The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion to authorities in Romania and Bulgaria on Thursday, urging the two states to fully implement the EU legislation regarding the temporary blocking (freezing) and confiscation of tools and products of criminal acts committed in the EU, as per Directive 2014/42/EU.
The Directive introduces minimal norms for asset freezing in order for those goods to possibly be seized at a later date, as well as norms for seizing assets in criminal cases. Through the EU’s regulations, national authorities can more easily seize and recover products and tools resulted from committing criminal acts within the EU.
According to the legislation, “products” include any economic advantages obtained directly or indirectly from committing an illegality, while the “tools” are any of the goods used or meant to be used to facilitate the illegal act.
Freezing and seizing the goods obtained from an illegal action deprives the offenders from the illegally-obtained assets.
This is an essential way of fighting organised crime and to prevent the laundering and reinvestment of the products of crimes through legal or illegal commercial activities.
Member states had to transpose the directive into their national legislation by October 4, 2015.
However, Romania and Bulgaria did not communicate any such transposing measure to the Commission, which is why the EC decided to send a reasoned opinion to the two countries’ national authorities. Bulgaria and Romania have two months to respond, otherwise the EC can notify the EU Court of Justice on the matter.