30/09/2013 11:42 BST | Updated 30/11/2013 05:12 GMT

Crime and Punishment: How to Put an End to International Gangs


Companies are not the only ones to have discovered the opportunities offered by an increasingly globalised world. Some 3,600 criminal gangs are active in more than one country in the EU and of those 70% boast an international work force and 30% commit more than one type of crime. Worldwide organised crime costs the global economy €670 billion a year. Crime on this scale can only be successfully be countered at an international level.

On 14 March 2012 the European Parliament launched a special committee to investigate how the EU could help to tackle organised crime. After speaking to 271 experts and organisations over 18 months, the committee published its final report with recommendations in September.

The committee, led by Italian Liberal Democrat Sonia Alfano whose father was murdered by the mafia in 1993, calls for more and better cooperation between countries , ensuring crime does not pay, increasing transparency and encouraging business to adopt a code of conduct.

The report calls on the Commission to propose common judicial standards to facilitate cooperation between member states. There should be a an EU-wide definition of the crime of participating in a mafia-style organisation. In addition a European public prosecutor's office should be established to deal with serious international crimes, while European satellite observation systems should be used to identify routes used for transporting illegal goods.

MEPs want to make crime less attractive by encouraging national governments to crack down on money laundering and to seize criminal assets more often. The proceeds could then be used, for example, to fight crime at a local level.

The report also underlines the importance of efficient and corruption-resistant public administration. Corruption costs the EU €120 billion a year, equivalent to 1.1% of EU gross domestic product. To improve transparency, anyone elected should submit declarations concerning their activities, income, responsibilities and interests. Citizens should be given better access to documents, while whistle-blowers should be offered better protection.

In addition, a conviction for any form of organised crime, money laundering, corruption or other serious economic and financial offence should mean disqualification from becoming an MEP, MP or working for the European institutions.

Finally, the banking system should also become more transparent, setting down common procedures for reporting offences. The report called on countries to tackle bank secrecy as it can be used to hide the illicit profits of crime organisations.

MEPs will vote on the committee's report and recommendations during the second plenary in October, after which it is up to the Commission and member states to take the next step.

Infographic copyright European Parliament