The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The EU and its Member States thank Indonesia for pursuing this subject and leading us to focus on the need to better understand and address any evolving linkages between International Terrorism and Organised Crime, recognising that motivations and legal regimes for both are different.
The Addendum to the Madrid Guiding Principles adopted in December 2018 called upon all of us to continue to conduct research and collect information to enhance knowledge and to better understand the nature and scope of the links that may exist between terrorism and transnational organised crime.
As stated in the recent Council Conclusions on EU External Action on Preventing and Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, adopted on 16 June 2020, the EU recognises the importance of continued monitoring and of an effective response to the threat stemming from linkages between organised crime and terrorism. There is a need to strengthen international cooperation in order to improve information exchange and cooperation between counter-terrorism, law enforcement, judicial and border control authorities. This includes mitigating the security risks of linkages in prisons between organised crime and terrorist inmates.
In this regard, the EU strives to achieve a multidisciplinary, multi-agency, integrated approach to effectively tackling crime, including terrorism, while ensuring that any measures taken, respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, principled humanitarian action and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). To ensure this and find best solutions, we need cross-sectoral cooperation among humanitarian, financial and counter-terrorism experts. It is crucial for different law enforcement and other agencies specialized in both fields to work together; to share information and intelligence and to coordinate efforts at all levels to effectively respond to the challenges posed in both areas.
A new EU Security Union Strategy for the period 2020 to 2025 focuses on priority areas where the EU can bring added value to support Member States in fostering security. From combatting terrorism and organised crime, to preventing and detecting hybrid threats and increasing the resilience of our critical infrastructure, to promoting cybersecurity and fostering research and innovation, the strategy lays out the tools and measures to be developed over the next 5 years to ensure security in our physical and digital environment. It also recognises the increasing inter-connection between internal and external security.
In the EU, legislation to prevent and combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism is designed to prevent the financial markets from being misused for these purposes. Legislation must aim to address both issues simultaneously. It is imperative that we bar criminals from gaining access to capital by fighting money laundering effectively, and effectively disincentivising terrorism and organised crime. That legislation increases transparency about who beneficially owns companies and trusts to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing via opaque structures; improve the work of Financial Intelligence Units with better access to information through centralised bank account registers; tackles terrorist financing risks linked to anonymous use of virtual currencies and of pre-paid instruments; improves the cooperation and exchange of information between anti-money laundering supervisors and with the European Central Bank; etc.
With regard to drugs, the new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025 sets out the political framework and priorities for action in the next 5 years. It aims at enhancing security measures that focus on all aspects of illicit trafficking of drugs from organised crime groups to external border management and illicit distribution and production. It is also increasing prevention, including awareness raising of the adverse effects of drugs, notably the intersection between drug use, violence and other forms of crimes. Moreover, the EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025 addresses drug related harms through access to treatment, risk and harm reduction, and a balanced approach to the issue of drugs in prisons.
More significantly, the EU commits to tackling drug-related financial flows as the EU Member States have agreed to increase the number of financial investigations and encourage its relevant authorities to focus on seizure, confiscation and recovery of proceeds of crime, particularly money laundering, corruption and other criminal activities, including organised crime.
On 24 July 2020, a new EU Action Plan on trafficking of firearms between 2020 and 2025 was published. To safeguard the legal market for firearms and avoid diversion, it focuses on the enforcement and modernisation of EU legislation for the control of acquisitions and movements of firearms. To improve our knowledge of the threat of firearms trafficking, it proposes measures to develop comparable statistics on firearms events and seizures across the EU. To improve the crack-down on firearms-related crime, it proposes to give a new push to national Firearms Focal Points, develop new tools to better detect weapons in fast parcels and modernise legislation on sanctions and police cooperation. Finally, it proposes to step up international cooperation in particular with south-east Europe, for which it includes a number of specific actions.
We highlight the important role played by Eurojust, which contributes to improving judicial cooperation in the fight against serious crime, including terrorism and the role of Europol, the European Union's agency for law enforcement cooperation, which supports the Member States in preventing and combating all forms of serious international and organised crime and terrorism. Europol prepares a "Terrorism situation and trend report" every year. In the most recent report that has just been published, Europol noted that EU Member States observed that a substantial number of terrorists have a prior criminal record, mainly in different forms of non-organised crime. Illicit acquisition of material resources, such as theft of weapons and documents, has been identified as directly contributing to terrorist activity.
The EU will strengthen its cooperation with the UN, including its offices, in particular UNODC (for example on the Annual Report Questionnaire to monitor the world drug situation), and UNOCT in this area.
As we stated last year, the EU and its Member States continue to consider that it is useful to increase efforts to better understand further linkages between terrorism and organised crime. For these reasons, we welcome this debate and the opportunity it provides to share and highlight experiences.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.