EU Council calls for further improvements in the fight against serious and organised crime

epa08324074 A view of EU flags reflected on the closed doors of the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, 26 March 2020. EU leaders will debate the coordination of EU efforts to tackle the Covid-19 epidemic, as well as other issues, including foreign affairs, digital policy and enlargement. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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The Council of Ministers of the European Union has pushed for a stronger legal framework in the fight against serious and organised crime.

According to estimates, the proceeds of organised crime within the EU have reached 110 billion euros a year and that confiscation rates remain very low. Financial investigations are therefore of utmost importance for the European Union in preventing and combatting organised crime and terrorism. In recent years, the EU has significantly strengthened its legal framework for  countering money-laundering and financing of terrorism, as well as for access of law enforcement authorities to financial information. Nevertheless, further improvements may be considered.

In this light, it has asked the European Commission to consider strengthening the legal framework on the management of property frozen with a view of possible subsequent confiscation. It also wants it to consider further enhancing the legal framework in order to interconnect national centralised bank account registries, which would accelerate the access to financial information and facilitate cross border cooperation.

The highest inter-Ministerial body of the EU has also expressed willingness for the bloc to explore whether certain aspects of the work of financial intelligence units (FIUs) could be further adapted to enable a more efficient exchange of information.

It has also called for an improvement of the legal framework for virtual assets.

The Council also called on member states to enhance cooperation and to ensure that financial investigations, as a horizontal priority in the EU policy cycle for organised crime  – EMPACT, form part of all kinds of criminal investigations regarding organised crime.

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