COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - The prevention of crime in the European Union - Reflection on common guidelines and proposals for Community financial support
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COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT The prevention of crime in the European Union Reflection on common guidelines and proposals for Community financial support
(presented by the Commission)
2. Context and Definitions
2.1. The legal and political context
2.2.1. The concept of crime
2.2.2. The concept of prevention
3. Elements for a European strategy
3.1. Justification in terms of subsidiarity
4.1. Developing crime prevention in the policies of the European Union
4.2. Testing legislative proposals: crime proofing
4.3. Improving knowledge of the phenomena of crime
4.4. Networking those involved in prevention
4.5. Establishing a financial instrument
For two decades now, all the Union Member States have been confronted with a diversifying phenomenon of crime on an alarming scale, targeting citizens and their property, the business world and the public sector. This phenomenon is expensive to our societies (human cost for the victims, social and political cost, economic cost). Globalisation and the opening of markets in goods, services and capital have operated as unprecedented growth factors in Europe, but they have also facilitated an expansion of cross-border organised crime.
Often developing independently of crime itself, the sense of insecurity is a matter for the individual or collective perception of the citizens. This sense does not necessarily correspond to reality, but it is, however, fundamental in the Union citizens' assessment of their quality of life.
Against this backdrop, the authorities have become aware of the limits to the traditional enforcement measures of judicial systems and developed supplementary crime prevention initiatives, albeit in differing degrees.
The European Union has been working on crime prevention since 1996. The Stockholm conference, for instance, examined the prevention of crime connected with European economic integration but also the prevention of crime connected with social exclusion. Several seminars followed (Brussels, 1996; Nordwijk, 1997; London, 1998), constituting successive stages of the development of a Union approach to prevention. One of the main recommendations has concerned the need to develop exchanges of national know-how and experience. This question of the exchange of good practices has recurred regularly and been at the focus of cooperation against crime.
Regarding the fight against organised crime, where the European Union's activities are more highly developed, the Plan of Action adopted by the Amsterdam European Council in 1997 calls, among other things, for preventive measures to back up enforcement measures. The Union's strategy for the beginning of the new millennium, adopted on 29 March 2000 by way of follow-up to the 1997 Plan of Action,  further reinforces this dimension.
 OJ C 124, 3.5.2000, p. 1.
The Amsterdam Treaty gives the European Union the possibility of taking more general and more determined action. The purpose of this communication is to contribute to the debate on the European crime prevention policy launched by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council at Praia da Falésia on 4 and 5 May this year. There the Commission announced its intention of preparing a communication on crime prevention, including proposals for a Community financial instrument. That is the subject-matter of this document, which will be sent for consultation to all the institutions and bodies concerned.
2. Context and Definitions
2.1. The legal and political context
The Treaty of Amsterdam and the Tampere European Council
The Amsterdam Treaty marked an important stage; Article 29 included the prevention of crime in general (whether organised or otherwise) among the policies of the Union for the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice. The issue of crime prevention, hitherto addressed in terms of organised crime, must now be addressed in more general terms.
The Tampere European Council stressed the importance of this objective at points 41 and 42 of its conclusions:
'41. The European Council calls for the integration of crime prevention aspects into actions against crime as well as for the further development of national crime prevention programmes. Common priorities should be developed and identified in crime prevention in the external and internal policy of the Union and be taken into account when preparing new legislation.
42. The exchange of best practices should be developed, the network of competent national authorities for crime prevention and cooperation between national crime prevention organisations should be strengthened and the possibility of a Community funded programme should be explored for these purposes. The first priorities for this cooperation could be juvenile, urban and drug-related crime.'
The European Parliament has repeatedly asked the Council and the Member States to take initiatives for the prevention of crime, and in particular drug-related urban crime.
The Praia da Falésia Conference
The Portuguese Presidency organised a ministerial conference on 4 and 5 May 2000 to launch a debate on the utilisation of the possibilities offered by the Amsterdam Treaty and the action to be taken on the conclusions of the Tampere European Council. It was an opportunity to:
- take stock of initiatives, projects and views of the bodies of the European Union and of international organisations;
- review the situation in the European Union on the basis of a first survey of national experience;
- identify certain guidelines for future action on prevention in the European Union.
Given the links between organised crime and crime in general, the Conference concluded that a European crime prevention strategy should cover both aspects, even if specific action was called for in relation to organised crime.
The Council Resolution on prevention of organised crime
Following the initial recommendations on the prevention of organised crime in the 1997 Plan of Action, the Council wished the Union to go further down this road. In a Resolution adopted in December 1998 it called on the Commission and Europol to work together on preparing a report by the end of 2000 with proposals for European initiatives on the prevention of organised crime. This report is to add practical proposals to the points made in the strategy for the new millennium.
A first seminar involving representatives of the public authorities, the academic world and business and representatives of civil society was organised at The Hague in November 1999. A second conference, prepared by the Portuguese Presidency, the Commission and Europol at Costa da Caparica in May 2000 continued the dialogue started in The Hague and fleshed out the elements of a European strategy. In the more specific field of drugs, the Finnish Presidency organised a Conference in July 1999 covering the role of the enforcement authorities in prevention.
The Commission and Europol working paper which will be presented later proceeds from the conclusions of these seminars, from a review of practices in the Member States and from the results of specific studies financed by the Falcone Programme. It will propose a strategy based on the analysis and prevention of opportunities for crime on the basis of structures for study and data analysis concerning organised crime that are needed to increase the crime-prevention capacity of the European institutions and the Member States.
Prevention in the work of the European Community and the international Community
The European Union has regularly addressed the question of crime prevention, initially in connection with certain types of crime such as trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children but also in horizontal terms, for example in:
- the Commission Communication of 14 July 1999 on the victims of crime in the European Union;
- the Commission Communication on the mutual recognition of final judgments, which covers two areas that are relevant to prevention - the mutual recognition of certain disqualification measures and the mutual recognition of criminal convictions;
- the European Union Action Plan against Drugs (2000-04), a major dimension of which is prevention of drug-addiction and dealing;
- the Commission Communication on fraud against the Community budget, approved on 28 June his year, which lays down a comprehensive strategy. That subject is accordingly not addressed in this Communication. Implementation of this comprehensive strategy foresees the strengthening of community texts in order to make them more resistant to fraud, as well as the development of a cooperative culture favourable to the prevention of corruption
The Commission considers that it is also important to take advantage of the work and experience of the various international bodies and to secure consistency between the action of the European Union and the action of, in particular, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. This multilateral dimension is of particular importance in the fight against transnational organised crime, and in this context the United Nations Convention and the Protocols to it (the Commission has been fully involved in negotiating them) will offer a valuable general framework for reinforcing international cooperation.
This work and these ideas have prompted the Commission to adopt an overall approach in this communication, which presents a strategy for the prevention of all forms of crime.
2.2.1. The concept of crime
Crime includes punishable conduct by individuals and by spontaneous associations of persons. The concept, however, covers separate realities:
- crime in the strict sense, i.e. offences defined as such in national criminal laws (e.g. homicide, rape, certain illegal trafficking);
- less serious offences that are actually more frequent (e.g. theft, handling stolen goods, acts of violence, fraud, embezzlement);
- violence in various contexts (schools, sports stadiums, public highways, domestic violence etc.);
- anti-social conduct which, without necessarily being a criminal offence, can by its cumulative effect generate a climate of tension and insecurity.
Organised crime is in a category of its own, defined by Article 1  of the Joint Action on making it a criminal offence to participate in a criminal organisation in the Member States of the European Union of 21 December 1998: 
 A very similar definition is given in the future UN Convention against transnational organised crime:
 Council Joint Action adopted on 21.12.1998, OJ L 351, 29.12.1998, p.1.
- a criminal organisation shall mean a structured association, established over a period of time, of more than two persons, acting in concert with a view to committing offences which are punishable by deprivation of liberty ... of a maximum of at least four years or a more serious penalty;
- whether such offences are an end in themselves or a means of obtaining material benefits and, where appropriate, of improperly influencing the operation of public authorities;
- the offences referred to in the first subparagraph include those mentioned in Article 2 of the Europol Convention and in the Annex thereto and carrying a sentence at least equivalent to that provided for in the first subparagraph.
2.2.2. The concept of prevention
There are numerous definitions of crime prevention. For the purposes of this communication, the Commission proposes the following definition:
Crime prevention includes all activities which contribute to halting or reducing crime as a social phenomenon, both quantitatively and qualitatively, either through permanent and structured cooperation measures or through ad hoc initiatives. These activities are undertaken by all the actors likely to play a preventive role: local representatives, enforcement services and the judicial system, social services, education system, associations in the broad sense, industry, banks and the private sector, research workers and scientists, and the general public, supported by the media.
Specialised studies distinguish various approaches to prevention focusing either on the victims or on the perpetrators of criminal or punishable conduct, or on persons or social groups at risk, or on risk situations.
Three categories of measures can thus be distinguished according to whether they are intended to:
* reduce opportunities, making crime more difficult and riskier and reducing the profits to criminals;
* reduce the social and economic factors which encourage the development of crime;
* provide information and protection for victims and prevent victimisation.
Convergence of national experience
Prevention as a complement to enforcement policy is a concept widely accepted in the Member States, and experiments conducted so far have yielded encouraging results. In the light of the current experiments, the Commission notes that there are constant factors in the strategies which, in general:
* develop a multi-disciplinary approach;
* articulate preventive action, security policies and flanking policies (police and judicial policies, social, educational and research policies, etc.);
* develop partnership between those involved in prevention on the ground that prevention works only if all the components of society are involved.
These principles, shared by all the Member States, make it possible already to speak of a "European model" of crime prevention.
3. Elements for a European strategy
3.1. Justification in terms of subsidiarity
The Member States' responsibilities are essential in crime prevention matters. They are exercised through the various national policies contributing to crime prevention, such as criminal law, social policy, education, town planning, taxation, etc. With regard to general crime, the tendency is moreover to develop preventive action as close as possible to the grass-roots level, as can be seen from the emergence of multiple local and contractual policies, "community policing" practices and local justice and police forces and the involvement of partners from different backgrounds.
Intervention by the European Union is likely to add real value to these policies.
For one thing, the problems of cross-border organised crime are recognised as a matter of common concern for the Member States, and Community instruments and instruments of judicial and police cooperation must be mobilised at the same time. For another, with regard to general crime, the Tampere European Council already identified a number of common features: this involves crime that is often urban and drug-related, in which juvenile delinquency is an major source of concern. Thorough analysis in all the Member States of the Union would probably make it possible to identify other constant factors.
In addition, prevention methods are also tending to converge, but without adequate knowledge beyond the local, regional or national level. Sharing experience and good practices, which has produced good results in other fields of justice and home affairs, would improve the treatment of these problems.
The European Union strategy should therefore operate on two levels:
It will initially be centred on national prevention policies. To achieve the objectives mentioned above, Member States will must undertake resolutely to intensify their efforts to prevent crime, both organised and general. To that end, they should adopt or strengthen national prevention strategies. The stock-taking of the policies followed by the Member States and the exchange of information and experience between them that began at the Praia da Falésia conference must be continued. This exercise will make it possible to decide what could usefully be done by the Union.
In the second place, these policies will be supplemented by action of the European Union, which, without replacing national, regional or local action, will supplement the pyramid of responsibilities and facilitate national action while highlighting topics of common interest.
The Commission considers first of all that to be fully effective, the response to the challenge of crime must be comprehensive and be based on complementarity between enforcement and preventive instruments since rapid, well-adapted and proportionate penalties and effective monitoring of the implementation of penalties are in themselves dissuasive and therefore preventive. It is important for the Member States to provide for penalties for offences against Community legislation in appropriate cases.
Then, it must be stressed that prevention by definition concerns offences that have not been committed and calls for heightened vigilance, which could entail security measures that would impose excessive constraints on the citizen. Close attention must be paid to ensuring that the Union's preventive action respects the fundamental principles of law and public freedoms.
Since the prevention strategy seeks to protect both the citizen and society, the European Union should set itself the following targets:
* To reduce opportunities for crime, so as to increase the risks that the criminal will be detected and punished and to reduce the possibilities of profiting from his crime;
* To reduce the factors which facilitate entry into the world of crime and repetition;
* To avoid victimisation, i.e. all those factors which, by placing a person in a situation of vulnerability, predispose him to being a victim of crime;
* To reduce the sense of insecurity;
* To promote and disseminate a law-abiding culture and a management culture designed to avert conflicts;
* To promote good governance and, in particular, to prevent corruption;
* To prevent criminal infiltration of the structures of the economy and society.
Since this is a new Union policy, the Commission considers that prioritisation is essential, proceeding from the guidelines laid down at the Tampere European Council and the Prahia da Falésia conference. As regards general crime, attention must be devoted initially to urban, juvenile and drug-related crime. As regards organised crime, priority actions must aim at high-tech crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, and in particular the exploitation of women, the sexual exploitation of children, financial crime and euro counterfeiting.
To achieve these objectives and in view of the thinking already under way, the Union strategy should focus on three points:
(1) Knowledge: to improve understanding of the phenomena of crime, stressing the identification of new trends, the study of the impact of preventive action and the evaluation and sharing of national experience and practices;
(2) Partnership: to develop cooperation and the networking of those involved in prevention at all levels - European, national and local. The accent should be at the same time on raising awareness of the prevention concept, the exchange of information, launching new projects and following them up, and disseminating the results;
(3) Multi-disciplinary approach: to promote the complementarity of instruments with a view to developing prevention techniques and methods, in particular reducing the opportunities for crime, and to launching projects.
As regards organised crime, given certain specific features of it and the specific requests made in the Council Resolution of December 1998, a complementary analysis carried out by the Commission and Europol will be presented later.
To support the implementation of this strategy, the Commission proposes the following horizontal actions and instruments:
4.1. Developing crime prevention in the policies of the European Union
Many of the Union's policies, although not expressly targeting crime prevention, contribute to it by promoting economic and social cohesion, growth and employment or a transparent economic environment.
The Council Resolution of December 1998 on the prevention of organised crime and the conclusions of the High-Level Conference of May 2000 on crime prevention, asked the Commission to evaluate existing Community policies and instruments in terms of their contribution to crime prevention. Following this examination, the Commission wishes to develop a more structured approach allowing systematic use of Community policies and instruments.
The following policies are specifically concerned:
- Regulation of economic and financial activity
Policies for the control or regulation of economic activities implemented at Community level, in particular within the framework of the internal market, contribute to preventing fraud, corruption and crime. What really matters here is the set of instruments aiming at transparency in public procurement, the prevention of the use of the financial system for money-laundering, fair trading, rules governing the liability of bodies corporate, checks on the movement of sensitive goods and transport, and communication and data-processing technologies.
The Commission has already made proposals on prevention of fraud in payment instruments,  money-laundering,  fraud in public procurement,  counterfeiting and piracy.  New proposals or additional studies will also be needed on other priority matters. The Joint Council meeting (ECOFIN and JHA) on 17 October gave the Commission a mandate to investigate the possibilities of increasing the consistency and the force of existing national provisions for the surveillance of cross-border cash movements. The Commission was also called on to identify measures that would help solve the difficulties, widely acknowledged on the international scene, of front companies and other opaque legal creatures in the fight against money-laundering. 
 The Commission is planning to adopt an action plan by the end of the year.
 The proposal for amendment of the Directive of 10 July 1991 on prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money-laundering is in the process of being adopted.
 In addition to a proposal for amendment of the Community rules governing public procurement now under discussion in the Council, the Commission has set up a working party to examine the advisability of additional measures such as the development of black lists and the exchange of information on tenderers.
 An action plan will follow up the Green Paper on combating counterfeiting and piracy in the internal market, adopted on 15.10.1998.
 The Council asked the Commission for a report on the question of establishing minimum transparency criteria for the various forms of body corporate (notably trusts and foundations) in order to provide means of identifying the economic beneficiaries more closely.
- Social policy
The fight against social exclusion is a strategic objective set for the European Union by the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000. Since crime prevention fits into the European social model recognised in Lisbon, the programme against social exclusion should be more closely matched to the crime prevention strategy. The Commission's adoption of a new social agenda, which stresses higher standards of living and a higher quality of life, might be an opportunity for action here, in particular for the prevention of drug-addiction.
The fight against racism and xenophobia, another main principle of the fight against discrimination, is also related to the aim of prevention. It calls for aid for the social, economic and cultural integration of immigrants, training, and in particular education in the multicultural society, and for a fight against all the forms of discrimination (in housing, employment, access to education etc.). The Commission programme includes an action plan to develop the exchange of information, experience and good practices. 
 The aim of this programme, which covers the period 2001-06, is directly related to the aim of prevention treated here and its discussion continues in the Council and Parliament.
- Urban policy
Like Parliament and the Committee of the Regions, the Commission emphasises the importance of the urban dimension in crime prevention policy. Under Article 4(1) and (7) of Regulation No 1260/1999 laying down general provisions concerning the Structural Funds the Commission, on a proposal from the Member State, may include urban areas in difficulty, in particular those with a high crime and delinquency rate, in the list of areas eligible for Objective 2. Measures relating to urban areas in difficulty could be incorporated in broader programmes implemented in Objective 1 and 2 regions, using multi-sectoral territorial policies.  Lastly, the URBAN initiative financed by the ERDF, launched in 1994 and renewed in 1999, reflects this concern to promote local initiatives and actions, in particular in areas in difficulty in major conurbations.  It could also provide a link between small-scale innovative approaches and the adoption of an integrated, participatory approach in the main Structural Fund programmes.
 Cf. "Sustainable Urban Development in the European Union: A Framework for Action" (COM(98)605, 28.10.1998) and the Commission Communication on "The Structural Funds and their coordination with the Cohesion Fund: Guidelines for programmes in the period 2000-06", Part III.1.
 The relevant urban areas, towns or districts, must meet at least three conditions, including a high rate of unemployment, a high rate of poverty and exclusion, a high number of immigrants, ethnic minorities or refugees, a low level of education, a high crime and delinquency rate and a particularly damaged environment.
In the future, the accent should be on crime resulting from inadequate urban planning. In particular, the situation of insecurity and/or crime should be among the indicators of the urban audits regularly carried out in the large cities of the European Union.
- Regional policy
The Community supports economic and social cohesion initiatives which indirectly contribute to crime prevention. More directly the ERDF can already be made to contribute, via national programmes, to supporting initiatives to fight and prevent crime. The most significant example is the programme presented by Italy concerning security in the development of the Mezzogiorno in the context of the Objective 1 programme for 1994-99 and renewed for 2000-06. For the moment this is still a special case reflecting structural problems affecting the fabric of society and conditioning the region's economic development.
In addition INTERREG, also financed by the ERDF, allows more targeted interventions on internal and external borders and cross-border areas in the Union, particularly in relation to urban development, social inclusion and judicial and administrative cooperation.
Even if the cohesion policy does not for the moment identify crime prevention as one of its objectives, it would not seem to rule out the inclusion of projects in this field, and in due course they could enter the mainstream of regional policy.
- Research policy
There are already specific research programmes on security of networks and the fight against computer crime. Within the framework of the European Research Area (2002-06), the Commission will examine the possibilities of using techniques, and in particular new technologies, for crime prevention in general.
Concerning economic and social research, the fifth Framework Research Programme  makes it possible to study the causes of social problems, to ascertain the statistical reality and compare good practices. A Working Party has been set up to examine in their context the problems of school and urban violence, drug-addiction and more generally the sense of insecurity and the solutions found by the Member States. New initiatives could aim, for example, to study the factors of effectiveness of the prevention policies.
 Council and Parliament Decision 1999/182/EC, OJ L 26, 1.2.1999, p. 27.
- The information society
The forthcoming Commission Communication on making the information society safer by combating computer crime will propose comprehensive action to make computer networks, including Internet, safer.
Among the Union's priorities, the Commission wishes to see rapid implementation of the measures and recommendations in its Communication. To that end, the Commission will consult interested parties, industries, users and police authorities and evaluate the advisability of new legal instruments.
- External policy
The Community's cooperation and assistance policies and programmes extensively incorporate the fight against crime already. The Commission suggests that the EC/EU pursue its action in the various international bodies concerned, notably the United Nations and the Council of Europe. It recalls that the Community has already declared its intention of acceding to the United Nations Convention against organised transnational crime and the two Protocols against trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants. The expertise accumulated by the OSCE, notably in terms of "new risks to security" and protecting the concept of the state based on the rule of law, must be brought into the equation.
The Commission considers that it would be worth developing cooperation with certain third countries via existing international networks and forums such as the International Crime Prevention Centre,  whose expertise is generally acknowledged. Lastly, it will be necessary to gradually associate the applicant countries with Union crime prevention activities. The PHARE programmes preparing the applicant countries for accession to the Union are already used to finance preventive action.  The Commission intends to make full use of the possibilities for involving these countries in the various existing and future instruments and financial programmes, and in particular those proposed in this communication (financial programme, Forum for Prevention etc.).
 The CIPC, set up to serve cities and countries seeking to reduce crime and insecurity, is made up of cities, national prevention organisations and institutes, and is supported by several Member States - France, Portugal, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
 An example is the PHARE multi-beneficiary programme against drugs, the PHARE programme of cross-border cooperation and the customs modernisation programme.
- Environment policy:
The various ad hoc initiatives and measures taken in performance of obligations imposed by international or Community environment legislation already help in the fight against environmental crime (including illegal trade in species of fauna and flora threatened with extinction and products derived from them; the illegal discharge and transfer of radioactive waste and substances; illegal pollution and the disposal and storage of waste, including the transfer of hazardous waste entering and leaving the Union; and illegal trade in substances which deplete the ozone layer). But the implementation of these initiatives and measures would be facilitated if there were greater cooperation and exchange of information and experience between the various actors. And environmental crime transcends the Community's borders - this is a truly global phenomenon, where prevention should entail a dimension of cooperation with applicant and third countries.
As all these examples show, the existing Community policies and instruments already give numerous possibilities of action. To put them more at the service of prevention, the Commission will endeavour to create greater consistency between the crime prevention elements already present in these policies and instruments.
4.2. Testing legislative proposals: crime proofing
This topic was broached both in the Tampere conclusions and in the conclusions of the Praia da Falésia Conference. The concept remains to be specified,  in particular in relation to fraud proofing,  but it can nevertheless be defined as the evaluation of existing or planned legislative instruments against the yardstick of crime-proofing.
 A study on this topic, financed by the Falcone Programme, will produce its first results at the end of 2000.
 With regard to the prevention of fraud against the Community budget, the Commission (OLAF) communication from 28th June indicated the intention of establishing an instrument to evaluate the quality of legislation. This instrument will "ensure that the Office may be consulted at the stage of preparation and at the various stages in the decision making process of all the legislative initiatives which have a direct or indirect impact on the protection of the Community's financial interests to ensure a better proofing against fraud and corruption". (COM 2000 (358), p.7)
This evaluation would be made when any new legislation or decision is drafted, both in the European Union and in the Member States. It is at that point that the opportunities for crime that the proposal might offer need to be identified.
The Commission will be at pains to evaluate the possible impact of its legislative proposals in terms of opportunities for crime, particularly in sensitive areas. Preparations for the introduction of the euro are an example of forward planning taking into consideration the risks that might flow from the single currency. The ideal time for the evaluation is not only the inter-departmental consultation stage but also the actual drafting stage, and even the publication of initial consultation documents (Communication, Green or White Paper).
There should also be a similar evaluation when the Member States take initiatives for the preparation of national legislation, including subordinate legislation.
But the risks of criminal action are not confined to new instruments alone. Existing legislation should also be evaluated, both Community instruments and international instruments to which the Community accedes. It would be unrealistic to propose full screening of all this legislation, but it would be conceivable to run a risk analysis on major areas of legislation so as to identify areas that are less crime-proof and make recommendations to eliminate the loopholes. The Commission could contemplate this evaluation when reports on the implementation of Community legislation are prepared, so that it can make any necessary crime-proofing proposals or additional proposals, in particular in police and judicial matters.
Whether this evaluation is ex ante or ex post, it presupposes a reinforcement of the Commission's internal consultation and analysis mechanisms. A serious examination should involve specialists and experts, in particular those of the police and judicial authorities. This is a field where information exchanges between experts and centres of excellence should be developed.
4.3. Improving knowledge of the phenomena of crime
Comparability of data
The Action Plan to combat organised crime adopted by the Amsterdam European Council in June 1997 recognised the usefulness of data collected and analysed on a European scale. The Member States and the Commission were invited to establish or identify, "set up or identify a mechanism for the collection and analysis of data which is so construed that it can provide a picture of the organised crime situation in the Member State and which can assist law enforcement authorities in fighting organised crime" (Recommendation 2). The Action Plan also specified the conditions for working towards this objective and called on the Member States to use "common standards" for data gathering and analysis. Europol and the Member States followed this up when drawing up the annual Report on the situation of organised crime in the European Union.
As regards general crime, the absence of reliable and comparable data on phenomena in Europe is an obstacle to the comparison of national policies for combating and preventing crime. Yet such a comparison, while having its limits, is an important means of validating policies and evaluating practices, as was underlined at various seminars.
Given the proximity or similarity of certain situations in the Member States, despite legal differences that remain substantial, and the increasing convergence of national policies, an effort must be made in the Union to improve the comparability of quantitative and qualitative data. The Council of Europe is working on the matter, as is the United Nations, in particular regarding data on general crime.
Since there is a considerable variety of users and of needs, and these needs are bound to develop with the implementation of the Amsterdam Treaty, the efforts to be made must be multidisciplinary but also involve the various actors such as the Commission (in particular the Statistical Office), Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, to avoid duplications and promote better complementarity of efforts and results.
Some initiatives are already under way. In the field of drugs, the Action Plan of the European Union (2000-04) also calls on the Council and the Commission, on the basis of work done by Europol and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, to produce a common definition of the concept of "drug-related crime" to underlie an objective comparison between the numbers of drug-related offences. In the field of racism and xenophobia, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia is also working on statistics.
Providing objective and relevant indicators is an essential dimension of a strategy which claims to be based on better knowledge of the phenomena of crime. In terms of a partnership strategy, they must be such as to be useful both to official authorities and to groups and entities that are vulnerable to crime.
The studies and seminars carried out until now have shown the contribution of cross-referring data from different origins, both for understanding these phenomena and for updating in the light of new trends in crime. Here, supplementing traditional information sources with information from, in particular, private-sector sources, would undeniably provide added value.
The development of a prevention strategy close to the people also demands analysis of the sense of insecurity and its pattern. Among the studies to be carried out on this topic, public opinion surveys are a valuable source of information. A Eurobarometer on the perception of security among Europe's citizens was conducted in 1996. The Commission intends to carry out such surveys from time to time.
Sharing experience and good practice presupposes evaluating them first of all, according to common criteria, in order to determine if and in what conditions they can be taken over or generalised.
As regards prevention of organised crime, a study is in hand covering the principal criteria and procedures which might be followed to facilitate this. The aim is to propose a technique for evaluating national practices highlighting the conditions in which this experience was gained and the elements which could be reproduced.
The conclusions of this study will be helpful for the analysis of good practices in the prevention of general crime. The work done during the German Presidency for the development of a European manual of good practices must also be taken into account.
4.4. Networking those involved in prevention
Establishing a European Forum for the prevention of organised crime
The approach proposed in this Communication is largely based on the mobilisation and networking of those involved in prevention, whether of "petty crime" or of transnational crime.
There are many topics to be treated, the nature of the information exchanged is not the same, and the same experts cannot deal indiscriminately with questions ranging from social mediation to cybercrime. In the field of petty crime, it is more especially the social partners who must be associated with the efforts of the official authorities, whereas in the field of economic and financial crime, and a fortiori of organised crime, business and professional circles must be involved in prevention.
The Commission supports the initiative taken by the French Presidency and Sweden proposing the creation of a European network of prevention focusing on urban, juvenile and drug-related crime. Meeting one of the priorities set by the Tampere European Council, the adoption of this network will be a component of the implementation of this strategy and will need to mesh with the other proposals made in this strategy.
Concerning organised crime, the Commission notes that raising the awareness of business and financial circles and certain professions particularly exposed to the risks of corruption or implication in money-laundering and fraud operations of the dangers and costs of crime is at its beginnings. Initiatives such as the round table of European industrialists on questions of security and crime prevention and the European Charter on vulnerable professions signed on 27 July 1999 should be encouraged and extended at Union level.
An initiative therefore appears necessary. The Commission is accordingly proposing that a European Forum for the prevention of organised crime be established. Affecting an extremely wide range of fields, lawful and unlawful dealings in goods, cybercrime, corruption, financial crime, environmental crime and the role of certain key professions, the prevention of organised crime and economic crime requires the Forum to meet in a variety of formations, depending on the topics treated, and to set up specialised working groups.
Representatives of the European institutions and bodies working on prevention, national coordination bodies, relevant public services and in particular the judicial and police authorities, local and regional authorities, business and financial circles are the most likely to be involved in the Forum. Moreover, relevant associations and occupational circles - the professions, the media and security organisations - must be involved, depending on the topics treated.
The purpose of the European Forum for the prevention of organised crime is to widen the debate on prevention to all those involved, to prompt pilot initiatives and projects with a European dimension and thus cause projects to emerge that meet the conditions laid down in the financial programme. These projects will include the setting up of the tools and instruments specified in the joint analysis by Europol and the Commission.
The role of the Forum
The European Forum for the prevention of organised is a Commission initiative that seeks first and foremost to structure prevention work at European level. It provides a framework for networking experts and launching initiatives. But as the Forum aims to promote and coordinate dialogue on prevention at European level, national coordination structures should be set up, where they do not already exist, both in the public services and in civil society. The scope and effectiveness of the dialogue started at European level will depend mainly on the relay facilities that these structures can provide.
The European Forum for the prevention of organised should also interact with other existing discussion forums and working groups in specific sectors, both European  and international, and provide input for their activities.
 Thus, for example, in relation to the protection of the environment, the work of the IMPEL network, or in relation to the fight against fraud and the protection of the Community's financial interests, the work of COCOLAF
The Forum will have to:
- be available to the European institutions and the Member States, to assist them on the questions concerning the prevention of this type of crime;
- contribute to identifying new crime trends;
- facilitate the exchange of information on preventive action;
- contribute to the setting up and operation of the expertise centres (centres of excellence, networks, data banks) on specific topics;
- contribute to identifying fields of research, training and evaluation.
The Commission wishes to design the Forum in such a way that it can be managed by a lightweight structure that can be supplied by its own departments.
Dissemination of information
The Commission will examine with the partners concerned the need to set up a web site on prevention to facilitate access to information on European and national policies and practices and allow the exchange of information in connection with the work of the European prevention networks.
4.5. Establishing a financial instrument
The Tampere European Council suggested that consideration should be given to European Union financial support for the crime prevention strategy. The Commission has come to the conclusion that a financial instrument would add value to the action of the Member States, as it announced at Praia da Falésia.
The aim of the instrument will be to encourage the implementation of the strategy set out in this communication. It is clear from points 41 and 42 of the Tampere conclusions that it must extend to all forms of crime and support the actions mentioned in this communication in accordance with priorities to be determined. The definition of these priorities will also take account of the actions proposed by the joint Commission and Europol working paper on the prevention of organised crime.
European intervention will take the form of an ad hoc financial instrument. Projects would be open to the applicant countries, under the same conditions as for the latter.
Whatever formula is selected, the financial instrument should comprise two aspects, one devoted to cross-border organised crime and the other to general crime.
The projects to be supported by the financial instrument, fed by the European Network for crime prevention and the European Forum for the prevention of organised crime, could thus be as follows:
- Meetings and seminars
- Studies and research: this would involve progressing towards better knowledge of the phenomenon (cf. the practice of "problem-oriented policing" or the concept of "knowledge-based crime prevention");
- Pilot projects: the financial instrument could contribute financially to innovative projects with a European dimension (e.g. centres of excellence, data banks);
- Exchange of good practices
As in the case of other Title VI projects, the financial instrument would be managed by the Commission, assisted by a management committee consisting of representatives of the Member States. It would determine the annual priorities of the financial instrument and take decisions on Commission proposals for the use of appropriations. Projects could be financed up to 70%, which would make it possible to support projects emanating from non-governmental partners.
The financial instrument would be regarded as a pilot operation, and would be established by decision under Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union for an initial two-year period (2001-02). With regard to financial amounts, there should be a cautious start. An annual budget of EUR1 million appears reasonable, pending the Commission's general proposals on the programmes that it manages.
Lastly, the first priorities could be defined in 2001. The conference to be organised under the Swedish Presidency in February 2001 could be a useful opportunity to define a first set of practical priorities and to facilitate the launch of the financial instrument as soon as the corresponding decision is taken.
The Commission asks the European Parliament, the Council, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee to examine this communication and make their views known on the crime prevention strategy proposed in it.
Having regard to the suggested approach, based on the association of all those involved in prevention in the definition of new projects, the Commission also asks the relevant professional and other associations and organisations representing industry and services, and any organisation or association representing civil society which may be concerned, to take note of this communication and make their views known.