated response to the drugs phenomenon, transposing the EU antidrugs strategy (2000–04) into a series of specific activities to be undertaken by all EU institutions and the Member States. The action plan1 continues the integrated and balanced strategy followed so far, but it aims to make full use of the new legal possibilities offered by the Treaty of Amsterdam.

1. The plan is structured around five main areas of operation: improvements in the supply of information, demand reduction, supply reduction (combating illegal trafficking), international cooperation and coordination between various interests.
top of the page
Other Initiatives Related to Drugs

A number of other initiatives concerning drugs were also taken at the EU level in 2000. For instance, the European Council presented a draft of the EU–central Asia action plan to combat drugs. It also encouraged interested Member States to examine the possibility of exchanging information about emerging trends in drug abuse and poly-drug use and the associated risks by participating in an 18-month pilot project. It invited Europol and the European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, under their respective mandates, to cooperate in this pilot project.
top of the page
Illegal Immigration and Trafficking in Human Beings

In September 2000, France submitted a draft directive and a draft framework decision on defining and strengthening the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry into, and residence in the EU. It also presented an initiative with a view to the adoption of a directive concerning the harmonisation of financial penalties imposed on carriers, transporting to the territory of the Member States, third-country nationals lacking appropriate documents. The European Commission supplemented the initiatives by outlining a global strategy for combating trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children, together with two framework proposals on the approximation of national criminal laws in December. On 30 November and 1 December, the European Council adopted a series of conclusions concerning the fight against illegal immigration networks, including the development of early warning systems.
top of the page
Combating Cyber Crime and Child Pornography on the Internet

During autumn 2000, the establishment of a cyber-crime forum was proposed in a communication from the European Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament. The aim is to join interested parties to enhance cooperation and mutual understanding at the EU level concerning cyber-crime related topics.

On 29 May 2000, the European Council intensified measures to prevent and combat the production, processing, distribution and possession of child pornographic material on the Internet, mainly by means of police cooperation, for instance by promoting the effective investigation and prosecution of offences. Europol will be informed of suspected cases of child pornography within the scope of its mandate. On 14 December, the European Commission proposed the establishment of a second phase of the programme concerning exchanges, training and cooperation for persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (STOPII).
top of the page
Combating Financial Crime

In October 2000, the European Council undertook an initial review of accomplishments in the area of combating financial crime, concluding that despite significant progress, the efforts should be continued. The European Council considered it necessary to abolish barriers to criminal investigations for tax reasons and reaffirmed its position that bank secrecy in particular should not be invoked against judicial authorities. Member States were also called on to create or strengthen centralised multidisciplinary national bodies specifically dedicated to the fight against money laundering. The European Council also made a decision that sets out arrangements for cooperation between financial intelligence units (FIUs)2 concerning the exchange of information to assist the competent national authorities in the fight against money laundering.

2. The FIUs established in each Member State are responsible for receiving, analysing and disseminating to the competent authorities disclosures of financial information which concern suspected proceeds of crime or are required by national legislation or regulation.
top of the page
Danish Initiative on Combating Serious Environmental Crime

On 11 February 2000, Denmark presented an initiative on combating serious environmental crime, which aims at responding to its increasing scale, establishing minimum rules on the elements constituting criminal infringements and the applicable sanctions. The Member States are also urged to ensure that law-enforcement authorities can investigate and prosecute serious environmental crime. A proposal for a European Council framework decision on combating serious environmental crime, although subject to some amendments, was endorsed by the European Parliament on 7 July.
top of the page
Cooperation and Third States
Europol

Many of the initiatives taken in 2000 invite transnational cooperation channelled through Europol and other transnational organisations. The role of Europol was emphasised in connection with many initiatives. Moreover, Portugal initiated an extension of the competencies of Europol to money laundering in general irrespective of the predicate offence3, and France, in turn, an extension of Europol’s mandate to computer crime. The European Council recommended that the Member States should deal with all requests from Europol to initiate, conduct or coordinate investigations in specific cases and should give such requests due consideration. A further element of this recommendation was that Europol should be informed about whether or not the requested investigation would be initiated and the results of such investigations.

On 27 March 2000, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs allowed Europol to negotiate agreements with third states or organisations, taking into account that priority should be given to the EU candidate States, the Schengen partners (Norway and Iceland), Switzerland and Interpol4.

3. The proposal was accepted and awaits ratification by all Member States. Today, Europol’s competencies regarding money laundering are limited to the other Europol mandated areas.

4. On 28 June 2001, cooperation agreements were signed with Iceland and Norway. The agreement with Interpol was signed on 5 November. Treaties with Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Slovenia were signed in October.
top of the page
Regional Cooperation Ventures

On 27 March 2000 the European Council adopted an action plan with Russia on combating organised crime; focusing on the promotion of judicial and law-enforcement cooperation. Particular attention is given to measures to combat corruption, money laundering, and trafficking in human beings, drugs and weapons. The importance of this is also noted by other international and regional bodies including the G8, the Council of Europe and the Baltic Sea task force against organised crime.

In its relations with the western Balkans, The EU continued to develop its regional approach via the stabilisation and association process and the Stability Pact for south-Eastern Europe launched in 1999, and via technical and financial assistance5. Negotiations were also launched concerning a stabilisation and association agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The EU further adopted common strategies for Russia and the Ukraine to support economic development and the process of political change underway in these countries.

5. For instance, ‘The programme against corruption and organised crime in south-Eastern Europe’ (PACO), the first part of which was launched in February 2000 and the second part concerning organised crime in October 2000.
top of the page
Training Related Law-Enforcement Initiatives

The European Police College (CEPOL), initiated by Portugal in July 2000, was established in December the same year to help train senior police officers of the Member States. It aims at increasing the knowledge of national police systems and structures of other Member States, of Europol and of cross-border cooperation within the EU, and to strengthen the knowledge of international instruments, in particular those which already exist in the EU in the field of cooperation on combating crime.

This links, together with the decisions adopted concerning the OISIN II programme, aimed at encouraging cooperation between the law-enforcement services of the Member States, and the Grotius II programme, aim to stimulate mutual knowledge of legal and judicial systems, and to facilitate general judicial and criminal cooperation between the Member States.
top of the page
Judicial Cooperation
Eurojust

To give effect to the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal and Sweden launched initiatives6 with a view to adopting a European Council decision about the setting up of the judicial cooperation organisation, Eurojust. The task of this unit, composed of prosecutors, magistrates or police officers seconded from the Member States, is to contribute to the effective coordination of national authorities responsible for prosecution and to give support in investigations into cases of organised crime. On 22 November, the European Commission proposed several new elements with a view to increase the added value of Eurojust and to make it as useful, flexible and efficient as possible. On 14 December, the European Council, following an initiative from Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal and Sweden, also adopted a decision establishing a provisional judicial cooperation unit which should stimulate and improve the coordination of investigations and prosecutions between Member States until Eurojust is set up.

6. Germany on 19 July 2000, other initiators on 24 August 2000.
top of the page
Mutal Assistance in Criminal Matters

The Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the EU was adopted on 29 May 2000 by the Justice and Home Affairs Council. The convention supplements existing arrangements and covers a large number of issues, including the procedures and formalities whereby assistance is afforded, specific forms of mutual assistance, interception of telecommunications and data protection. It also allows the establishment of joint investigative teams, and the creation of the European Police Chiefs task force (PCTF) and (Pro) Eurojust7. Only three months later, France published an initiative for improving mutual assistance in criminal matters, in particular in the area of combating organised crime, money laundering and financial crime.

7. Provisional unit for cooperation between justice systems.
top of the page
Observations Concerning the Initiatives

As witnessed above, a number of important steps were taken in the fight against organised crime in 2000. Not least the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime signified that the problem and the need for a global strategy was recognised worldwide.

The political priorities in the EU in 2000 were in line with the UN convention. There seemed to exist not only a considerable agreement on the priorities, but continuity as well. For instance, the conclusions from the Tampere European Council meeting in October 1999 were frequently referred to in the political and legal initiatives taken by both the Portuguese and French presidencies. Both presidencies also took many initiatives regarding financial crime, for instance money laundering and, following the tragic events in Dover8 (as well as taking account of the conclusions from the Tampere European Council), focused on illegal immigration, emphasising the importance of a coherent approach and the need to intensify cooperation among law-enforcement agencies and with third countries. The European Parliament shared their concerns — at least if concluded from the basis of its resolutions which were mainly supportive. The only source of criticism seemed to be the fact that the European Parliament had not been consulted on the new action plan on the prevention and control of organised crime.

Organised crime often involves problems that cannot be met by law enforcement alone. The need for constructive and widely based long-term action plans and a cross-pillar approach to organised crime seems to be well recognised at the EU level. However, this means a challenge to the coordination of various activities. Within the sphere of law enforcement alone, there seems to be a certain lack of coordination which needs to be overcome. Important high-level initiatives taken in 2000 require careful elaboration regarding the coordination of further action and its implementation.

Concerning recommended measures within law enforcement, the need for cooperation between Member State law-enforcement authorities and sometimes with third countries and international organisations was recognised in all initiatives presented. There also seemed to be a trend to further institutionalise law-enforcement cooperation. In 2000, the role of Europol was further strengthened and a new body, Eurojust, with powers to combat organised crime was established. The European Police College, CEPOL, can be considered a part of this development as well. Institutionalisation also took other ‘looser’ forms in 2000, for instance the proposals for the European crime prevention network.

The effects of the developments described above remain to be seen, and the implementation thereof will also have to be evaluated. However, they do not challenge, or in any way change, the fact that the national level is the most critical one regarding the implementation of these and similar initiatives. The EU level is not always even suitable, which is acknowledged also within its own supranational bodies. For instance, the European Commission did not support the joint action calling for new synthetic drugs controls relating to ketamine and GHB, because it was not considered appropriate to propose control measures at an EU level.

Regarding the efficiency of law-enforcement cooperation at the national level and the implementation of common EU initiatives, a procedure worth particular consideration is the mechanism for evaluating the application and implementation at national level of international undertakings in the fight against organised crime. The topics for the two first rounds of the evaluations were the operation of the system for mutual legal assistance and urgent requests for the seizure of assets, with particular focus on cases involving organised crime. The second round of the exercise was completed in 2000. The evaluations confirmed that there were inconsistencies in the implementation practices between the Member States. For instance, the common criteria both for the application of the term ‘urgent’, and the interpretation of this term, was not applied throughout the Member States.

The evaluations were able to highlight not only areas where experts and the MDG considered that improvements could be made to the system of international judicial cooperation, but also areas where there were particular strengths which other Member States could benefit from through best practices. On the basis of these thorough evaluations, the MDG was able to make a number of practical recommendations. Member States approached the evaluations in a very positive manner and were receptive to its recommendations.

Despite the impressive results which have been achieved in the fight against organised crime in 2000, there are some questions which need further attention. They include:

*

prioritisation;
*

coordination; and
*

implementation.

Successful prioritisation requires an explicit mechanism for the setting of objectives concerning the focus, perspective and approach of law enforcement in the common fight against organised crime. In short, priorities based on careful long term planning allow more structured and proactive law-enforcement measures. This work is facilitated by common standards concerning terminology used and harmonised, EU-wide information collection mechanisms. Important steps have been taken in this direction but the work needs to continue, facilitated by EUwide bodies such as the PCTF.

Coordination is required to spell out the roles and responsibilities of different bodies involved in the fight against organised crime, thereby enabling efficient allocation of resources between them and also their efficient fight against organised crime. At times, there is a risk that organisations are tasked to deal with more or less the same issue(s); there is also a risk that a certain issue is not adequately addressed at the EU level at all. Again, a coordinating body such as the PCTF can fulfil an important function in this area.

Implementation is arguably the most important step of all. Member States should be given salient indications about how to actually implement — together — initiatives taken on a common EU level. One conclusion from the mutual evaluations described above was that such guidelines were at times lacking. The formulation of such guidelines is of course the prerequisite of the Member States themselves as a group, however other interested parties could well be called upon to assist in this matter. The continuous mutual evaluations, which have already proven to be so important, are an important aspect of this work.

Most of the necessary tools are already in place to efficiently fight organised crime, and there is no question about the good intentions of all parties involved. However, a number of steps forward are both possible and necessary. Perhaps a comprehensive strategy is what is needed; a strategy which outlines a coordinated approach where priorities are clearly set and the coordination of efforts are detailed, drawing on the experiences from work performed in a plethora of groups all addressing the same issue: the efficient fight against organised crime in the EU.

8. On 18 June 2000, during a routine check by British customs at the port of Dover, the bodies of 58 people were found in a truck-borne hermetically sealed container moving into the UK from the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. The victims were all ethnic Chinese.
top of the page
Recommendations

As is shown in the overview of the 1999 EU organised crime situation report (OCSR) recommendations in Appendix 1 below, many of the recommendations from the 1999 OCSR have been dealt with in various fora in 2000 and 2001. However, some of those recommendations are still valid and should be taken into account also in the future.

Based on the national contributions to the 2000 OCSR, and taking into account the conclusions of this report, the following recommendations should be considered:

1. Based on the millennium strategy on organised crime formulated in Tampere, a comprehensive strategy for the efficient prioritisation, coordination and implementation of various programmes, initiatives and proposals in the field of law-enforcement cooperation against organised crime should be formulated, inter alia, by the Member States in unison, involving all relevant EU bodies and others within the EU involved in the fight against organised crime.

2. The important work concerning mutual evaluations of the Member States should continue, involving the EU candidate countries. The mutual evaluations should form an integral part of the envisaged comprehensive strategy proposed in recommendation 1 above. The results of these evaluations should be translated into viable, harmonised national legislation in conformity with the 1999 Tampere conclusions.

3. Cross-border crimes, particularly when involving jurisdictions outside the EU, need to be continuously addressed in different bilateral and multilateral settings involving source, transit and destination countries. The EU candidate countries should be an integral part of this work.

4. Key crime areas identified in the above threat assessment need further close attention at the EU level, including serious trafficking offences such as drug trafficking, illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, arms and vehicles, commodity smuggling (including alcohol and tobacco) and intellectual property theft. The progressive use of joint teams, in accordance with the framework decision proposed by Belgium, France, Spain and the UK, and Article 13 of the 2000 Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, for a quick response to such issues, with close Europol support, should be considered in this work.

5. The introduction of the euro as a physical currency in January 2002 will prompt the need for even closer attention, with a particular focus on the implications for aggravated robberies, money laundering and currency counterfeiting.

6. The difficulties for law enforcement to identify their targets, especially when an organised crime group resides in one country and commits crimes in another, present a problem. This needs to be addressed, employing existing and future common EU tools with a distinct focus on organised crime groups; supported by, and in support of, the comprehensive strategy proposed above.

7. Best practices on the collection, analysis and dissemination of data concerning organised crime groups and their activities should be developed in unison and shared by all relevant EU bodies and others within the EU involved in the fight against organised crime, in support of recommendation 6 above.

8. Information exchange and intelligence sharing also need to be expedited through mechanisms designed for such a task. Jurisdictional issues hampering transnational cooperation need continuous attention.

9. Methodological developments following the intended changes to the OCSR should focus on the implementation of the action plan concerning its realisation currently being produced, to be presented by the end of 2001. Particular attention should be paid to the amendment of the basic document underlying its production, namely ‘Enfopol 35rev2’.

10. It is recommended that the majority of the changes are implemented step by step, starting already in the 2001 OCSR. This necessitates not only expedient work with the methodological developments referred to in recommendation 9 above, but also close Member State involvement in the timely delivery of ideas, comments and contributions to the OCSR. A ‘troika’ group should be set up to oversee the implementation of these and other recommendations proposed in the report.
top of the page
Overview of the 1999 OCSR Recommendations

Some seven recommendations from the 1998 OCSR which, it was felt, needed to be reiterated also in the 1999 OCSR, and 12 newly formulated recommendations were part of the 1999 OCSR (‘Document 2530-55r3’ — confidential).
The status of their implementation is as follows:
Reiterated Recommendations from the 1998 OCSR

*

The quality of this report and the procedures for its development needs improvement.

Quality, in simple terms the usefulness, timeliness, truthfulness and customer orientation of the report and its procedure, needs to be enhanced. To do so, agreements about the deadline for the delivery of Member State contributions need to be followed to allow for a smooth running process.

The work in the contact and support network (CSN) regarding methodological issues, focusing on definitional questions, data collection and dissemination, other qualitative and quantitative issues, together with the future orientation of the report, also needs to continue.

A clearer division between long-term and short/medium-term issues should be considered in order to fulfil the expectations of the varied customers of the report such as high-level policy-makers and operational law-enforcement managers.

One should also consider the assistance of scientists in the work.

In the future Eurojust may also support Europol in the production of this report.

Several Member States have made efforts to better keep deadlines for the delivery of information to the OCSR.

The discussion in the CSN led to impressive results in 2000. Following these discussions, on 10 May 2001, the MDG endorsed the Swedish proposal originally formulated in Crimorg 1, 2000, to develop the OCSR into a threat assessment.

Scientists have regularly been called upon to assist in the work. Two meetings at Europol in 2000 concerned the involvement of scientists in a working group to enhance the quality of the report. Several other contacts were also upheld throughout the year.

No progress has been made concerning the involvement of Eurojust as a support for the production of the report.
top of the page

*

There is a need to implement a common EU prioritisation mechanism in order to select priorities to combat criminal phenomena affecting the EU.

This mechanism, or rather a list of priorities, is already being developed. Problems remain concerning the interpretation of guidelines already developed.

It is recommended that steps towards further harmonisation are taken, applied not only at the European level but also at the national level.

The newly created European Chief of Police task force could be invited to cooperate in the development and to support its implementation.

A common EU prioritisation mechanism is still needed. Although several priority areas have been continuously highlighted, an overall prioritisation mechanism has not been formulated.

Important steps towards harmonising law-enforcement work and judicial systems have been taken during the year. The convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters between the Member States of the EU, adopted on 29 May 2000 by the Justice and Home Affairs Council, is a significant step, and the continuous mutual evaluations are vital in this work.

The Police Chiefs task force (PCTF) has also played an important role in setting priorities for future law-enforcement work.
top of the page

*

The criminal organisation-orientated, rather than the crime area approach, should be encouraged as OC activities are not always limited to one single crime but simultaneously spread across many crime areas.

This approach suggested in the 1998 EU Organised Crime Situation Report needs to be developed further, with a specific focus on the development of the structure and composition of such groups.

The recognition of this approach is slowly permeating the Member States and other law-enforcement fora, including Europol. In the feasibility study underlying the discussions about a possible extension of Europol’s mandate, this approach was highlighted. However, much work still needs to be undertaken to substantiate this approach both within the Member States and at the EU level. Initiatives put forth in 2000 still seem to have been basically crime-area oriented.
top of the page

*

More emphasis should be given to the development of an effective policy for the prevention of OC.

Prevention issues, albeit not solely focusing on OC groups, should be given extra impetus. Long-term prevention of OC should continue to take crime areas and crime markets into account.

The prevention and control of organised crime: A European strategy for the beginning of the new millennium, which was adopted by the European Council on 27 March 2000, is a major step in this area. The new strategy entails 11 measures, concerned with, among other issues, the pooling and upgrading of databases and analysis, the enhancing of partnerships between the criminal justice system and civil society, the reviewing and improvement of instruments already adopted at the national and EU level, and the boosting of the role of Europol and strengthening cooperation between law enforcement and judicial authorities not only in the EU.

In connection with the implementation of the conclusions of the Tampere European Council on crime prevention, the European Council adopted a decision on setting up a European crime prevention network. On 29 November 2000, the Commission presented a communication on crime prevention, together with a draft decision on a financial programme focusing on urban, juvenile, drug-related crime and other forms of serious crimes. The strategy which the European Commission proposed is also aimed at improving knowledge about the phenomena of crime, networking and partnerships. In parallel to the network, the European Commission established the forum on organised crime prevention, focusing more specifically on OC. The European Commission also initiated a financial programme called Hippocrates, which would support the pursuit of these objectives.
top of the page

*

The increased presence of OC groups originating from non-EU countries in the Member States should not detract from the continuing high commitment to prevention and repression of the criminal impact of indigenous OC groups.

Although it is difficult from an EU level to fully grasp the work within the Member States, it seems clear that this has been the overall focus in most Member States.
top of the page

*

In the field of high-tech crime and/or OC using high-tech to facilitate their activities, a common legal definition and common legal measures should be achieved and greater emphasis in this area should be made by law enforcement.

The day-to-day work needs to be pursued in spite of no common position and definition.

With regards to high-tech crime, attention should be paid to the frequent use of modern technological equipment by OC groups.

The role of Europol was emphasised in connection with many initiatives in 2000. During the year, France initiated an extension of the competencies of Europol to computer crime.

Many initiatives were taken during the year, and although hampered by the lack of common definitions, most Member States and international organisations recognised the need for focused work in this area.
top of the page

*

Member States are recommended to make the best possible use of analytical products, particularly the threat assessments and risk analysis, such as those produced by Europol.

These products not only enhance the national perspective but also provide an EU perspective on OC-related issues. The international dimension to a national problem assists in making effective use of resources in an EU environment.

It is difficult to ascertain the general use of analytical products within the Member States. Many Member States are known for using such products very professionally for several years, yet a general overview has not been performed. The interest for such products is increasing, shown not least in the discussions within the CSN.

In addition to the above and taking into account the conclusions from the 1999 EU OCSR the following recommendations were also formulated.
top of the page
12 Newly Formulated Recommendations from the 1999 OCSR

1.

Cooperation between law-enforcement agencies, including customs and justice authorities, across the EU, but also the rest of Europe, needs to be strengthened, with a particular focus on jurisdictional problems facing them in the fight against transnational OC.

Several steps were taken in respect of this recommendation. For instance, to give effect to the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal and Sweden launched initiatives with a view to adopting a European Council decision about the setting up of the judicial cooperation organisation Eurojust.

The convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters between the Member States of the European Union was signed on 29 May 2000. The convention supplements existing arrangements and covers a large number of issues, including the procedures and formalities whereby assistance is afforded, specific forms of mutual assistance, interception of telecommunications and data protection.

Regarding the efficiency of law-enforcement cooperation at the national level and the implementation of the initiatives, a procedure worth particular consideration is the mechanism for evaluating the application and implementation at national level of international undertakings in the fight against organised crime. The topics for the two first rounds of the evaluations were the operation of the system for mutual legal assistance and urgent requests for the seizure of assets, having particular regard to cases, which involved OC. The second round of the exercise was completed in 2000.

The European Police College (CEPOL), initiated by Portugal in July 2000, was established in December the same year to help to train senior police officers of the Member States. It is aimed at increasing the knowledge of national police systems and structures of other Member States, of Europol and of cross-border cooperation within the EU, and to strengthen the knowledge of international instruments, in particular those which already exist at the EU level in the field of cooperation on combating crime.

This links together with the decisions adopted on the OISIN II programme, aimed at encouraging cooperation between the law-enforcement services of the Member States, and the Grotius II programme, aimed at stimulating mutual knowledge of legal and judicial systems and to facilitate general judicial and criminal cooperation between the Member States.
top of the page

2.

Cooperation with both source and transit countries outside the EU where commodities exploited by OC are produced or moved needs to be enhanced.

The increased involvement by OC groups in illegal immigration, trafficking in human beings, smuggling and other transnational activities require tighter border controls and cooperation by the origin countries.

The strengthened use of liaison officers in these countries should be considered, as proposed by the Italian Presidency in 1996, thereby facilitating more effective information and intelligence gathering by Member States representatives, and exchange of information between Member States and cooperation partners outside the EU.

On 27 March 2000, the Council of Justice and Home Affairs allowed Europol to negotiate agreements with third States and organisations, taking into account that priority should be given to the accession candidates, the Schengen partners (Norway and Iceland), Switzerland and Interpol9.

In its relations with the western Balkans, The EU continued to develop its regional approach via the stabilisation and association process and the Stability Pact for south-Eastern Europe launched in 1999, and via technical and financial assistance. Negotiations were launched on a stabilisation and association agreement with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The EU adopted common strategies for Russia and the Ukraine to support economic development and the process of political change underway in these countries.

In December 2000, Mr Vitorino signed, on behalf of the EU, the UN Convention Against Organised Transnational Crime and its annexed protocols on combating the trade in people, especially women and children, and the trafficking of illegal migrants by land, air and sea.

The use of liaison officers was explored, but for several reasons no conclusive position was possible to establish.

9. On 28 June 2001, cooperation agreements were signed with Iceland and Norway. The agreement with Interpol was signed on 5 November. Treaties with Hungary, Poland, Estonia and Slovenia were signed in October.
top of the page

3.

Combating criminal organisations from Central and Eastern Europe requires stronger law-enforcement cooperation when it comes to speeding up exchange of information between and with law enforcement and judicial authorities of these countries and the EU Member States.

Apart from initiatives mentioned above pertaining to this issue, the European Commission is launching a new EUR 1.2 million project on judicial cooperation to fight crime in seven of the EU candidate countries in Central and Eastern Europe under its Phare programme of assistance to the region. Announcing the project, the European Commission again insisted that cooperation in this area is an important part of the EU’s agenda for the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice, based on the application of the rule of law. The aim is to support the central and east European EU candidate countries in adopting and implementing the body of the EU law in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
top of the page

4.

There is a need for a common EU strategy and operational action plans focusing on OC activities from Eastern Europe impacting on the EU to facilitate the joint combating of such OC activity and Europol should be actively involved in such development.

Areas of joint operational action should include activities where Europol is already involved concerning this region, namely:
*

drug trafficking (Turkish criminal groups and ethnic Albanian Yugoslavian criminal groups);
*

illegal immigration (transiting through the region);
*

trafficking in human beings and child pornography (focusing on central and Eastern Europe);
*

stolen vehicles (trafficking to Central and Eastern Europe).

See recommendations 1, 2 and 3 above. In addition, Europol’s efforts in these areas continue and will be enhanced through the use of, inter alia, joint investigation teams and the Europol interim information system.
top of the page

5.

As OC increasingly moves to lower risk/lower penalty crimes such as alcohol and tobacco smuggling, the emphasis on combating OC should be towards the criminal organisation rather than the crime area.

This approach was generally accepted for instance in the feasibility study behind the discussions concerning the extension of Europol’s mandate. However, many initiatives, and much work in the EU and its Member States, are still crime-area oriented.
top of the page

6.

The severe jurisdictional problems coming with the growing use by criminals of high technological advancements and Internet requires effective strategies to counter the transnational criminal activities derived from this trend.

As noted under the sixth bullet point above, the role of Europol was emphasised in connection with many initiatives in 2000. During the year, France initiated an extension of the competencies of Europol to computer crime. Many other initiatives were taken during the year, and although hampered by the lack of common definitions, most Member States and international organisations recognised the need for focused work in this area.
top of the page

7.

The use of foreign jurisdictions and offshore tax havens, particularly for money laundering and fraudulent activities needs to be closely monitored.

In October 2000, the European Council undertook an initial review of accomplishments in combating financial crime, concluding that despite significant progress the efforts should be continued. The European Council considered it necessary to abolish barriers to criminal investigations for tax reasons and reaffirmed its position that bank secrecy in particular should not be invoked against judicial authorities. Member States were also called upon to create or strengthen centralised, multidisciplinary national bodies specifically dedicated to the fight against money laundering. The European Council also made a decision that sets out arrangements for cooperation between financial intelligence units (FIUs)10 on exchanging information to assist the competent national authorities in the fight against money laundering.

The UN Convention Against Organised Transnational Crime urges the abolition of the bank secrecy and numbered accounts with relation to criminal activities, and the confiscation of goods from illegal sources.

10. The FIUs established in each Member State are responsible for receiving, analysing and disseminating to the competent authorities disclosures of financial information which concern suspected proceeds of crime or are required by national legislation or regulation.
top of the page

8.

The introduction of the euro will change the face of counterfeiting currency. Therefore the following should be undertaken:
*

to progressively update a threat assessment on the introduction of the euro currency, concentrated upon the information and intelligence provided by Member States;
*

to develop a common EU action plan concerning the identified potential risks and threats from criminal activities appearing before, during and after the introduction of the euro currency in January 2002;
*

to establish an effective coordination structure, both at the national and European level, to deal with this criminal phenomenon affecting the EU.

Close attention is given to this issue. Europol plays the role of a central EU contact point for information exchange concerning euro-related issues. There is a proposal to develop a common EU action plan, and to establish an efficient coordination structure both at the national and EU level, to focus on counterfeiting related to the introduction of the euro in 2002. Several meeting have taken place under the auspices of the EU police cooperation working group (PCWG).
top of the page

9.

Taking into account the fact that in south-Eastern Europe criminality is compounded by ethnic tensions and movements which ultimately impact on the EU, a report on south-east European OC should be considered. Experience should be drawn from the annual OCSR and the EU situation report on east European OC.

Such a report was produced in 2000. In addition, see recommendations 2 and 3 above.
top of the page

10.

Threat assessment should also be undertaken by Europol in the following areas:
*

the use and disposal of criminal finances, especially in the area of drugs, by ethnic Albanian Yugoslavian and Turkish groups impacting on the EU;
*

the impact of illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings and the identification of groups active both within and outside the EU;
*

the impact of transnational groups active in several crime areas, as for instance, the overlap of activities to areas such as alcohol and tobacco smuggling.

An Albanian OC report is currently being produced by Europol. Illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings have been focused on in many fora, not least the PCTF which called for a draft strategy paper on illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings to be presented in their meeting in October 2001.
top of the page

11.

Other strategic and operative analyses in accordance with conclusion X, Articles 51–54 of the Tampere Summit, assessments regarding the vulnerability of both the pre-accession States and other States in Eastern Europe to money laundering and potential economic instability should be considered.

Such assessments should highlight vulnerable points within banking and financial systems, and identify prevalent areas of economic crime which impede the overall development of the region.

See recommendation 7 above.
top of the page

12.

In light of the general diffusion of OC groups concerning both their composition and criminal activities, the development of a core criminal concept should be undertaken.

The basic idea behind distinguishing core criminals/suspects is the possibility to differentiate the most important OC group members (leaders, organisers, specialist/facilitators, peer persons, etc.) from those permanent, but less important members (temporary members; associates; hired facilitators, etc).

A structured, harmonised EU approach allowing a higher degree of comparison between Member States focusing on core criminals would enhance the understanding of OC structures and improve the effectiveness of law-enforcement activity in the fight against OC.

This issue has been addressed in several discussions between Europol and the Member States. The methodological discussions currently going on in the CSN will certainly come to address this issue as well. It will most without doubt be a core ingredient of the discussions concerning the change of the OCSR from a general situation report into a threat assessment.

Source: http://www.europol.eu.int/index.asp?page=EUOrganisedCrimeSitRep2000