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Understanding EU action against migrant smuggling

19-01-2021

Around 90 % of those who cross the external European Union (EU) borders illegally do so with the assistance of migrant smugglers. Furthermore, the facilitation of irregular migration is a highly profitable criminal activity, in particular when compared with the relatively low risks incurred. Even though detections of illegal border crossings are currently at their lowest level since 2013, the migrant smuggling business shows sustained high levels of demand. This demand is not only due to the fact ...

Around 90 % of those who cross the external European Union (EU) borders illegally do so with the assistance of migrant smugglers. Furthermore, the facilitation of irregular migration is a highly profitable criminal activity, in particular when compared with the relatively low risks incurred. Even though detections of illegal border crossings are currently at their lowest level since 2013, the migrant smuggling business shows sustained high levels of demand. This demand is not only due to the fact that people in severe distress – whether for economic reasons or because of a genuine fear for their lives – keep trying to reach the EU, by irregular means if necessary. Demand is also high because illegally crossing borders has become harder, due to increased external border controls and other measures put in place to prevent irregular migration. This is where migrant smuggling networks step in. Migrant smugglers are among some of the most agile criminals. They go to great lengths in order not to get caught, quickly adapting the routes they use to smuggle migrants into the EU and their means of travel. They avoid direct contact with their victims, instead using the latest digital communication technologies and involving different intermediaries along a migrant's journey. The facilitation of irregular migration is a complex crime, interconnected with many other criminal activities, such as document fraud, trafficking in human beings or other types of illicit smuggling. Although people willingly pay smugglers to help them cross borders, they do so at great personal risk. Too many lose their lives, or are at risk of serious harm or exploitation. Therefore, preventing and combatting migrant smuggling and related crimes is one of the key priorities of the EU's action against irregular migration and organised crime. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for more and better operational cooperation, data sharing and legal migration channels, and insisted on better implementation of relevant EU legislation.

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.

Organised Property Crime in the EU

14-07-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), aims to provide information on Organised Property Crime in the EU, by offering a strategic discussion on the Union policies on this topic and highlighting key recommendations for future action. The study proposes a holistic approach to the problem, adding new elements to existing measures.

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), aims to provide information on Organised Property Crime in the EU, by offering a strategic discussion on the Union policies on this topic and highlighting key recommendations for future action. The study proposes a holistic approach to the problem, adding new elements to existing measures.

Autore esterno

Ernesto U. SAVONA, Director of Transcrime (Joint Research Centre on Transnational Crime) Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan (www.transcrime.it) Matteo ANASTASIO, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and intern at Transcrime-Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Use of financial data for preventing and combatting serious crime

19-07-2019

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The ...

On 17 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a directive intended to facilitate law enforcement authorities' access to and use of financial information held in other jurisdictions within the EU for investigations related to terrorism and other serious crime. The proposed directive would grant competent authorities direct access to bank account information contained in centralised registries set up in each Member State, according to the Fifth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive. The proposal also aims to strengthen domestic and cross-border exchange of information between EU Member States' competent authorities, including law enforcement authorities and financial intelligence units, as well as with Europol. The provisional agreement reached in February 2019 in interinstitutional negotiations was adopted by the European Parliament on 17 April 2019, followed by the Council on 14 June. On 20 June 2019, the directive was signed into law and then published in the Official Journal on 11 July. Member States have until 1 August 2021 to transpose its provisions into national law.

Police cooperation achievements during the legislative term 2014-2019: the role of the European Parliament

13-05-2019

Effective police cooperation is a key step in turning the EU into an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) based on respect for fundamental rights. Cross-border law enforcement cooperation – involving the police, customs and other law enforcement services – is designed to prevent, detect and investigate criminal offences across the EU. In practice, this cooperation mainly concerns serious crime (organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and cybercrime) and terrorism. Considerable ...

Effective police cooperation is a key step in turning the EU into an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) based on respect for fundamental rights. Cross-border law enforcement cooperation – involving the police, customs and other law enforcement services – is designed to prevent, detect and investigate criminal offences across the EU. In practice, this cooperation mainly concerns serious crime (organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings and cybercrime) and terrorism. Considerable progress in strengthening police cooperation was made during the 2014-2019 legislative term. Most importantly, the new Europol Regulation took effect in May 2017. In Parliament, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) is responsible for measures relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including terrorism, and substantive and procedural measures relating to the development of a more coherent EU approach to criminal law, in accordance with Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

Rafforzamento della sicurezza delle carte d'identità rilasciate ai cittadini dell'Unione

02-04-2019

Nella tornata di aprile il Parlamento europeo dovrebbe votare una proposta legislativa intesa a rafforzare la sicurezza delle carte d'identità, nonché dei titoli di soggiorno, rilasciati ai cittadini dell'Unione e ai loro familiari. La proposta mira a ridurre l'utilizzo di documenti fraudolenti che potrebbero essere presentati da terroristi e criminali che entrano nel territorio dell'UE da paesi terzi.

Nella tornata di aprile il Parlamento europeo dovrebbe votare una proposta legislativa intesa a rafforzare la sicurezza delle carte d'identità, nonché dei titoli di soggiorno, rilasciati ai cittadini dell'Unione e ai loro familiari. La proposta mira a ridurre l'utilizzo di documenti fraudolenti che potrebbero essere presentati da terroristi e criminali che entrano nel territorio dell'UE da paesi terzi.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The migration issue

27-02-2019

Refugee movements and migration are at the centre of global attention. In recent years, Europe has had to respond to the most severe migratory challenge since the end of the Second World War. The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU, which peaked in 2015, exposed a series of deficiencies and gaps in EU policies on asylum, external borders and migration. In response to these challenges, the EU has embarked on a broader process of reform aimed at rebuilding its asylum ...

Refugee movements and migration are at the centre of global attention. In recent years, Europe has had to respond to the most severe migratory challenge since the end of the Second World War. The unprecedented arrival of refugees and irregular migrants in the EU, which peaked in 2015, exposed a series of deficiencies and gaps in EU policies on asylum, external borders and migration. In response to these challenges, the EU has embarked on a broader process of reform aimed at rebuilding its asylum and migration policies based on four pillars: reducing the incentives for irregular migration by addressing its root causes, improving returns and dismantling smuggling and trafficking networks; saving lives and securing the external borders; establishing a strong EU asylum policy, and providing more legal pathways for asylum-seekers and more efficient legal channels for regular migrants. The record migratory flows to the EU witnessed during 2015 and 2016 had subsided by the end of 2017 and 2018. However, in order to deliver what the Commission calls an effective, fair and robust future EU migration policy, the EU, based on the Treaties and other legal and financial instruments, has been implementing both immediate and longer-term measures. Europe, due to its geographic position and its reputation as an example of stability, generosity and openness against a background of growing international and internal conflicts, climate change and global poverty, is likely to continue to represent an ideal refuge for asylum-seekers and migrants. This is also reflected in the growing amounts, flexibility and diversity of EU funding for migration and asylum policies inside as well as outside the current and future EU budget. See also the parallel Briefing on 'EU support for democracy and peace in the world', PE 628.271.

Victims of trafficking in hotspots

21-02-2019

This briefing looks at the risks of exploitation faced by people leaving their countries in search of safety or better lives and arriving in Europe by sea. It gives an overview of the processes related to early identification of victims of trafficking in first reception facilities (hotspots) and the related challenges.

This briefing looks at the risks of exploitation faced by people leaving their countries in search of safety or better lives and arriving in Europe by sea. It gives an overview of the processes related to early identification of victims of trafficking in first reception facilities (hotspots) and the related challenges.

Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants: 2018 update

21-12-2018

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee, aims to update the 2016 study “Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants”. It takes stock of and examines the latest developments that have taken place since 2016, specifically the legislative and policy changes, along with various forms and cases of criminalisation of ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the PETI Committee, aims to update the 2016 study “Fit for purpose? The Facilitation Directive and the criminalisation of humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants”. It takes stock of and examines the latest developments that have taken place since 2016, specifically the legislative and policy changes, along with various forms and cases of criminalisation of humanitarian actors, migrants’ family members and basic service providers. The study uses the notion of ‘policing humanitarianism’ to describe not only cases of formal prosecution and sentencing in criminal justice procedures, but also wider dynamics of suspicion, intimidation, harassment and disciplining in five selected Member States – Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary and Italy. Policing humanitarianism negatively affects EU citizens’ rights – such as the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. When civil society is effectively (self-)silenced and its accountability role undermined, policies to combat migrant smuggling may be overused and give rise to serious breaches of the EU’s founding values, notably the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights. Moreover, policing humanitarianism negatively affects wider societal trust and diverts the limited resources of law enforcement from investigating more serious crimes.

Autore esterno

Sergio CARRERA (scientific coordinator), CEPS and the Migration Policy Centre – European University Institute Lina VOSYLIUTE, CEPS Stephanie SMIALOWSKI, CEPS Dr Jennifer ALLSOPP, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Migration Leadership Team, London International Development Centre, SOAS University of London Gabriella SANCHEZ, Migration Policy Centre – European University Institute

Mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders

12-12-2018

In order to respond more effectively to the challenge of criminals and terrorists hiding assets in other Member States, in 2016 the European Commission proposed a regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders in criminal matters. The directly applicable instrument removes the need for national transposition, broadens the scope of the current rules to cover new types of confiscation and includes provisions on victims' rights to restitution and compensation. In June 2018, ...

In order to respond more effectively to the challenge of criminals and terrorists hiding assets in other Member States, in 2016 the European Commission proposed a regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders in criminal matters. The directly applicable instrument removes the need for national transposition, broadens the scope of the current rules to cover new types of confiscation and includes provisions on victims' rights to restitution and compensation. In June 2018, provisional agreement was reached in interinstitutional negotiations and the European Parliament voted the agreed text on 4 October 2018. The Council followed suit on 6 November 2018. The final act was signed on 14 November and published in the Official Journal of the EU on 28 November 2018. The regulation will apply 24 months after its entry into force, namely from 19 December 2020. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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