Financial crime knows no borders: Europe needs to join forces to fight it

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The advent of technology, coupled with national prosecutors lacking the tools needed to fight cross-border crime, means a pan-European solution is needed. [Shutterstock]

Criminal activity knows no borders, so the European Commissioner for Justice and two MEPs here reiterate the need for Europe to come together and set up a European Public Prosecutor that can stop criminals in their tracks.

Věra Jourová is European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality; and Barbara Matera and Axel Voss are members of the European Parliament (both EPP).

Today, organised crime is making billions of euros in profit every year by circumventing national rules and escaping criminal prosecutions. National prosecutors often lack the tools to act quickly and efficiently across borders. In the interest of all tax payers, Europe needs to join forces by establishing a European Public Prosecutor.

Every year at least €50 billion of revenues from VAT are lost for national budgets all over Europe through cross-border fraud like carrousel fraud. And in spite of extremely strict rules and controls, criminals sometimes are still able to tap into money from EU funds through similar methods. We need an effective answer to these negative impacts on the EU budget, but also the national budgets.

National prosecutors are doing an excellent job and they prosecute cases of fraud actively. But their tools to stop big cross-border financial crime are limited. They can go for ad-hoc cooperation through joint investigation teams.

Yet this usually involves lengthy procedures and moreover this is not the best way to build up expertise and know-how for future cases. Whenever they need to seize evidence abroad, whenever the investigation needs to take place swiftly and simultaneously in different countries; they are today simply not well equipped.

This pan-European problem cannot be addressed by national authorities alone.  The European Public Prosecutors’ Office will provide the missing tools: swift investigations across the EU and real-time information exchange. The European Public Prosecutor will work with delegated prosecutors from each country, bringing together their national expertise and coordinating it at EU level.

We want to build a strong, independent and efficient body, which will develop expertise in fighting financial crimes across the EU. This body would be similar to the national anti-mafia prosecutor’s office set up in Italy that has successfully combatted mafia criminal activities for over 20 years.

It will complement the important work of Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters, allowing it to dedicate more resources to the fight against terrorism or other crimes.

We have negotiated this proposal for three years, now it is time to come from words to action.  More than anything, European citizens want concrete results from the EU in these days. We call on all Member States to work hard to agree on a text by the end of this year.

It is tax payer money that is at stake – we have no more time to waste.

Financial crime knows no borders: Europe needs to join forces

Criminal activity knows no borders, so the European Commissioner for Justice and two MEPs here reiterate the need for Europe to come together and set up a European Public Prosecutor that can stop criminals in their tracks.

Věra Jourová is European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality; and Barbara Matera and Axel Voss are members of the European Parliament (both EPP).

Today, organised crime is making billions of euros in profit every year by circumventing national rules and escaping criminal prosecutions. National prosecutors often lack the tools to act quickly and efficiently across borders. In the interest of all tax payers, Europe needs to join forces by establishing a European Public Prosecutor.

Every year at least €50 billion of revenues from VAT are lost for national budgets all over Europe through cross-border fraud like carrousel fraud. And in spite of extremely strict rules and controls, criminals sometimes are still able to tap into money from EU funds through similar methods. We need an effective answer to these negative impacts on the EU budget, but also the national budgets.

National prosecutors are doing an excellent job and they prosecute cases of fraud actively. But their tools to stop big cross-border financial crime are limited. They can go for ad-hoc cooperation through joint investigation teams.

Yet this usually involves lengthy procedures and moreover this is not the best way to build up expertise and know-how for future cases. Whenever they need to seize evidence abroad, whenever the investigation needs to take place swiftly and simultaneously in different countries; they are today simply not well equipped.

This pan-European problem cannot be addressed by national authorities alone.  The European Public Prosecutors’ Office will provide the missing tools: swift investigations across the EU and real-time information exchange. The European Public Prosecutor will work with delegated prosecutors from each country, bringing together their national expertise and coordinating it at EU level.

We want to build a strong, independent and efficient body, which will develop expertise in fighting financial crimes across the EU. This body would be similar to the national anti-mafia prosecutor’s office set up in Italy that has successfully combatted mafia criminal activities for over 20 years.

It will complement the important work of Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters, allowing it to dedicate more resources to the fight against terrorism or other crimes.

We have negotiated this proposal for three years, now it is time to come from words to action.  More than anything, European citizens want concrete results from the EU in these days. We call on all Member States to work hard to agree on a text by the end of this year.

It is tax payer money that is at stake – we have no more time to waste.

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