A European Response to Organised Crime

Resolution submitted by: PC1 – Institutions and Governance
Adopted by the online Federal Committee (FC Home) on 25 October 2020
Amended and re-adopted by the Federal Committee in Malta on 19 March 2023.

JEF Europe,

  • Acknowledging the significant impact on the EU of organised criminal networks and organisations, over 80 % of which are involved in the trade in drugs, organised property crime, trafficking in human beings, exercise fraud or migrant smuggling as described by the Europol report Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) of 2021;
  • Acknowledging that organised crime is a singular form of delinquency that arises in order to systematically obtain material and immaterial advantages in an illicit way;
  • Aware that
    • the structure of these organisations tends to be hierarchical, based on the rules of obedience and silence;
    • they place their action far above the criminal standards of common delinquency; being able to undermine the economy, in the private sector as well as in the public procurement sector, through the enormous availability of resources originating from the trafficking of drugs, arms, human beings, etc., which are eventually laundered and illegally placed on the market;
    • organised crime organisations do not intend to be anti-state, but rather tend to insert themselves within the State itself through instruments such as corruption, coercion, violence and control of a part of the electorate, both active and passive;
    • in many countries in which these groups find conditions favourable to their development, these criminal organisations fill gaps that are left by absent or ineffective government institutions.
  • Deeply concerned that the presence of organised crime in society undermines the foundations of free competition in the economy, democracy, enjoyment of human and fundamental rights and the rule of law;
  • Considering that this social phenomenon is increasingly emerging in its transnational and global, dimension and its pervasiveness is increasingly felt;
  • Encouraged by the increasing awareness of European public opinion regarding the danger of these organisations;
  • Welcoming that the European Parliament has become more and more engaged in addressing the threat of organised crime during the last 10 years, calling on the European Commission for a stronger commitment;
  • Being aware that, without a Federal Constitution, the European Union cannot pursue penal crimes but only make use of forms of enhanced voluntary cooperation among the Member States in investigation on transnational crimes;
  • Recalling that the existing European investigative system consists only of sharing of information that the European Public Prosecutor Office, Europol and Eurojust receive from the relevant national authorities on a voluntary basis;
  • Deeply convinced that:
    • the first step in concretely addressing the threat of organised crime against European democracy is to make the cooperation
      mandatory and, at the same time, to harmonise, among the Member States, the prosecution of the same types of offence;
    • it is ever more clear that the legal framework of the European Union dealing with money-laundering and criminal assets is not sufficient to prevent organised crime from undermining European democracy and the Common Market.

JEF Europe, therefore,

Recalling the

  • United Nations Convention against transnational organised crime and the Protocols Thereto of 2004;
  • Council of Europe Organised crime situation report 2005;
  • European Union Strategy to tackle Organised Crime 2021-2025 of 14th April 2021
  • European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2013 Organised crime, corruption, and money laundering;
  • European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2019 Report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance;
  • EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings 2021- 2025 of 14th of April 2021;

Considering that

  • criminal law falls predominantly within the competence of the Member States – change of which would necessitate a treaty revision;
  • at present, the European Union can only exercise very limited competence in criminal matters in order to approximate or harmonise the criminal laws of the Member States and to provide support in the sharing of information essential for the action of the various administrative bodies of criminal justice;
  • the activity of the European Union meets with a lot of resistance from Member States, for example:
    • divergent definitions of organised crime among the EU Member States, as highlighted by the European Parliament multiple times (e.g. Resolution 2020/2221(INI) of 15 December 2021);
    • the existing European instrument supporting the investigation activities is based on the sharing of information which the European Public Prosecutor Office (“EPPO”), Europol and Eurojust receive from the relevant national authorities on a voluntary basis;
    • EPPO is a body set up as part of an enhanced cooperation mechanism and with the competence to investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment only crimes against the EU budget, such as fraud, corruption or serious cross-border VAT fraud;
    • the European Central Bank (ECB) is in charge of granting and revoking the banking licenses for Union credit institutions,
      including with respect to serious breaches of Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) rules, noting with regret, however, that the ECB is fully dependent on national AML supervisors for information relating to such breaches detected by national authorities;
  • money laundering is an essential component of organised criminal activity;
    noting with regret, however, that European supervisory authorities (ESAs)
    have limited capabilities to take a more substantial role in the fight
    against money laundering owing to their decision-making structures, a lack
    of powers and limited resources;
  • organised crime is a significant actor in human trafficking, smuggling and violent crimes with cross-border impact causing significant human suffering;
  • that millions of people are deprived of their fundamental and human rights because of human trafficking and various forms of forced labour impact also children;
  • that the most common form of human trafficking in the EU is sexual exploitation;
  • that according to the UN, one of the biggest issues in prevention of such criminality is lack of understanding of the issue;

JEF Europe, therefore,

Calls for

1. a European Constituent Assembly and the foundation of a truly European Federation provided with a federal penal law which will allow it to efficiently fight against organised crime;

2. the federal penal law to provide an overarching legal framework, within which differentiation between the Member States is possible according to the principle of subsidiarity;

With regard to a future Treaty Change procedure,

Calls for

3. some criminal competences to be shared at the European level to the extent necessary in order to have the possibility of make use of regulations instead of directives with the ultimate goal of harmonising the penal codes of the Member States when it comes to organised transnational crimes;

4. the cooperation in the investigative action at the European level against crimes connected to organised crime, including human trafficking, smuggling and financial crimes, to be pursued through the institution of a dedicated Prosecutor Office and specialised police units with expertise on the specific types of crimes;

5. the European Commission to address the root causes and origins of organised crime;

Highlights its resolution “On the creation of a Fiscal Union in the Eurozone”, which noted the need to strongly tackle tax havens, where the most part of organised crime illicit proceeds are deposited before being laundered and reinvested in the legal economy, through the instruments of a fiscal union in order to avoid damages to the European economy, safeguard the health of the democratic process and protect public goods from organised crime organisations;

Calls on

6. the European Parliament to institute a permanent Committee on organised crime;

7. the European Commission, in pursuing the fight against the organised crime and its distortion effect on the conditions of competition in the internal market, to make use of the procedure laid down in Article 116 TFEU which makes it possible to change the unanimity requirement vote in the Council;

8. the relevant European legislator to adopt a shared definition of organised crime following the procedure laid down in Art. 83 TFEU as to combat such undertakings more effectively and prevent legal loopholes when dealing with organised crime;

9. the EU to make mandatory the communications to the EPPO, Europol, Eurojust and ECB from all the competent agents;

10. the Member States to coordinate and organise training for their national authorities on recognition, prevention, investigation and prosecution of organised crime and other cross-border crimes, and create channels for effective cooperation of national authorities in investigation and prosecution of such crimes;

11. the EU to strive towards a European Federal Police Force, able to act transnationally to adequately fight organised crime which would benefit from its own transnational nature;

12. all the European Institutions to strongly commit to an information and awareness-raising campaign, targeted at all the social partners, about the risks of the entry of criminal capital; aiming to build a common understanding on their lack of economic benefits and loss of control and autonomy, such campaigns should also be aimed at raising awareness on the risks to democracy and social cohesion at the European level caused by organised crime;

13. all the relevant European actors to implement civic education programs precisely targeting students of all levels, about the pervasiveness of organised crime on European democracy and the economy;

14. all the European Institutions and social partners to monitor particularly closely the risk of criminal infiltration in the fulfilment of the Recovery Plan.