Corruption plays a key role in the way organised crime groups operate. Corruption facilitates the infiltration of organised crime networks in all sectors of our societies, including politics and law enforcement. It serves them to influence decision-making processes in their favour. Corruption also helps criminals to have access to privilege information about looming law enforcement actions and operations.
The link between corruption and organised crime is increasingly coming into focus, as highlighted in Europol’s recent threat assessment of serious and organised crime in the EU. The assessment reveals that criminal networks in Europe easily adapt their criminal operations to the crime environment in addition to progressively using corruption and abusing legal business structures to pursue their criminal activities:
- Two thirds of criminals use corruption on a regular basis.
- More than 80% of the criminal networks use legal business structures.
Therefore, fighting corruption is also a priority when combating organised crime and maintaining a level of security across the EU.
On 14 April 2021, the European Commission adopted the EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime for the period 2021-2025. The Strategy aims to tackle the organisation and business model of criminal networks, target actions on the main criminal markets and address corruption and the financial aspects of organised crime.
On 12 May 2021, the Council adopted Council Conclusions regarding EU’s priorities for the fight against serious and organised crime for EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats) for the period 2022-2025, which highlightedthe rising use of corruption by high-risk long lasting criminal networks undermining the rule of law.