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Bill Newton Dunn MEP writes: European Cooperation is indispensable in the fight against organised crime

June 14, 2013 3:54 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

European arrest warrantsOn Tuesday the European Parliament voted through an interim report calling for greater European cooperation to tackle organised crime, corruption and money laundering in the EU.

Hundreds of billions of pounds worth of taxes are lost every year across Europe due to organised crime, as well as millions of legitimate jobs which have been taken from hard-working citizens. Fraud, counterfeiting, smuggling and cyber-crime all have a drastic impact on the economy and are undermining efforts to promote jobs and growth. Britain is particularly affected, with half of Europol's investigations into organised crime having links to the UK.

Organised criminals conduct complex operations across borders and make use of the internet to commit crimes which individual law enforcement bodies find it very hard to detect. Shockingly, a maximum of 5% of all containers entering Europe by road, rail, sea or air are ever checked at the borders. This makes it remarkably easy for criminals to smuggle in whatever they choose. The result is that jobs and taxes are lost while organised criminals are lining their pockets at a time of economic crisis.

We need political will from the 27 national governments to share their sovereignty and resources to tackle this problem together and successfully. The fight against organised crime is an area where European cooperation is not just useful, it is indispensable.

Remarkably though, Conservative MEPs voted against many parts of the report and chose to side instead with UKIP in opposing European cooperation against organised crime. The Tories were once known as the party of law and order, but they are now allowing their euroscepticism and fear of UKIP to get in the way of effective policing.

On Wednesday this week the campaigning group Justice Across Borders held a demo outside the British Parliament warning that at least 500 children a year would be at risk of become victims of human-trafficking if the Tories got their way in opting out of crucial European cross-border policing measures. Efforts to tackle online pedophilia, violent criminal gangs and credit card fraud would also be seriously undermined, as senior police chiefs have repeatedly made clear.

As Lib Dems, we need to make sure that Britain stays a part of crucial European cooperation in the fight against organised crime. The Tories are not just betraying their own traditional values. They are betraying the security and prosperity of British citizens.