Today, the Commission is presenting a new EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime, focusing on boosting law enforcement and judicial cooperation, tackling organised crime structures and high priority crimes, removing criminal profits and ensuring a modern response to technological developments. Organised crime groups continue to develop and evolve, as shown by their rapid adaptation to the coronavirus pandemic, for example through the increase in counterfeit medical products and online crime. Organised crime groups active in Europe are involved in a variety of criminal activities, with drugs trafficking, organised property crime, fraud, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings being prevalent. In 2019, criminal revenues in the main criminal markets amounted to 1% of the EU’s GDP, i.e. €139 billion.
The Strategy sets out the tools and measures to be taken over the next 5 years to disrupt the business models and structures of criminal organisations across borders, both online and offline.
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Criminal syndicates increasingly use new technologies and seize any opportunity to expand their illegal activities, online or offline. The recent emblematic cases like EncroChat have exposed how sophisticated these organised crime networks are. This shows how important our efforts to tackle organised crime across borders are. Today’s Strategy will help hit these criminals where it hurts the most, by undermining their business model which thrives on a lack of coordination between states.”
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “We clearly need to step up to fight organised crime groups. They are among the biggest threats to our security. They are highly professional and transnational: 70% of criminal groups are active in more than 3 Member States. They quickly adapted to the pandemic, moving online and selling fake or non-existent cures. We have already detected attempted scam sales of over 1 billion vaccine doses. Our strategy is a 5-year programme to strengthen European law enforcement in the physical and the digital world. With the measures we’re proposing today, we’ll be moving from occasional police cooperation to permanent police partnerships, and we’ll follow the money to catch criminals in financial investigations.”