Transnational Organised Crime: Perspectives on Global Security

By Adam Edwards; Peter Gill | Go to book overview

8

Bad boys in the Baltics1

Paddy Rawlinson


Introduction

The term 'transnational organised crime' (TOC) evokes images of a world without frontiers assaulted by the trans-border activities of criminal groups indigenous to states in transition or Third World countries. It is an attack on civilised states by the 'forces of incivility', the price we must pay for the benefits globalisation has bequeathed (or will bequeath) on those invited to participate in the free market and the development of democracy. The imminent enlargement of the European Union, to include ten former communist states in Eastern and Central Europe, brings these security fears into focus; that is, a vulnerability to the expanding presence of organised crime, particularly from Russia and other CIS countries. Full membership of the EU will entail the automatic ratification of the Schengen acquis, which guarantees the free movement of persons and goods within the EU, thereby providing plentiful opportunities for criminal networks to expand their business activities westwards.

The Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - lie at the Eastern frontier of this expansion and will effectively become crime control sentinels for the new Europe. Their ability to fulfil the task of stemming the flow of TOC from Russia and beyond makes them strategically vital for maintaining the Treaty of Amsterdam's stated objective to create an 'area of freedom, security and justice' within the EU. This threat from TOC from the East has prompted the initiation of objectives and policies by Brussels aimed at helping accession states fulfil their role in reducing this risk. These include the Pre-Accession Pact on Organised Crime and other programmes, not all confined to the EU, such as the Task Force on Organised Crime in the Baltic Sea Region and the Northern Dimension Action Plan 2000-2003 (CEU, 2000) which collectively make provisions for inter alia mutual judicial assistance, joint police operations, greater law enforcement and judicial co-operation in the fight against organised crime, money laundering, terrorism and transnational offences currently outside the EU, including Russia and its European exclave, the Kaliningrad oblast.

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