Attempts among European Union (EU) member states to formulate a common approach to such matters as transnational crime cannot disguise the wide range of problems and policy responses across the continent. Although the EU might enhance the prospect of cohesive European policy on trade, security, and other interregional concerns, the existence of a European perspective on just about anything is, for the most part, an illusion. Yet for the purpose of comparison with the Western Hemisphere it is possible to identify a particularly European outlook on transnational crime which, although perhaps clearly perceptible only in contrast to U.S. attitudes, is no less powerful for that.
Analysis of a European approach to transnational organized crime can provide a comparative antidote to examination of the Western Hemispheric approach. Europe and the Western Hemisphere share many of the same problems and responses. In the field of drugs, nearly all the countries of both regions are signatories to the UN conventions that are part of the foundation of the international drug control regime. Yet U.S. dominance of Western Hemispheric law enforcement cooperation inevitably defines the context in which transnational crime is discussed in both North and South America. One consequence of this has been that critical analyses of U.S. foreign policy on transnational law enforcement have sometimes conflated questions about the propriety of U.S. unilateralism in this sphere and the appropriateness of international law enforcement cooperation in general. In the case of Europe, multilateralism in law enforcement cooperation is not a reaction to the dominance of a single actor, but rather a consequence of the demands of integration.
Transnational crime is interpreted here as any illicit activity or activity conducted by illicit means that involves the penetration of national borders. In