By Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats
With the world globalising, and frontiers open inside Europe, criminals are flourishing internationally
Smuggling of humans and taxable goods, piracy, counterfeiting of everything including medicines, financial fraud, internet crime, corruption, and more. All are now easy for criminals.
Police forces are restricted to their own borders. None can fight crime across borders. Interpol can not do it, being an information-exchange agency without powers to chase and arrest criminals. Only the criminal gangs - Chinese, Russian, Nigerian, Italian, Albanian, Columbian, and more - can operate across borders without restriction.
Every single industry suffers but all keep their losses secret, because precious brand-names may be damaged.
The European Parliament has created a special committee to investigate how crime hits Europe and what we should do about it. I lead for the Liberals on the committee.
The committee, now holding hearings and collecting facts, will recommend next year, among a whole raft of vital changes in EU laws and attitudes, to create a crossborder police force for Europe, like an FBI.
Critics will say "Can't we create a European FBI slowly, when public opinion is ready for it ?" No, because crossborder crime is already too great and increasing every year.
Add up all the damage. Perhaps twenty million legitimate are jobs lost, and hundreds of billions of tax revenues lost by national governments. Getting these back from the gangs could help us out of recession.
"Germans in uniforms arresting us ? We fought WW2 to prevent that" sceptics will scream. That was seventy years ago and that is the British dilemma. Either live in the past, be overtaken and dismantled by new forces, or face up to new threats.
Right-wing Tory MPs want to cut off cooperation with other EU member states to fight crime. How unhelpful to Britain can they be ?
Lib Dems should vigorously support an international fight against international crime. The British public supports the idea (try it out in your constituency), indeed it thinks it is already being done. Sadly it isn't. My committee has a major responsibility when we report next summer. We must show national leaders what joint measures are needed and nationalistic delays are foolish and damaging.