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Combating cross-border vehicle crime

Combating cross-border vehicle crime

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating cross-border vehicle crime

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Internal market > Motor vehicles > Interactions between the automobile industry and specific policies

Combating cross-border vehicle crime

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision (2004/919/EC) of 22 December 2004 on tackling vehicle crime with cross-border implications.

Summary

More than 1.2 million motor vehicles are stolen each year in the EU. A large proportion of these thefts (30 %-40 %) are linked to organised crime, with vehicles being converted and exported to other States within and outside the European Union. Attainment of the objective laid down in Article 29 of the EU Treaty, viz. to provide citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice, is hampered by this situation. Tackling vehicle crime is a matter for the law enforcement agencies of the Member States. However, the EU wishes to address the cross-border aspects of this type of crime. The Council has, therefore, decided to improve cooperation within the EU with the aim of preventing and combating cross-border vehicle crime.

This Decision requires Member States to enhance mutual cooperation between national competent authorities, to facilitate procedures for a quick repatriation of vehicles seized by the national competent authorities, to designate a contact point for tackling cross-border vehicle crime and, whenever a vehicle is reported stolen, to enter it in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and, where possible, in Interpol’s stolen motor vehicle database.

Cooperation

The Council requires Member States to take the necessary steps to enhance cooperation:

  • between national competent authorities in order to combat cross-border vehicle crime;
  • between competent authorities and representatives of the private sector (such as holders of private registers of missing vehicles, insurers and the car trade) with a view to coordinating information and action in this field.

The Council also asks Member States to pay specific attention to export control and to streamline the quick repatriation of recovered stolen vehicles.

Exchange of information

Cooperation within the EU in this area involves the exchange of a great deal of information. By 30 March 2005, Member States must designate, within their law enforcement authorities, contact points for exchanging information on tackling vehicle crime.

The Council also recommends regularly issuing alerts for stolen vehicles and registration certificates in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and, where possible, in Interpol’s stolen motor vehicle database.

Lastly, the law enforcement authorities are asked to keep Europol informed of vehicle crime perpetrators.

Vehicle registration certificates

The Council asks Member States to prevent abuse and theft of vehicle registration certificates. The law enforcement authorities must, therefore, inform the national vehicle registration authorities if a vehicle which is in the process of being registered is known to have been stolen. If a vehicle is seriously damaged (total loss), the registration certificate must be recovered. The Council also recommends checks to verify the registration certificate if there is doubt over the vehicle’s identity.

Furthermore, the Council recommends that the relevant law enforcement authorities have specialist training in the field of vehicle crime prevention and detection.

Lastly, the Council pays particular attention to the link between vehicle crime and other forms of organised crime, such as trafficking in drugs, firearms and human beings.

Key terms used in the act
  • Vehicle: any motor vehicle, trailer or caravan as defined in the provisions relating to the Schengen Information System (SIS).
  • National competent authorities: any national authorities designated by the Member States for the purposes of this Decision; they may include, as appropriate, police, customs, border guards and judicial authorities.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Decision 2004/919/EC [adoption: consultation CNS/2004/0803] 30.12.2004 OJ L 389 of 30.12.2004

Diplomatic and consular protection

Diplomatic and consular protection

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Diplomatic and consular protection

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Diplomatic and consular protection

Document or Iniciative

Decision of the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 19 December 1995 regarding protection for citizens of the European Union by diplomatic and consular representations.

Summary

Every citizen of the European Union located in the territory of a third country is entitled to consular and diplomatic protection in line with Article 20 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (the EC Treaty). The preamble to Decision 95/553/EC of 19 December 1995 recalls that the decision was adopted with a view to implementing the obligation set out in Article 20 of the EC Treaty (ex Article 8c).

The conditions for entitlement to diplomatic and consular protection are as follows:

  • the absence in the third country in which the citizen requesting protection is located of an accessible permanent representation (embassy, general consulate or consulate) of the citizen’s own Member State;
  • the absence of an accessible Honorary Consul competent for such matters of his or her own Member State or another State representing it on a permanent basis;
  • production by the citizen requesting protection of proof of his or her nationality (passport, identity card or other document) for the diplomatic or consular representation approached.

The diplomatic or consular representation giving protection must treat the person seeking help as if he or she were a national of the Member State which it represents.

Assistance in the event of difficulties: mandatory protection

The protection must cover:

  • assistance in the event of death;
  • assistance in the event of serious accident or serious illness;
  • assistance in the event of arrest or detention;
  • assistance to victims of violent crime;
  • the relief and repatriation of distressed citizens of the Union.

This list is not exhaustive as EU citizens may find themselves in difficulties in any number of situations in countries that are not members of the EU. In so far as it is within their powers, Member States’ diplomatic representations or consular agents may therefore assist citizens in other cases if they are requested to do so.

Authorised protection: financial assistance

Other than in cases of extreme urgency, no financial advance or assistance may be given or expenditure incurred on behalf of a citizen of the Union without the permission of the competent authorities of the Member State of which that citizen is a national, such permission being given either by the Foreign Ministry or by the nearest diplomatic mission.

Unless the authorities of the Member State of the applicant’s nationality expressly waive this requirement, the applicant undertakes to repay the full value of any financial advance or help and expenditure incurred plus, where applicable, a consular fee notified by the competent authorities. This requirement may be waived by the authorities of the applicant’s Member State.

The undertaking to repay takes the form of a document requiring the distressed national to repay to the Government of the Member State of which he is a national any costs incurred on his behalf or money paid to him.

The Government of the Member State of which the applicant is a national must reimburse all costs, on request, to the Government of the assisting Member State.

The Decision, published in 1995 in the Official Journal, entered into force on 3 May 2002 after a long process of ratification by the 15 Member States. It is to be reviewed five years after its entry into force, i.e. in 2007.

Guaranteeing protection for Community citizens

The protection of EU citizens by the embassies and consulates of the Member States has its basis in Article 20 of the EC Treaty. It is a fundamental right for all EU citizens in countries outside the Union where their own country has no representation (embassy or consulate).

Under public international law, an embassy or consulate of a State protects the citizens of that State. The added value of Article 20 of the EC Treaty compared to public international law is that, as a Union citizen, a citizen of any Member State may enjoy the diplomatic and consular protection of any other EU Member State as provided for under Article 20.

In the event of infringement of Community law by a Member State, citizens may register a complaint with the Secretariat General of the European Commission.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 95/553/EC 03.05.2002 OJ L 314 of 28.12.1995

Related Acts

European Commission Green Paper of 28 November 2006 on diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries [COM(2006) 712 final – Official Journal C 30 of 10.2.2007].

In 2006 the European Commission launched public consultations by publishing a Green Paper on diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries [PDF ]. The closing date for contributions is 31 March 2007. Replies should be sent to the e-mail address indicated in the final paragraph of the Green Paper.