It's estimated that organised crime costs the EU economy billions of euros annually. But despite efforts by the courts and the police, less than 1% of the proceeds of human trafficking, counterfeiting and money laundering are ever recovered. With criminal gangs adopting increasingly sophisticated methods and Europe's open borders allowing for the easy movement of goods and people, the EP has set up a special committee to try and tackle a problem that blights the lives of many. The Organised Crime Committee, CRIM, held a public hearing with law enforcement experts and EU authorities. Its chair, Sonia Alfano, has more motivation than most, as her father was killed by the mafia in 1993. The objective is to present to the European institutions a plan against organised crime in a single anti-mafia document. We need to fight the organised crime systems in Italy and in the same way in England, Holland, Spain, Germany and in other countries. OLAF, the Commission's anti-fraud office, told the committee that counterfeiting is one of the main problems they encounter. Counterfeit cigarette trafficking represents €10 billion for the EU alone. This is a big issue. OLAF is just one of the agencies fighting organised crime, including Europol, Interpol and environmental crime authorities. With such a sophisticated and diverse opponent, some MEPs felt that the agencies should be working more closely. There isn't so much inter-relationship between the agencies yet and that is one thing which this committee could encourage at the very least. If that happened and it was better joined up then the impact on major criminals would be much better. CRIM's remit lasts until May 2013 but there is already talk of this being extended.
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