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The European Union and organized crime

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  1. Introduction
  2. A strategy based on co-operation
    1. the Tampere summit and the priorities set by EU leaders
    2. A framework decision in the field of money laundering
    3. Improving cooperation between member states and national law-enforcement agencies
  3. What has been achieved so far?
    1. EU strategy on organised crime: Lack of transparency and accountability
    2. Stepping up co-operation on matters of organised crime in the European Union
  4. Legitimacy and identity
    1. A concept borrowed from the study of EU's foreign and security policy
    2. This discussion of EU policy towards organised crime and the identity of the European Union
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

With French and Dutch voters' recent rejection of the proposed constitutional treaty for the European Union, a number of proposals in the field of Justice and Home Affairs have been watered down or considerably postponed. However, both EU leaders and the general public continue to place high expectations on this specific policy area, which has witnessed a particularly rapid development since the Treaty of Maastricht. The fight against organised crime at EU level is only one aspect among other policies, but it too has been increasingly emphasised over the past few years, even if the first European-wide initiatives against organised crime date back to the seventies.

[...] Stepping up co-operation on matters of organised crime in the European Union stumbles over obstacles due to its particular setting as an international organisation relying upon its member states' law enforcement agencies and good will. Nonetheless, European integration has brought shared practices and a sense of a community of interests, with some commentators and NGOs pointing at a worrying lack of transparency. This raises the question of the legitimacy of this EU approach, which pertains to the very identity of the Union. [...]

[...] Therefore, in the quicksand of national sovereignties, the European Union has adopted an organised crime strategy that relies mostly on intergovernmental co-operation and co- ordination. As this strategy against organised crime is still in the making and as it draws mostly on intergovernmental co-operation in a sensitive area, it is difficult to assess it, especially given the high expectations that have been placed on it. What has been achieved so far? So far, the record of EU's action against organised crime has been mixed, whether one points at encouraging signs or at shortcomings. [...]

[...] Article 2 of its Convention states that its role is to co- ordinate the investigation of forms of serious international crime, ?where there are factual indications that an organized criminal structure is involved? and when the interests of or more member states are affected by the forms of crime in question in such a way as to require a common approach by the member states owing to the scale, significance and consequences of the offences concerned?[10]. A number of other actions have also been implemented by the European Union in various fields. [...]

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