Staying ahead of the game to protect EU citizens

Article written by MEUSAC and published in timesofmalta.com.mt – 10.09.19

The EU has been investing and continues to strengthen its resources to protect European citizens from crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking and hacking, to mention but a few. MEUSAC serves as a platform in Malta to inform citizens on the EU’s sterling work.

Thanks to the EU, police and customs’ officers in different EU Member states exchange extremely useful information leading to European Member states working hand in hand to combat crime both on a national level and cross-border.

There are ample stories of ordinary heroes who, thanks to the EU’s support, keep our borders safe by assist in tackling terrorists and foil other crimes conducted by counterfeiters, hackers, and human trafficking rings. The EU also protects from radicalisation. Radicalisation and extreme views have always existed, however new technologies have made it more of an insidious threat.

The EU protects through rescue operations it conducts in all Member states and through the disaster preventions it issues from time to time for national authorities to refer to in case of a national or European disaster, or operations that may occur at sea when sailors face difficulty and are tracked through European satellites. By means of its Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Centre, the European Commission supports Member states through the sharing of knowledge of lessons learnt from previous disasters. Statistics show that between 1980 and 2016, damage cost EU Member states more than €410 billion, not including losses related to cultural heritage or ecosystems. There are also funding programmes that support national authorities. A call that had been issued in 2018 for the prevention and preparedness projects in the field of civil protection and marine pollution under the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), is one example. At the time, MEUSAC has supported the Emergency Response and Rescue Corps (ERRC) in Malta in successfully tapping into the funding opportunity and garnering the funds.

Another example is the issue of counterfeit notes. Businessmen and individuals can rest assured that security features are added to euro currency notes to stay ahead of the game. This happens through cooperation between Member states to prevent millions of fake notes slipping into the market. Proof of this is statistics issued by the European Central Bank (ECB) that show that some 262,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in the second half of 2018, a decrease of 13  per cent when compared to the first half of 2018 and 27.8 per cent less than in the second half of 2017. The likelihood of receiving a counterfeit is very small indeed as the number of counterfeits remains very low compared with the number of genuine banknotes in circulation.

Coordinated European efforts have also led to human trafficking gang busts. To cite an example, Europol and Eurojust connected national authorities of Bulgaria and Spain as they needed to act quickly after a violent human trafficking ring was uncovered. Young women, who were taken from their homes in Bulgaria, were forced into prostitution in Spain. In a matter of one week, some 34 gang members were placed under arrest and 13 young women freed. Both Europe-wide agencies worked behind the scenes in this successful operation to support the authorities of both Member states in collecting evidence and all relevant data, leading to the arrests of the traffickers.

Also, the EU is sending a strong warning to criminals who try to hijack computers in exchange for money, a term called ‘ransomware’. However, it is no secret that such operations can prove to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Again, the EU has time and time again strengthened its resources to close in on criminal gangs.

But protection is not just about securing our borders or our safety from crimes such as the those mentioned above. It’s also about protecting citizens from environmental-related dangers, including but not just limited to car emissions and air pollution through climate action.

MEUSAC is a Government agency that deals with all things EU. From supporting you in the EU funding application process, to involving you in the EU decision-making process, and providing you with relevant information on the EU and your rights as a citizen, we are here to help and are as far as a phone call or email. All our services are free of charge.

MEUSAC has supported umpteenth organisations to tap into and benefit from EU funds over the years, including the Malta Police Force and Malta Customs in a bid to up their resources in their fight against crime.

Therefore, if you want to learn more about the EU’s work, or if you are a Government entity, NGO or an organisation interested in tapping into EU funding opportunities such as the Hercule III programme, the Rights Equality and Citizenship programme (REC), Internal Security Fund (ISF) Police, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), Horizon 2020 R&I or LIFE programme, call us on 2200 3300 or send an e-mail to info.meusac@gov.mt to set up an appointment.

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