From illegal motorbike clubs to the exploitation of migrant workers; criminals often deliberately seek out borders, as that’s precisely where governments are less powerful. Dutch municipalities can now take a step in international administrative cooperation against organised crime, at the local level. With a small change, certain population register data can be shared with other EU governments. Perhaps just that piece of the puzzle that makes an administrative intervention possible.
The latest EURIEC manual shows how Dutch municipalities can share population register data with other authorities within the EU. “The great thing is that municipalities can arrange this themselves, at the local level,” says Vera Huijgens, public affairs officer at EURIEC. “This is one of the few things you can do as a municipality to make steps in the international administrative approach to organised crime. Beyond this, you are dependent on national legislation.”
The new manual is a typical example of EURIEC’s work—seeing through case studies if information can be exchanged internationally as part of the administrative approach. “Through our research into legal possibilities for sharing population register data internationally, we found out that German municipalities can share this data internationally, but Dutch municipalities cannot yet,” says Annet Klinkers, EURIEC Account Manager. “We also found out how Dutch municipalities can amend the regulation themselves so that they can share population register data with EU governments. This way, the information exchange becomes reciprocal.”
Although the amendment is simple in terms of content, it must of course be approved by the college and the municipal council. It is important to note that it specifically concerns data sharing for the administrative approach to organized crime. For each request, the official must weigh up whether it is justified to share the data. In addition, of course, only the data necessary for a case may be shared. The data is only shared with EU government bodies with a link to the administrative approach to organised crime, such as cities and municipalities. Finally, the foreign municipality must know which Dutch municipality they want to write to. After all, Dutch municipalities can only provide information on persons registered in their municipality.
“When Dutch municipalities change their regulation, they do it not only for their own municipality, although of course the latter also feels the effect of this, as it fights organised crime,” says Huijgens. “They also do it to strengthen the administrative approach together, across borders. In the end, we can only do that together.” Klinkers adds, “The administrative approach consists of many puzzle pieces. That population register data could be just the piece that another municipality needs to trigger an administrative intervention.”
EURIEC staff call on Dutch municipalities to start the process of this adaptation. “It may take some time and you have to dig in, but it is something small you can do as a municipality to create a barrier against cross-border organised crime. If all municipalities implement this change, we can make a real step in the possibilities for international information exchange,” The manual is now available at https://euriec.eu/.