Pan-european police co-operation in the fight against
organised crime and corruption respecting the principles of states governed by
the rule of law
1st High-level meeting of the Ministries of Interior
5-6 November 1998, Strasbourg (France)
Presented by Mr Jean-Jack QUEYRANNE, Minister of the Interior a.i. of France
1. The Ministers recall that, in the Final Declaration which they adopted at
their Second Summit (Strasbourg, 10-11 October 1997), the Heads of State and
Government of the Council of Europe expressed concern at the new dimension of
threats to citizen security and the dangers which these threats constituted for
democracy, and decided to seek common responses to the challenges posed by the
growth of corruption, organised crime, drug trafficking and money laundering
throughout Europe. In seeking these responses, the fundamental freedoms defended
and promoted by the Council of Europe for nearly 50 years, and enshrined in the
European Convention on Human Rights and other legal instruments, were to be
2. The Ministers note with concern the gravity of the situation, as described
by several speakers at the meeting. They note the increase in the number of
serious offences, the growth and diversification of the activities of organised
criminal groups, and their infiltration of the political, economic and social
fabric. The Ministers pay tribute to the courage and determination of the
authorities in the most seriously affected countries, and particularly to the
efforts made, in unusually difficult conditions, by police forces in their daily
struggle against criminal groups.
3. The Ministers consider that, in a world where frontiers are losing some of
their importance, any analysis of organised crime must start from an
international standpoint. They are convinced that an international perspective
and international resources hold the only key to effective action against
international criminal groups and unlawful trafficking. They note with interest
implementation of the Programme of action against organised crime adopted at the
European Union, as well as the work currently being done by the United Nations
with a view to drafting a Convention on organised crime.
4. The Ministers consider that it is essential to make optimum use of the
international instruments for co-operation in criminal matters which already
exist at bilateral and multilateral level, and particularly those concluded
within the Council of Europe. They stress that it is vital to take full
advantage of the communication and information exchange channels established by
Interpol and Europol. They consider that the co-operation machinery which
operates at regional level between Council of Europe member states, and which is
already yielding promising results, should be taken as a model.
5. The Ministers regard the Council of Europe as the international
organisation best equipped to make Europeans aware of the dangers which threaten
their security and democratic institutions. In view of its experience in
defending human rights and the rule of law, the Council of Europe has a decisive
role to play in approximating European public opinions to the need for a common
area of security.
6. The Ministers stress their attachment to continuation of the work already
being done to consolidate democratic structures and the rule of law in Europe.
In this connection, they attach the greatest importance to police training,
particularly under the Programme of Activities for the Development of Democratic
Stability (ADACS) and a series of programmes run jointly by the Council of
Europe and the European Commission. The Ministers also welcome the signing of
the so-called ‘Octopus II’ Agreement between the Council of Europe and the
Commission of the European Communities for the purpose of reinforcing
legislative and structural policy to combat corruption and organised crime in
the countries of central and eastern Europe.
7. The lack of reliable data on organised crime makes it hard to plan
strategies to combat this relatively little known form of crime. The Ministers
welcome the preparation of the first pan-European report on the situation
regarding organised crime in the Council of Europe’s member States and hope that
this work will be extended and continued in the future. They also call on the
Council of Europe to prepare comparative analysis of practices employed in
combating organised crime as a source of inspiration for the relevant
authorities in all the member States.
8. The financial power of certain criminal groups allows them to influence,
and even corrupt, the structures of the State. These groups use corruption to
avoid law enforcement, misuse the democratic decision-making processes, and
infiltrate the political and economic authorities. The Ministers welcome the
action taken at the Council of Europe to combat corruption and the adoption of:
• the 20 Guiding Principles for the Fight against Corruption;
• the Agreement on the “Group of States against Corruption – GRECO”, which is
the institution responsible for monitoring compliance with international
commitments regarding the fight against corruption;
• the Criminal Law Convention on corruption.
9. The Ministers appeal to all States to join the GRECO and to sign the
Criminal Law Convention on Corruption without delay. They also encourage the
Multi-Disciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC) to continue its work.
10. The Ministers note that organised criminal groups are exploiting the
global telecommunications networks to commit new types of crime or misuse the
unprecedented communication possibilities which they offer. They hope that the
Council of Europe will soon complete its work on an international treaty against
cyber-crime, making it possible, inter alia, to conduct transborder network
11. By definition, organised crime sets out to accumulate financial gains.
Most of the proceeds are laundered to give them a lawful appearance and
facilitate their injection into global financial circuits. International
co-operation against money laundering is essential here. The Ministers note with
satisfaction the growing number of ratifications of the Council of Europe
Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from
Crime (ETS No.141). They consider that this Convention should be reinforced with
new provisions to facilitate the conducting of enquiries and confiscation of
unlawful proceeds at international level, with the help of measures such as the
elimination of tax havens and offshore zones, the lifting of bank secrecy or the
sharing of confiscated assets. The Council of Europe should regularly monitor
the Convention’s application.
12. In this connection, the Ministers note with satisfaction that a system
for mutual evaluation of anti-laundering measures, inspired and supported by the
Financial Action Task Force (FATF), was set up at the Council of Europe in 1997.
This machinery should be consolidated and given the resources it needs to
13. The Ministers agree that the use of special investigation methods is
essential to uncover the activities of criminal groups. These methods require a
clear and appropriate legal framework, to prevent violations of the rights of
individuals. The Council of Europe could be instructed to define this framework,
which would have the effect of creating the climate of confidence needed to
develop co-operation between the police forces of member States.
14. Investigation of the activities of criminal groups often needs the help
of former members of these groups, who require protection. However, some States
may find this protection difficult to provide, in view of its cost and the
practical problems of all kinds which it entails. The Ministers take note of the
Council of Europe’s recent adoption of Recommendation R(97)13 concerning
intimidation of witnesses and the rights of the defence. They consider that
international co-operation methods should be developed to permit hearings trough
video conferencing at long range and the placement abroad of protected
15. The Ministers agree that effective action against organised crime depends
on the different services’ capacity for co-ordination, on establishing a
coherent system for the circulation of information, and on setting up
pluridisciplinary teams of police officers with a specialised knowledge of the
techniques used by criminals. They encourage the setting-up of such teams and
also the progressive development of a European contact network between them.
16. Urban insecurity contributes in its own way to the growth of organised
crime. Partnership between the police and the public is essential here. The
Ministers accordingly welcome the Secretary General’s initiative in setting up a
special programme to combat urban insecurity in several CIS countries, and
encourage development of this programme, which should be extended to other
17. The Ministers regard as useful the practice developed between EU member
countries of detaching liaison judges, who are often involved in organised crime
investigations. They accordingly ask the Council of Europe to explore the
preconditions for extension of the network of liaison judges at pan-European
18. The assistance given to police forces by the public is essential in any
effective strategy against organised crime and corruption. The Ministers
consider that every effort must be made to build confidence between the citizens
and their police. In this connection, they welcome the work of the Council of
Europe on police ethics and the problems of policing in a democratic society.
This work should make it possible, among other things, to define the ethical
principles which are inherent to any police force at the service of citizens in
States respectful of the rule of law.
19. The Ministers invite the Secretary General to take account of the above
conclusions and submit proposals to the Committee of Ministers with a view to
defining priorities, programmes and working methods to implement them. In this
connection, they also ask the Secretary General to make proposals on flexible
and appropriate structures for co-operation between the Ministries of the
Interior at pan-European level, which could be entrusted with the duty to
conduct the said programmes.
20. The Ministers agree to meet again in two years at the latest to assess
the progress made.