CARDS Regional Police Project :
a new Council of Europe regional project against serious crime in South-eastern Europe
Strengthening of capacities
for co-operation in criminal matters
BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION
Countries of South-eastern Europe have made significant progress in recent years in acceding to European and other international instruments which facilitate co-operation in criminal matters, and in particular in matters related to organised crime, corruption and money laundering. In addition, a range of bilateral agreements have been signed between countries.
However, co-operation among them and also between them and the EU member States remains slow and unreliable and therefore inefficient. Reasons include, among other things:
§ Lack of trust and confidence in counterpart authorities in other countries.
During the EU-Western Balkans forum (November 2003), it was agreed that judicial co-operation should play an increasingly important role in the general framework of the relations between the EU and the Western Balkans. In order to overcome the above-mentioned problems, countries of South-eastern Europe have engaged in a process of judicial networking which involves the nomination of contact points, the preparation of a co-operation manual and regular meetings to address specific problems of co-operation. This process needs to be further consolidated and expanded.
In particular, countries should be supported in ratifying and fully implementing the Second additional protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (ETS 182) which opened for signature in November 2001. This Protocol is intended to improve the ability of States to react to cross-border crime by broadening the range of situations in which mutual assistance may be requested and making the provision of assistance easier, quicker and more flexible. It provides, among other things, for more efficient channels of communications, spontaneous exchange of information, hearings by telephone and video-conference, cross-border observations, controlled delivery, covert investigations, joint investigating teams, protection of witnesses and provisional measures.
Ratification of this treaty will bring countries of South-eastern Europe closer to European Union standards, but its practical implementation will also entail considerable challenges. Countries of the region will thus need legislative advice and extensive training to make full use of these opportunities.
OBJECTIVE, ACTIVITIES AND EXPECTED RESULTS
The specific objective of Output 1.5 is to strengthen capacities for co-operation in criminal matters among countries of South-eastern Europe, in particular by supporting Member States’ efforts to ratify and implement the second additional protocol to the European Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters (ETS 182) through:
- the development of strategies for the ratification and implementation of ETS 182
Output 1.5’s activities should be seen in the global framework of Module 1, which aims at developing a regional strategy against economic and organised crime in South-eastern Europe based on the acquis of the European Union and European standards and practices, and at providing law enforcement institutions with the tools necessary to implement the strategy.
Its results will constitute an integral part and be built into activities related to the development of the regional strategy against economic and organised crime in South-eastern Europe based on the acquis of the European Union and European standards and practices.