The European Union (or EU as listed on AbbreviationFinder) was founded in 1958 and aims to “promote peace, its values and the welfare of the peoples” (quoted from the current treaty). The organization is led by the European Council, which is made up of the heads of state and government of the member states. Among the issues that the EU has to deal with are creating growth and prosperity, meeting the climate threat and securing energy supply for Europe.
Crime and punishment
When the EU tore up national borders, even criminals could begin to move freely between member states. The EU therefore created the police cooperation Europol, which was then supplemented with more forms of law enforcement cooperation.
Europol started as a liaison center for police officers from national police forces, which in 1999 was located at a headquarters in The Hague. The police collected information to analyze crime patterns and eventually also began to coordinate raids against organized crime operating in several EU countries.
Europol’s mission today is to focus on serious, cross-border crime. Europol in The Hague has grown from just over 300 police officers in 2001 to more than 1,000 police officers in 2016. In addition, 14 other countries, such as the United States, Australia and Colombia, have chosen to station at least one liaison police officer at Europol to facilitate cooperation with Europeans.
Every four years, an EU strategy is drawn up that identifies current criminal threats and then forms the basis for operational plans. In 2018, for example, cybercrime was high on the list, as were human trafficking, illegal arms trade and environmental crime.
Since 2008, EU police forces have been able to access each other’s databases with information on the information of criminals or criminal suspects, including fingerprints and DNA. Customs and border police also cooperate and have a common database of wanted persons and goods, fingerprints, etc.
Police cooperation takes place at all levels, for example in a network for the highest police chiefs, a network for crime prevention and a police academy (CEPOL), located in Budapest, Hungary.
It also takes place at ground level where police from different countries are helped to monitor, for example, football matches, demonstrations or traveling on board trains. Police near a border may have the right to, for example, continue to pursue a suspect and also arrest a person on the other side of the border.
Since 2007, the EU countries have been cooperating more on counter-terrorism, and this is now happening primarily from an anti-terrorism center at Europol in The Hague. Ever since the terrorist attack in New York in 2001, the EU countries’ security police have also had regular contacts and closer exchanges. Recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Berlin have, however, revealed that the will and ability to share sometimes fails. Important information has far from always been shared in time.
In 2001, the EU also acquired a European network of prosecutors to prosecute criminal offenses. Eurojust, based in The Hague right next to Europol, helps handle evidence against suspected criminals when crimes have been committed in another country. A prosecutor can issue an arrest warrant that must be executed by police in other EU countries.
However, Eurojust cannot prosecute itself in any Member State. In 2017, therefore, 16 of the EU’s 28 countries chose to set up a special EU prosecutor (called EPPO) through so-called in-depth cooperation, who can bring charges himself. This prosecutor will work with crimes committed against the EU’s interests such as fraud with EU grants and with terrorist crimes. Sweden chose not to participate from the start.
Within the EU, courts can also contribute to the pursuit of crime, for example by approving evidence obtained by the police abroad, or having a sentence enforced in Sweden even if it has been handed down in another EU country. The financial assets of criminals can be frozen by a court, regardless of the EU country in which the assets are located. Anyone convicted of a crime in another EU country can be sent back to their home country to serve their sentence. For several serious crimes, EU countries have chosen to coordinate their penalties.
Finally, citizens can get legal aid if they are exposed to crime in another country and seek compensation from a European Crime Fund.
On the Swedish home front, EU police cooperation has also led to new working methods. Swedish and Danish police can now patrol together, can call each other’s radio cars and have the right to continue a police hunt in each other’s countries and arrest people on each other’s territory. Swedish and Finnish police are also cooperating at the border in Haparanda / Tornio, so far only with planned efforts (a demonstration at the border) but an agreement from May 2018 will make it possible to also urgently pull out together, as well as to patrol together.
High-level consumer protection has been an EU goal since the Maastricht Treaty in 1993. A department at the European Commission works with consumer issues such as food safety, product rules against dangerous goods, blacklisting of dangerous airlines, legislation against unfair marketing or assistance to consumers who buy a time share. apartment in another country or shop online.
The EU has created networks between the authorities of the Member States so that a dangerous product can be quickly withdrawn throughout the EU. Consumers can get free help in their own language with complaining about a product or service purchased in another country (in Sweden at Konsument Europa).