EMPACT

EMPACT: European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats

The EU policy cycle EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats) is a security initiative driven by EU Member States to identify, prioritise and address threats posed by organised and serious international crime. EMPACT brings together a broad range of multidisciplinary professionals from Mem¬ber States and third countries to take concrete actions against criminal networks. Participants include law enforcement authorities, the judiciary, EU agencies, customs and tax offices and private partners. With EMPACT, every year over 200 operational actions are carried out in targeted key crime areas.

EMPACT features

By building on knowledge and expertise from a diverse range of partners, various insights are taken on board, facilitating a multifaceted approach. For instance, in operations against human trafficking, the expertise of specialist non-governmental organisations can play an important role. Depending on assessments, EMPACT can have a preventive or repressive character.

By improving cross-border cooperation, EMPACT helps build trust between partners as they gain familiarity with each other and their specific fields of expertise. This leads to continuity in crime fighting between participants and between countries. Due to its long-term approach, EMPACT provides insights into patterns in certain crime areas. It also furthers knowledge on the persistence and backgrounds of certain criminal phenomena, feeding into the intelligence-led principle of the platform.

Webinar ‘Prosecuting with EMPACT’

Hosted by Eurojust on 8 September 2021, 10-12:00 CEST


The agenda covers several presentations on the EMPACT programme and its relevance to prosecutors. This includes:

  • Eurojust experiences with EMPACT cases
  • Input from Europol – how can prosecutors best make use of EMPACT
  • EMPACT in the future – plans of the European Commission

Webinar agenda Draft

Time Item Speaker
10:00-10:05 Welcome, introduction Tim Heller, Corporate Communications Unit, Eurojust
10:05-10:25 The importance of EMPACT in the security justice chain Boštjan Škrlec, Vice-President of Eurojust, National Member for Slovenia at Eurojust
10:25-10:45 An EMPACT case at Eurojust (EncroChat) Solveig Wollstad, National Member for Sweden at Eurojust
10:45-10:55 Break  
10:55-11:15 EMPACT – how can prosecutors access opportunities Zuzana Líšková - Head of Team EMPACT Support, Europol
11:15-11:35 EMPACT of the future - the flagship EU instrument for cooperation to fight organised and serious international crime Antoine Billard, Policy Officer, Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
11:35-11:55 Share your views Audience
11:55-12:00 Conclusions Boštjan Škrlec

We also welcome your views on EMPACT – please share your experiences and wishes.

Register Entry code: EMPACT2021

You will receive the connection details by email.

Data protection notice

Policy cycle and priorities

EMPACT operates in four-year cycles. Every four years, Europol produces the European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (EU SOCTA), based on input provided by Member States and other stakeholders, including Eurojust. The EU SOCTA iden­tifies the major criminal threats affecting the Europe­an Union and sets out potential crime priorities.

The EU SOCTA is then used by the European Commission and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union to advise Justice and Home Affairs ministers so they adopt the EU crime priorities being fought by EMPACT over the following four years. A multi-annual strategic plan and corresponding goals are drawn up based on these key priorities to form the basis of Operational Action Plans (OAPs).

For each OAP, so-called drivers and co-drivers are appointed who oversee the planning with assistance from national EMPACT coordinators (NECs). Concrete actions are organised for the particular targeted crime areas, leading to joint operational actions days or weeks. The process is constantly monitored and fully evaluated at the end of each cycle.

Funding is available to assist in drawing up Operational Action Plans and to support the preparations for setting up strategic coordination structures.

Within the OAPs, the EU Member States are the central actors, assisted by Eurojust and Europol through operational, logistical and financial support (see also tab Judicial dimension). The NECs align their Member State’s involvement and contributions to all OAPs. They also keep their national authorities regularly informed and ensure the implementation of decisions and recommendations by the Council’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI). Furthermore, NECs coordinate the allocation of required human and financial resources for OAPs.

EMPACT key stages

The key stages of EMPACT:

  1. Analysis of current and future threats (EU SOCTA)
  2. Strategic planning based on SOCTA findings and priorities identified
  3. Operational actions based on goals identified in strategic plans
  4. Evaluation of actions undertaken

Current EMPACT cycle (January 2018 - December 2021)

For each four-year cycle, priority crime areas are determined by the Council. This is based on the EU SOCTA. The following crime areas were identified as key priorities for the 2018-2021 cycle:

  • Cybercrime
  • Drug trafficking
  • Facilitating illegal immigration
  • Organised property crime
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Excise and MTIC fraud
  • Illicit firearms trafficking
  • Environmental crime
  • Criminal finances and money laundering
  • Document fraud
EMPACT crime type priorities

Next EMPACT cycle (January 2022 - December 2025)

For the 2022-2025 cycle, the following key areas were identified for priority action:

  • High-risk criminal networks
  • Cyberattacks
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Migrant smuggling
  • Drug trafficking
  • Fraud, economic and financial crimes
  • Organised property crime
  • Environmental crime
  • Firearms trafficking

In addition to these priorities, the production and provision of fraudulent and false documents will be addressed as a common horizontal strategic goal, since it is a key enabler for many crimes.

Planning for the 2022-2025 cycle is underway in the Council, which adopted Conclusions on the permanent continuation of the EU Policy Cycle for organised and serious international crime: EMPACT 2022+. Meanwhile, the European Commission has published plans to make EMPACT the EU flagship instrument to fight organised and serious international crime.

Judicial dimension

Intelligence- and analysis-led, EMPACT widens the scope for prosecutors and investigative judges, enabling an integrated and long-term approach to tackle major crimes in the identified key areas and increased learning experiences for all participants. The involvement of prosecutors at the early stages of investigations and actions is especially valuable to ensure these interventions lead to justice being done.

As a well-proven, ready-made solution, EMPACT allows participants to make optimal use of exist­ing capacities, resources and best practice during time-sensitive cases. EMPACT targets the most serious crimes threatening European citizens: complex, high-impact, cross-border criminal activi­ties. Judicial involvement in these cases is essential to ensure that criminals are not just found and arrested, but that they are brought to justice in the courts. Eurojust is well equipped to assist prosecutors in co­ordinating the judicial follow-up for these cases – preferably from the early stages of the investigations.

Eurojust provides access to its full range of tools, including coordination meetings, coordination centres and funding for joint investigation teams (JITs). With its experi­ence and expertise in judicial cooperation, Eurojust offers quick and efficient solutions to tackle legal issues in cross-border cases, including conflicts of jurisdiction, extradition, admissibility of evidence and the freezing and recovery of assets.

Eurojust takes the lead in one Operational Action on judicial cooperation and coordi­nation under one or more crime priorities.

Results

EMPACT is a proven cooperation model that delivers concrete and lasting results. In 2019, it led to

  • 8 000 arrests,
  • more than 1 400 victims of trafficking in human beings and child sexual abuse safeguarded,
  • EUR 400 million in fraud affecting the interests of the EU prevented,
  • 6 000 weapons seized,
  • EUR 77 million worth of criminal assets frozen and seized.

Some of Eurojust’s key cases have been supported by EMPACT. A prime example is the EncroChat case, the major operation to block encrypted communications of criminal networks. By lawfully intercepting, sharing and analysing millions of encrypted messages exchanged via the platform, unprecedented volumes of new evidence of acts of organised crime could be secured. The intensive judicial cooperation through Eurojust made it possible to progressively extend the information sharing towards other countries concerned by the criminal activities discovered through EncroChat. The case has grown to include 13 countries, triggering a multitude of new investigations at national level and with a cross-border dimension.

Another successful example is Operation Brooks, which resulted in the recovery of rare historical books, worth an estimated EUR 2 million, including first editions of works by Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, which were stolen from a postal warehouse in London in 2017 by a Romanian Mobile Organised Crime Group (MOCG). The judicial cooperation between Romania, Italy and the United Kingdom, coordinated through Eurojust, led to the arrest and subsequent sentencing of 12 members of the MOCG.

EMPACT results 2020

Further information

Eurojust EMPACT leaflet

Eurojust EMPACT leaflet

View leaflet

Eurojust provides a leaflet on EMPACT and its key advantages in the fight against serious and organised cross-border crime.

The Funding schemes flyer of Eurojust and Europol describes the funding options offered by the two agencies for actions by law enforcement and judiciary, including EMPACT.

The results achieved through EMPACT are compiled in a series of factsheets (1 general, 13 on the specific priorities). They illustrate, for instance, the number of investigations, joint action days, arrests and seizures, as well as operational highlights for the different crime priority areas. The factsheets are published annually.

More information on EMPACT from a law enforcement perspective can be found on the Europol website, with additional online resources provided by the European Commission and the Council.