By Martin Banks - 5th March 2013
A lot of work remains to be done in the area of cybercrime
A senior European external action service (EEAS) official has called for greater effort to "restore a level playing field" in the battle against serious crime.
Speaking at a conference in Brussels, David O'Sullivan also conceded that "a lot of work still needs to be done" to combat the growing threat of cyber crime.
O'Sullivan, the chief operating officer at the EEAS, pointed out that global proceeds of transnational organised crime were estimated to amount to €650bn in 2009 or 1.5 per cent of global GDP.
This, he said, is more than six times the amount of official development assistance for that year.
"Organised crime thus has deep pockets. Together with technological progress and globalisation this gives criminals a comparative advantage over law enforcement agencies that are constrained by limited budgets, national rules and bureaucracies," he told the conference on serious crime.
"In my view, the only way to restore a level playing field is international cooperation, use of modern law enforcement techniques and appropriate budgets – yes, this costs money and it needs to be well-spent.
O'Sullivan told the conference, organised by the British chamber of commerce in Belgium, "The EU has been investing significant amounts of money and effort to help third countries in their fight against organised crime.
"Under the instrument for stability (IfS) alone we have allocated €50m to the fight against organised crime at the trans-regional and global level for the period 2007-2013.
"If the political will to fight organised crime is there, it also takes expertise to implement it. We draw expertise from relevant EU agencies, such as Europol or Frontex, from member states and also from regional or international organisations," he said.
He pointed out that the EU works closely with regional organisations, such as the Council of Europe.
"We support the implementation of the Council of Europe cybercrime convention, both politically and financially."
He added, "A lot of work remains to be done in the area of cybercrime and we have just issued, together with our colleagues from the commission, the EU cyber security strategy of which cybercrime is an important part.
"To address this fast growing area, the EU has recently opened the cybercrime centre, co-located with Europol. In the next two years the EU is funding several pilot projects to help European law enforcement to tackle cybercrime in third countries."
H said that cigarette smuggling is "increasingly a global phenomenon".
"When it comes to the EU's foreign policy we need to make sure that the EU's relations and negotiations with countries of 'origin and transit' and the EU's actions against cigarette smuggling dovetail and reinforce each other."
The official said the planned association agreement with Ukraine includes provisions on the approximation of excise duties on tobacco with the EU.
"Such provisions will also be included in the association agreements which are currently being negotiated with Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan," he added.