The PCOCP network connects 14 organized crime prosecution offices from 13 countries from the region and the European Union – Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. With the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia (OMiS), the network was established in 2016 with the objective of improving regional co-operation and information-sharing and, consequently, the efficiency of transnational organized crime investigations. In May 2016, during the Conference on managing complex data in organized crime and corruption cases, prosecutors from ten countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia) reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing operational co-operation in fighting organized crime by signing a joint Declaration of Intent [1].

In the second meeting, which took place in November 2016, the network was transformed into a Permanent Conference of prosecutors against organized crime.

In October 2017, the third meeting of the PCOCP, institutionalized the Permanent Conference and created a Secretariat on a rotational basis. Since Serbia had been the initiator of the initiative with the Mission’s assistance, it was declared that the first Chairmanship of the Secretariat would be granted to Serbia, which would hold it for the following four years till October 2021. The seventh meeting of the PCOCP elected Bulgaria as the new Chair of the Secretariat, on 6 December 2021. The Chairmanship of the Secretariat of the PCOCP was originally granted to the Specialised Court and Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bulgaria. Since its closure in 2022, the Sofia Appellate Prosecution Office took over this function.

During the fourth meeting held in Skopje in 2018, the Executive Board was established to manage the work of the Permanent Conference. Adopted membership structure of the Executive Board consists of 4 members – one representative from previous, current and future host country of the conference and one representative from the host country of the Secretariat. Currently, Romania, Montenegro and Greece are the members of the Executive Board of the Permanent Conference. The Executive Board engages in yearly meetings to exchange information, improve capacity and share best practices in order to enhance the efficiency of organized and serious crime investigation, as well as to define the annual network meetings and topics.

In a meantime, the network continued to grow – in March 2017, Hungary signed the Declaration of Intent and became the 11th country of the PCOCP. Greece signed the Declaration of Intent and joined the Permanent Conference in June 2019 during the fifth meeting held in Bucharest, while Austria was the last to sign the Declaration and join the Permanent Conference in November 2023 during the Executive Board meeting held in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

Topics discussed during the annual meetings:

Third meeting, 12-13 October 2017, Rome, Italy

  • Pressing organized crime and terrorism challenges in the EU and in South Eastern Europe;
  • Sharing evidence among prosecution offices through the SIDDA/SIDNA system: advantages and possible security concerns;
  • Cooperation and exchange of information between the Italian DNA and Eurojust and possible cooperation with other countries;
  • Country presentations of main organized crime/terrorism developments; case studies of investigations involving international cooperation.

Fourth meeting, 28-30 June 2018, Skopje, North Macedonia

  • Terrorism – new forms, experiences of prosecutors’ offices in detecting and prosecuting terrorism criminal             offences with a special emphasis on enhancing international co-operation;
  • Financial investigations – current issues in international cooperation, suggestions for improvement;
  • Trafficking in Firearms – Western Balkans’ countries as the arms originating jurisdictions.

Fifth meeting, 04-05 June 2019, Bucharest, Romania

  • The fight against terrorism and radicalization: the challenge of foreign fighters;
  • Financial investigations; international cooperation tools for asset recovery and confiscation;
  • Human smuggling and trafficking along migration routes. An opportunity for organized crime.

Sixth meeting, 27 April 2021, on-line

  • The fight against money laundering;
  • Confiscation of the proceeds of crime.

Seventh meeting, 6 December 2021, on-line

  • PCOCP Secretariat – four years perspective;
  • Proposals for New Secretariat – Nominated Prosecution Offices;
  • Possible expansion of the PCOCP – Proposed Countries.

Eight meeting, 28 April 2022, on-line

  • Support to the Specialised Court and Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bulgaria in their office closure.

Ninth meeting, 22 – 23 February 2023, Belgrade, Serbia (originally host by Montenegro)

Serbia presented the challenges and achievements of its four years as Chair of the PCOCP Secretariat, and Bulgaria took over officially the chairmanship and presented its Plan of Action.  Discussions were held on the practical implementation of the signed Declaration of Intent as well as on three agreed topics:

  • Integrated financial investigations: all crime approach to money laundering and fight against transnational organized crime;
  • Collecting electronic evidence from the internet when dealing with organized and cybercrime; and,
  • Countering terrorism and national challenges regarding Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs): processing and criminal prosecution of FTFs.

The PCOCP network continues to foster its main objectives, which are to facilitate collaboration and exchange of information between prosecutors from the network and enhance their capacity to investigate and prosecute complex criminal cases, develop joint strategies and actions, and improve international cooperation in the fight against organized crime. Simultaneously, the initiative aims to promote cooperation and trust among prosecutors, recognizing that such collaboration is essential for addressing the complexities of these challenges on an international scale.

The OSCE will continue to support the PCOCP but it is very important to ensure the PCOCP sustainability and explore ways to make it more self-sufficient in the following years