In 2018 the Member States of the European Union joined forces with Europol and its institutional partners to fight organised crime groups active in the ten priority crime areas which fall under the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats (EMPACT). The outcomes of the Joint Action Days exemplify the tremendous impact that they had on some of the EU’s most threatening organised crime groups.
2018 EMPACT results:
- 1 026 investigations initiated;
- Over €1.4 million in cash seized
- 1 137 suspects arrested;
- 337 victims of human trafficking identified (including 52 minors);
- 730 kg of heroin seized
- 207 firearms seized.
Over the course of 2018, eight cross-border law enforcement operations targeted serious international and organised crime in the EMPACT priority crime areas of:
- drug trafficking;
- facilitation of illegal immigration;
- organised property crime;
- trafficking in human beings;
- excise and MTIC fraud;
- illicit firearms trafficking;
- environmental crime;
- criminal finances and money laundering;
- document fraud.
Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle: “I am very pleased to see this year’s results of the Joint Action Days 2018. They are more than just numbers and figures, as they clearly show how successful strategically planned international cooperation with strong partners can be. The EMPACT priority crime areas are the major crime threats facing the EU and the Joint Action Days involve complex international investigations. Every day we at Europol strive to provide analytical and operational support to the Member States in combating his kind of international and organised crime.”
The European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos: “Security threats today are rapidly evolving and multiplying. Whether it is fighting cyber or organised crime, drugs or firearms trafficking, or terrorism, the only way we can do this effectively is through joint efforts. This is precisely what the intensified cooperation between Member States and Europol has demonstrated over the past year. Europol has been an essential partner in targeted and joint actions on the ground, delivering a Europe that effectively protects its citizens.”
European Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King: “The most dangerous security threats we face today are cross-border in nature – criminals and terrorists are no respecters of national boundaries. That’s why we need strong and committed cooperation in the EU between all actors, as the excellent results of the EMPACT Joint Action Days show. Europol is a vital part of this cooperation, and I look forward to a similarly successful 2019.”
Herbert Kickl, Austria's Minister of the Interior on behalf of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018: “This is another example of the outstanding results EU law enforcement can achieve together with Europol and international partners. These operations are also the final highlight of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the EU, whose motto “a Europe that protects” has been turned into reality.“
As the European law enforcement platform for information exchange, Europol supported the Joint Action Days with operational coordination, secure information exchange, cross-checking of data and operational analysis, as well as on-the-spot support. The EMPACT Joint Action Days 2018 are the fifth in a series of Joint Action Days as part of the EU Policy Cycle and the first under the new 2018 – 2021 EU Policy Cycle. The policy cycle is a methodology adopted in 2010 by the EU to address the most important criminal threats affecting the EU. Each cycle lasts four years and optimises coordination and cooperation on chosen crime priorities.
The EMPACT Joint Action Days 2018 follow the successful operations 2017 Dragon; 2016 Ciconia Alba; 2015 Blue Amber; and 2014 Archimedes. The Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) of the Council of the EU has provided strategic guidance for the planning of the Joint Action Days and is monitoring their implementation. For the current EU Policy Cycle 2018-2021, Europol will use the EMPACT brand name to promote the Joint Action Days in the fight against international crime.