Thursday, May 28, 1998 Published at 07:59 GMT 08:59 UK
Making the mafia sweat
Organised crime's influence is felt across Europe
The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council will try to agree a loose political declaration setting out community-wide police and judicial standards for all member countries.
BBC correspondents say that this pact on organised crime is an attempt to improve international cooperation in the fight against mafia gangs who have taken advantage of the European single market to extend their activities across international boundaries.
One proposal is for a standing agreement to allow witnesses in one country to give evidence in trials in other countries by video link
At present, agreements to set up video links between countries have to be negotiated for each case.
The UK is already planning to bring in video links between its own courts and prisons to allow preliminary hearings to take place without the accused leaving jail.
Ministers at the two-day EU meeting in Brussels will also try to develop common standards on DNA testing, so that samples taken from suspects in one country are admissible in a court elsewhere.
Encouraging eastern Europe
Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia have serious problems with mafia gangs but many have little experience of combating crime such as money laundering.
The applicant countries will also be told to bring their legal systems up to EU standard.
"There's the idea of what the rule of law is, and there's actually implementing it," the Home Office official said.
"The question really is, are judicial procedures and the police trusted in applicant countries in the same way as they are in the Union?
"I don't think we have quite got there yet."