Assessing Measures Against Organised Crime

How effective are criminal laws, measures, and investigative techniques targeting organised crime?

Organised crime poses a threat to the security and freedom of European citizens and impacts the lives of people worldwide. Recognising the severity of the problem and the need for coordinated action, the EU has initiated a number of measures to encourage closer cooperation between Members States and the adoption of common legal, judicial and investigative frameworks to address organised crime.


This study, for the European Commission DG Home, assessed the impact of the Council Framework Decision (2008/841/JHA) and other relevant EU and national legislation and provided a comparative analysis of investigative tools and other measures used at the national and the EU level to tackle organised crime.

RAND Europe worked in partnership with Professor Michael Levi, the University of Trento (Faculty of Law and eCrime) and the Center for the Study of Democracy, Bulgaria.

The study examined the extent to which, how and why, the Framework Decision has been transposed by Member States and aimed to identify the added value of the Framework Directive. It considered national legal tools used in the fight against organised crime and sought to identify good practices in the use of EU and national legal and investigative tools, as well as limits in their application. It also looked at the role and added value of national specialised law enforcement agencies and international law enforcement agencies (such as Europol) in implementing criminal law and investigative tools to tackle organised crime.


  • Almost all Member States have transposed the key elements of the Framework Decision and have introduced a self-standing offence of participation in a criminal organisation and/or conspiracy to commit offences.
  • Even though the Framework Decision has largely been transposed there are a large number of measures and processes used in the fight against organised crime, within Member States, which are independent of the Framework Decision. The study described range preventative measures against organised crime implemented by businesses, citizens and public authorities.
  • Only Denmark and Sweden have not transposed the Decision, but these Member States have alternative legal instruments to tackle criminal organisations and have national specialist agencies for the fight against organised crime.
  • Due to the complex nature of organised crime cases, special investigative tools - such as covert surveillance, informants, and interception of communications - are used as part of a multifaceted approach to gathering evidence.
  • The regulatory landscape for the use of special investigative tools and techniques includes Member States’ legal frameworks, plus a large number of regional and national bilateral agreements and arrangements.
  • The majority of Member States were reported to have more than one specialist agency tasked with fighting organised crime in their country. There was a great deal of variability in the structure, remit and approach taken by national specialist agencies, as well as how they are controlled and held accountable.


The final report is currently available from the EU Bookshop:

Study on paving the way for future policy initiatives in the field of fight against organised crime: the effectiveness of specific criminal law measures targeting organised crime

Project Team

Jennifer Rubin
Emma Disley
Marina Tzvetkova
Mafalda Pardal