CARDS Regional Police Project :
a new Council of Europe regional project against serious crime in South-eastern Europe
Development of a regional strategy
on economic and organised crime
BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION
Countries of South-eastern Europe have made significant progress in recent years in acceding to European and other international instruments, largely adjusted their criminal legislation, created specialised institutions on economic crime, money laundering, corruption and organised crime, and adopted policies and strategies on some of these fields.
Nevertheless, it would seem that the understanding as to what constitutes economic and organised crime – and in particular what are the cross-border and transnational ramifications – is still limited1. In most countries, a framework for the structured and systematic collection, analysis and processing of data on economic and organised crime which could serve as a basis for prevention and control strategies is not available. Crime analysis and similar methodologies are rarely used. In addition, there is uncertainty with regard to data protection regulations, that is, to the issue as to what type of data law enforcement institutions may collect, store and exchange and under what conditions.
The lack of facts and clear data on the scope, the nature, and the characteristics of organized and economic crime and corruption allow speculation and ungrounded assessments of the Balkan region, giving the countries bad image and blurring the picture of achievements some of the countries have made in recent years.
Measures taken against economic and organised crime at national levels need to be complemented by regional and international strategies. Countries of South-eastern Europe have recognised this and participated in regional initiatives and programmes and organised crime and corruption for some years. However, regional and international dimensions need to be further strengthened, in particular in view of new priorities such as trafficking in human beings. An elaboration of a regional strategy against economic and organised crime would thus provide an added value. The fact that all five countries are now member States of the Council of Europe and that they all strive to come closer to the European Union will help define common benchmarks to establish progress made towards the relevant EU acquis and European standards and practices.
OBJECTIVE, ACTIVITIES, AND EXPECTED RESULTS
The objective is to enhance the understanding of economic and organised crime and of emerging threats and increase the capacity of the Southeast European countries to collect, collate, and analyse data on organized and economic crime. The Council of Europe will review the analytical capabilities of countries of South-eastern Europe and provide training in new methodologies to ensure compliance with European standards. Such approach will help facilitate experience exchange and create a dynamic of cooperation among the countries of the region.
The final results of the Output 1.1 are:
Elaborated crime situation report on economic and organised crime
Elaborated regional strategy economic and organised crime which takes into account already existing national strategies, as well as European standards and practices
Elaborated benchmarks against which to measure progress in the strategy implementation as well as each country’s alignment with those benchmarks at the beginning of the project.
The progress made in the strategy implementation will be monitored against the benchmarks set by the acquis of the European Union as well as in European and international standards and practices.
A creation of a regional crime situation analysis and strategy target several areas that will help in achieving the overall objective:
The crime situation report will present facts about the nature, the scope and the characteristics of organized and economic crime and corruption and offer concrete policy choices and direction for joint action in the region.
The regional strategy will promote compatible and comprehensive approaches in the different countries and thus help facilitate better regional cooperation.
Regional activities are designed to allow exchange of experience, proper peer reviews and stimulate competition in making progress
The participation of partner countries and institutions in this output will serve as a vehicle for transfer of knowledge and best practices from other European countries
1 1 As reflected, for example, in the replies to the questionnaire on organised crime of the Council of Europe's Committee on Organised Crime (PC-S-CO).