Organised crime is the biggest threat to security in Europe, far exceeding that of terrorism and migration, according to security officials who spoke at a conference hosted by Europol in the Hague on Tuesday.
“Organized crime currently represents the highest risk for the internal security of the European Union,”Jari Liukku, head of the European Centre for Organised Crime at Europol told a conference organized by the European agency for cooperation between criminal police and the Italian anti-mafia agency.
According to speakers at the conference, organised crime has been “in the shadows” in recent years due to a wave of terrorist attacks and a major migration crisis in Europe. However, they believe that cross-border cooperation must now tackle this growing problem. “In order to prevent organised crime, we must act internationally, because this is what organised crime groups already do,” said Jari Liukku.
Asian, African and South American gangs have also established themselves in organised crime in Europe, generating €110 billion in illicit trade each year. More and more of these groups are working together, the European agencies noted.
Giuseppe Governale, head of the Italian Directorate of Antimafia investigations, said that the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta and the Camorra of Naples remain the most important criminal outfits, although the problem is not confined to Italy.
“It’s a European problem,” he said.
Mr. Governale also stressed the danger of money laundering by these groups: “Massive money laundering has a considerable impact on society, whole sectors are destabilized and this can put the economy and national security at risk.”
In a statement, Europol said that “top-level organised crime groups also use corruption to infiltrate public and private sector organisations, relying on bribery, conflicts of interest, trading in influence and collusion to facilitate their criminal activities.”
According to a report by the agency, between 2012 to 2014 just 2.2 percent of the estimated proceeds of crime were seized or frozen and only 1.1 percent ultimately confiscated across the EU.