The European Commission intends to strengthen its efforts to seize criminal assets by issuing ten strategic priorities to member states.
The new communication calls for swift action and requires each of the 27 member states to set up operational asset recovery offices as a matter of priority.
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 contact between asset recovery offices operating in member states, and EUROJUST should be increasingly involved in facilitating cooperation on freezing and confiscation at the level of magistrates. A common EU training programme for financial investigators will also be established.
Better European statistics on freezing, confiscating and recovering assets are needed while 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 Jacques Barrot, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, said: “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.
“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.”