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Combating cross-border vehicle crime

The European Union (EU) aims to prevent and combat cross-border vehicle crime *. To this end, the Council considers it necessary to improve cooperation within the EU between national competent authorities * and between the latter and the private sector. The objective of this Decision is twofold: to combat vehicle crime and to coordinate information and action in this field.

ACT

Council Decision (2004/919/EC) of 22 December 2004 on tackling vehicle crime with cross-border implications.

SUMMARY

More than 1.2 million motor vehicles are stolen each year in the EU. A large proportion of these thefts (30 %-40 %) are linked to organised crime, with vehicles being converted and exported to other States within and outside the European Union. Attainment of the objective laid down in Article 29 of the EU Treaty, viz. to provide citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice, is hampered by this situation. Tackling vehicle crime is a matter for the law enforcement agencies of the Member States. However, the EU wishes to address the cross-border aspects of this type of crime. The Council has, therefore, decided to improve cooperation within the EU with the aim of preventing and combating cross-border vehicle crime.

This Decision requires Member States to enhance mutual cooperation between national competent authorities, to facilitate procedures for a quick repatriation of vehicles seized by the national competent authorities, to designate a contact point for tackling cross-border vehicle crime and, whenever a vehicle is reported stolen, to enter it in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and, where possible, in Interpol's stolen motor vehicle database.

Cooperation

The Council requires Member States to take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation:

  • between national competent authorities in order to combat cross-border vehicle crime;
  • between competent authorities and representatives of the private sector (such as holders of private registers of missing vehicles, insurers and the car trade) with a view to coordinating information and action in this field.

The Council also asks Member States to pay specific attention to export control and to streamline the quick repatriation of recovered stolen vehicles.

Exchange of information

Cooperation within the EU in this area involves the exchange of a great deal of information. By 30 March 2005, Member States must designate, within their law enforcement authorities, contact points for exchanging information on tackling vehicle crime.

The Council also recommends regularly issuing alerts for stolen vehicles and registration certificates in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and, where possible, in Interpol's stolen motor vehicle database.

Lastly, the law enforcement authorities are asked to keep Europol informed of vehicle crime perpetrators.

Vehicle registration certificates

The Council asks Member States to prevent abuse and theft of vehicle registration certificates. The law enforcement authorities must, therefore, inform the national vehicle registration authorities if a vehicle which is in the process of being registered is known to have been stolen. If a vehicle is seriously damaged (total loss), the registration certificate must be recovered. The Council also recommends checks to verify the registration certificate if there is doubt over the vehicle's identity.

Furthermore, the Council recommends that the relevant law enforcement authorities have specialist training in the field of vehicle crime prevention and detection.

Lastly, the Council pays particular attention to the link between vehicle crime and other forms of organised crime, such as trafficking in drugs, firearms and human beings.

Key terms used in the act
  • Vehicle: any motor vehicle, trailer or caravan as defined in the provisions relating to the Schengen Information System (SIS).
  • National competent authorities: any national authorities designated by the Member States for the purposes of this Decision; they may include, as appropriate, police, customs, border guards and judicial authorities.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Council Decision 2004/919/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2004/0803]30.12.2004-OJ L 389 of 30.12.2004
Last updated: 13.12.2007
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