People want security for themselves and for their children. It’s true in normal times, and it’s true in Corona times. Security starts with the day-to-day fight against crime and terrorism by Europol and national law enforcement bodies, who are now cracking down on an epidemic of corona-related crime.
Recent achievements include foiling a €15 million face mask scam and the arrest of a dark web child sexual abuser.
We must always be one step ahead of the criminals and terrorists, who are constantly changing their methods.
The coming years we will present many concrete proposals and actions on the internal security of the European Union, for which I am responsible as Commissioner for Home Affairs.
We will target organised crime, possibly the largest single threat to the security of our citizens. Right now, more than 5,000 criminal groups are under investigation in Europe, most are active in several Member States.
We will help our police forces to further improve cross border cooperation and sharing of information related to criminal investigations such as DNA or fingerprints. This is necessary as organised crime groups operate across the EU.
We will fight organised crime by working with civil society to help Member States tackle corruption – which destroys trust, undermines democratic institutions and allows criminals to infiltrate the legal economy.
We will develop policies to counter the drug trade, which kills people – there were 8,000 overdose deaths in the EU in 2019 alone– and bankrolls organised crime.
We will tackle illegal firearms, used by criminals to commit crimes. There are 35 million illegal guns in Europe. We will adopt a new action plan on firearms trafficking, and will look into modernising the rules on the import and export of guns.
We are working to make sure that crime doesn’t pay. Organised crime groups make an estimated €110 billion in profits every year – only 1% of these profits are confiscated. We will assess possibilities of improving confiscation and asset recovery.
We will step up the fight against trafficking in human beings – a modern form of slavery and a source of income for criminals.
Besides organised crime, terrorism remains a significant threat. For 2018, Member States reported over 1,000 arrests and 129 foiled, failed and completed attacks, by Islamist extremists and increasingly by far right terrorists. Terrorists are not reducing their activities because of the virus.
To counter terrorism we will take further action to prevent and counter radicalisation, to protect public spaces and critical infrastructure, including from emerging threats such as unmanned drones. We will consider measures to deal with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and to restrict access to dangerous chemicals.
Criminals and terrorists are going online. We must upgrade our security policies for a digital age.
Cyber-attacks and disinformation pose a constant threat, even more now due to the corona crisis. Spending much more time behind their screens, people in lockdown are more vulnerable to online scams, bogus medicine sales, and terrorist content.
We must finalise our pending proposals. We need to conclude negotiations on online terrorist content – to stop terrorists from spreading their poison. 85 per cent of criminal investigations relies on electronic evidence – we need to update our rulebook to match the new digital reality.
We must fight the horrible crime of child sexual abuse. According to Internet Watch, Europe became global leader in hosting child sexual abuse imagery in 2019. The virus is making things worse: With perpetrators and home-schooled children constantly online, Europol reports a significant increase in online child sexual exploitation.
I am now preparing an EU strategy to fight this terrible crime.
Crime and terrorism ignore national borders. Our European and national law enforcement bodies must work seamlessly together.
That means implementing existing decisions on interoperability, because efficient data exchange is essential to catch cross-border criminals. I am keeping a close eye on progress on the implementation of our EU information systems architecture.
We will boost Europol’s mandate so it can exchange data directly with private parties, with banks for financial crimes and internet companies for terrorist content and online child sexual abuse.
Europe’s internal security does not end at our borders, but depends on the security of our neighbours, friends and partners.
We will work with countries in the Western Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East, with close friends like Canada and the United States.
Above all, we will let our values guide us. We will continuously strive for security that is high on people’s agenda and fully respects fundamental rights.
I look forward to working with the European Parliament on these proposals. As elected institution, close to the people, I know we share a common goal: Safety for all in Europe.
- Publication date
- 5 May 2020
- Directorate-General for Communication