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Understanding the EU response to organised crime

31-08-2020

The EU has made substantial progress in terms of protecting its citizens since the early 1990s, often in response to dramatic incidents, such as mafia or other organised crime group murders, big money-laundering scandals, a steep increase in migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings following the 2015 migration crisis, or – more recently – a sharp rise in cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting during the coronavirus pandemic. Criminal organisations continue to pose big risks to the internal ...

The EU has made substantial progress in terms of protecting its citizens since the early 1990s, often in response to dramatic incidents, such as mafia or other organised crime group murders, big money-laundering scandals, a steep increase in migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings following the 2015 migration crisis, or – more recently – a sharp rise in cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting during the coronavirus pandemic. Criminal organisations continue to pose big risks to the internal security of the EU. A rising number of organised crime groups are active in its territory, often with cross-border reach. Organised crime is furthermore an increasingly dynamic and complex phenomenon, with new criminal markets and modi operandi emerging under the influence of globalisation and – in particular – new technologies. While the impact of serious and organised crime on the EU economy is considerable, there are also significant political and social costs, as well as negative effects on the wellbeing of EU citizens. As organised crime has become more interconnected, international and digital, Member States – which remain responsible for operational activities in the area of police and judicial cooperation – increasingly rely on cross-border and EU-level cooperation to support their law enforcement authorities on the ground. Recognising the severity of the problem and the need for coordinated action, the EU has initiated several measures to encourage closer cooperation between Member States and adopted common legal, judicial and investigative frameworks to address organised crime. Parliament has made fighting organised crime a political priority and has helped shape the relevant EU legislation. Future EU action will focus on implementing existing rules, improving operational cooperation – even beyond the EU’s boundaries – and information-sharing, as well as addressing some of the main criminal activities of organised crime groups. Furthermore, the EU aims to make sure that crime does not pay.

Coronavirus and prisons in the EU: Member-State measures to reduce spread of the virus

22-06-2020

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe ...

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe, EU Member States have taken a number of containment measures to protect prisoners' health. These measures have consisted mostly of suspending all visits and regular activities in order to limit contacts among detainees and also between detainees and the outside world. Transfers of prisoners between EU countries have been put on hold as well. Improved sanitary measures have been taken in detention centres, in terms of both personal hygiene and cleanliness of premises. At the same time, several Member States have sought to reduce overcrowding, by limiting entries and increasing exits, for instance by postponing the execution of sentences or using alternatives to detention. However, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, at least half the Member States did not seek alternatives to detention. This briefing looks into the various measures adopted by Member States between early March and the end of May 2020 in response to the challenges posed to the Union's prisons by the coronavirus crisis. While, at the time of writing, containment measures in many Member States are gradually being eased, the long-term impact of the pandemic on prison conditions and populations remains to be seen.

Interoperability between EU border and security information systems

14-06-2019

To enhance EU external border management and internal security, the European Commission has made several proposals to upgrade and expand European border and security information systems. As part of a broader process to maximise their use, the Commission presented legislative proposals for two regulations in December 2017 (amended in June 2018), establishing an interoperability framework between EU information systems on borders and visas, and on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration ...

To enhance EU external border management and internal security, the European Commission has made several proposals to upgrade and expand European border and security information systems. As part of a broader process to maximise their use, the Commission presented legislative proposals for two regulations in December 2017 (amended in June 2018), establishing an interoperability framework between EU information systems on borders and visas, and on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration. After completion of the legislative procedure at first reading in the Parliament and in the Council, the final acts were signed by the co-legislators on 20 May 2019 and published in the Official Journal two days later. Both acts came into force on 11 June 2019. The new rules aim to improve checks at the EU’s external borders, allow for better detection of security threats and identity fraud, and help in preventing and combating irregular migration. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Legal migration to the EU

07-03-2019

Entering the EU as a non-European is not too difficult for people from stable countries. Those planning to visit one or more EU Member States can get in as a tourist, with or without a visa. If the intention is to live and work for a longer period, they can use the many possibilities offered by labour migration. Regular mobility schemes also include provisions for other categories such as students, researchers, au pairs and voluntary workers. People wishing to join a family member who is already ...

Entering the EU as a non-European is not too difficult for people from stable countries. Those planning to visit one or more EU Member States can get in as a tourist, with or without a visa. If the intention is to live and work for a longer period, they can use the many possibilities offered by labour migration. Regular mobility schemes also include provisions for other categories such as students, researchers, au pairs and voluntary workers. People wishing to join a family member who is already residing legally in the EU might even be eligible for family reunification. However, for people coming from countries at war or where democracy is in serious peril, or who happen to live in a non-EU country after fleeing their own country, or who are simply looking for a better life, the options are more limited. Moreover, even when options exist, gaining access to them is not always possible for people who find themselves in precarious, dangerous or even life-threatening situations. In 2015, a record number of people tried to reach Europe by all means, often risking their lives along their journeys. Although the number of irregular arrivals in the EU is back to pre-crisis levels, immigration remains one of the key concerns of European citizens and is expected to remain a challenge for years to come. In order to address this challenge, the EU has embarked on a process of reform aimed at rebuilding its common asylum policies on fairer and more solid ground, strengthening its external borders by reinforcing the links between border controls and security, and renewing cooperation with third countries on migration issues. A forward-looking and comprehensive European immigration policy, based on solidarity and respect for European values, requires a balanced approach to dealing with both irregular and legal migration. The EU is committed to help create more, safe and controlled channels to migration both to help people in need of protection and to address labour market needs and skills shortages adequately.

EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust)

26-09-2018

Since its creation in 2002, Eurojust has become a central player in judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Considering the expected rise in international criminal activity in the coming years, there is a need to reinforce its role and enhance its efficiency in tackling cross-border criminality. Article 85 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) provides for such a possibility. During its October I plenary session, the Parliament is expected to vote on a proposal for a regulation that ...

Since its creation in 2002, Eurojust has become a central player in judicial cooperation in criminal matters. Considering the expected rise in international criminal activity in the coming years, there is a need to reinforce its role and enhance its efficiency in tackling cross-border criminality. Article 85 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) provides for such a possibility. During its October I plenary session, the Parliament is expected to vote on a proposal for a regulation that aims to modernise the Agency's legal framework and streamline its functioning and structure.

Hotspots at EU external borders: State of play

26-06-2018

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration of April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to better coordinate EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, on initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Currently, only Greece and Italy host hotspots ...

The 'hotspot approach' was presented by the Commission as part of the European Agenda on Migration of April 2015, when record numbers of refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants flocked to the EU. The 'hotspots' – first reception facilities – aim to better coordinate EU agencies' and national authorities' efforts at the external borders of the EU, on initial reception, identification, registration and fingerprinting of asylum-seekers and migrants. Currently, only Greece and Italy host hotspots. Other EU countries can also benefit from the hotspot approach upon request, or in cases where the Commission believes that additional assistance is necessary. As migration continues to be one of the EU's main challenges, the hotspots are a key element of EU support for Greece and Italy to help them face the challenges of the humanitarian and border management crisis. However, reception conditions remain a concern. The majority of the hotspots suffer from overcrowding, and concerns have been raised by stakeholders with regards to camp facilities and living conditions, in particular for vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for action to ensure that the hotspot approach does not endanger the fundamental rights of asylum-seekers and migrants. The EU-Turkey Statement from March 2016, which is closely linked with the implementation of the hotspot approach in Greece, aims to reduce the irregular migration flows from Turkey to the EU. In parallel, the Commission proposed a temporary emergency relocation mechanism that began in October 2015, to assist the states facing increasing pressure from migrants’ arrivals. This is an updated version of a Briefing drafted by Anita Orav, published in March 2016, PE 579.070.

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