Everyone benefits from the beauty of borderless travel in Europe, even criminals. It’s something we have to expect and protect ourselves against. If Europe doesn’t have the tools it needs, the criminals will win.
In this article I will explain:
- How the worst criminals exploit us and our freedoms.
- How Europe can face this problem, if it wants to.
- How critics will try to stop this solution
I – The problem
I’ve written before about sexual crimes involving children. It’s one of the more shocking crimes in our world. Faced with any report of child sex abuse, most people would want to lock the offender up for good. In my article I exposed the reality of the situation in Europe. If a registered sex offender travels to Malta, we have no way of telling this person’s history.
This person could work in schools because we wouldn’t know this person’s past.
Shocking, isn’t it?
The same applies to any major crime, like terrorism, because criminals can cross borders with ease, while crime fighters cannot. We still have jurisdictional responsibilities which stop at the old internal borders.
As a result the bad guys can get away with things.
Can’t we do something about this?
II – Crime fighting
Crime fighting need to cross borders the same way criminals do.
I don’t mean all crime fighters should. Anyone investigating petty burglary won’t need to cross borders.
But we do need a police force that has the authority to hunt criminals around our continent.
The European Union has a policing agency called Europol. It doesn’t have the authority I speak of, but it could if the individual countries wanted it to. What I would like to see is the following:
- Europol should be responsible for trans-national crime databases. These databases would allow easy data sharing of major crimes like child sex abuse or terrorism. Individual countries should be able to access this data through a secured interface. With this, no one will hide from a criminal record anymore.
- The European Union should decide which types of crimes Europol can investigate. My headline items would be child sex abuse, terrorism, organised crime and any crime that crosses internal borders. Once Europol starts investigating these, it will have centralised control over pan-European investigations.
- Each EU country will have a dedicated Europol office. Language reasons alone means you must have investigators from each country. I also think it doesn’t make sense to lose the current expertise each country has. Europol will pool these resources together to join the dots.
- All the EU countries must also agree to give up authority to investigate these crimes. We can’t let criminals get away with things because we’d be arguing with each other.
This solution sounds simple, on paper.
But is it practical?
III – Federalism
It is, up to a point.
The real problem is how people will approach this solution. Many people don’t like the idea of a federal Europe and will immediately criticise this plan because of that. They will ignore the benefits because they hate federalism.
I disagree with this approach. Federalism works some of the time, and only for certain topics.
My rule of thumb is: If Europe can do a better job on its own than the individual countries can do on their own, then a federal approach is the right way to do it. If not, then federalism isn’t the answer.
The recent argument that Europe should harmonise taxes is one such case. There is no economic or logical advantage to this so taxation should remain decentralised. The USA works like this and it works for them too.
Federalism works well when you have larger projects which need more resources than one single country has. The European space programmes come to mind. No single country could have built those huge programmes but Europe, acting as a single entity, could.
If we’re not careful the Catalonia independence issue may be a federal issue too.
In this case, Europe should take the lead in fighting certain types of crime. By having a centralised crime fighting organisation, Europe can do more than individual countries can.
Written by: Antoine P Borg
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