Brussels, 20 November 2008
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, stated: "We need to hit criminals where it hurts them most. The confiscation of the proceeds of crime is one of the most effective means to tackle organised crime and therefore one of the cornerstones of the EU wide anti-crime strategy. Criminals and their illegal profits move effortlessly across borders, that's why there is added value in action at EU level. "
The new Communication calls for swift action – to take some examples: Member States need to ensure that effective Asset Recovery Offices are up and running in each of the 27 EU Member States as a matter of priority. Such Offices facilitate the tracing of criminal assets, participate in confiscation procedures and ensure the proper management of seized assets.
Member States should also ensure that cross border exchange of information is done smoothly and remove other existing obstacles to confiscation procedures. EUROPOL could ensure regular contacts between Asset Recovery Offices operating in Member States. EUROJUST should be increasingly involved in facilitating co-operation on freezing and confiscation at the level of magistrates. A common EU training programme for financial investigators will be established.
Better European statistics on freezing, confiscating and recovering assets are needed. Finally, improving information sharing with asset recovery offices in third countries is another priority. These actions can be complemented by a future streamlining and updating of the existing EU legislation.
Vice President Barrot, welcoming the Communication and its ten strategic actions pointed out that "It is necessary to think outside the box combining both legislative and operational measures for the rapid identification, tracing and recovery of assets acquired by criminals. They operate across borders, even at a global level, and increasingly acquire assets in other countries. For that reason we urgently need an appropriate European response. Effective national agencies charged with tracing assets are of key importance for successful confiscation. But they cannot do the job unless we help them to work together. Crime should not be a profitable business !".
For more information on the activities of Vice-President Barrot, please see: