The first PMI IMPACT funding round was launched in June 2016 and called for projects combating illegal trade and related crimes in the European Union. A total of 31 projects – from academic institutions, law enforcement agencies, and private organizations - in 16 countries were selected for funding.

Covering a broad range of activities in the EU and neighboring countries, the selected projects put forward innovative solutions and perspectives. The total grants awarded reached USD 28 million.



Covering a broad range of activities in the European Union and neighboring countries, the selected projects have real potential to advance global efforts against illegal trade and serve as best practices. Many of them go beyond tackling the illegal tobacco trade, and explore the nexus with organized crime, terrorism, online and offline trafficking, and the interdependencies with illegal trade.

The projects were completed over the next two years following the closing of the funding round, and include:
  • Research from public universities and independent think-tanks exploring the scope and drivers of illegal trade to develop recommendations tackling the issue from different perspectives, including consumer demand, legislative and judicial frameworks, stakeholder action;
  • Projects building technical solutions and equipment to support law enforcement operations and strengthen the control over illegal activities;
  • Activities to enhance the capacity and proficiency of law enforcement and customs officers, relevant public institutions, and the expert community;
  • Educational and awareness programs for opinion leaders and the broader public, including forums for greater cross-sectoral collaboration.


Development of a pan-European awareness platform, based on digital communication tools, to inform about the illegal trade of tobacco products and other mass consumption goods.


Sociological research and comparative analysis of legislation, combined with awareness activities and training programs on intellectual property protection, to combat illegal trade and counterfeiting, with a focus on Belarus, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the EU.

BOTEC Analysis

Research on the interaction between illegal tobacco trade and e-cigarette policies in the EU.

California State University, Long Beach Research Foundation

Research examining illegal tobacco trade on the dark net, and how the market is facilitated by both single vendor shops and crypto markets.

Center for the Study of Democracy

Research into the drivers of illegal tobacco trade in Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, and Romania. Development of tools for performance evaluation and corruption risk assessment of law enforcement and revenue authorities with regards to illegal tobacco trade.


Research exploring the size of and attitudes towards shadow economy generated in part by cigarette smuggling in border-towns within Eastern Europe. Development of policy recommendations to reduce the incentives for illegal trade by strengthening local economies.

Cross-border Research Association

Research project to study the sourcing and supply chains of raw materials and secondhand production machinery used for the manufacturing of illicit cigarettes. The project will provide recommendations for a new joint monitoring system and improved enforcement mechanisms and tools.


Research into the links between criminality and terrorism among individuals arrested for terrorism-related offences in 11 EU Member States in 2015, and related information campaigns to raise awareness on the modalities of the crime-terror nexus.


Development of a system to prevent, detect, and reveal illegal trafficking networks and street crimes, including the illegal tobacco trade, using smart city sensors data.

Hellenic Coast Guard

Procurement of high-speed boats to patrol the national waters of Greece to prevent illegal trade.

ICSA Foundation

A combination of research, educational, and dissemination activities exploring the connection between cigarette smuggling, related crimes, and the financing of international terrorism. The aim is to increase public awareness on global security risks associated with illicit trade.


Image analysis and threat objects recognition training program for the operators of x-ray cargo scanners to enable a faster and more efficient screening process and the identification of a range of potential threats.

Institute for Market Economics

Analysis of the institutional framework in Bulgaria and its effects on the illegal market in order to explore the links between economic issues and the legal and institutional framework, such as criminal prosecution and the performance of investigative bodies.

Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Research project to identify trends and required modifications in the control of illegal tobacco trade, from the perspective of criminal and IP laws, the impact of Brexit, industry agreements, and public-private partnerships.

Kazazi Consulting

Research on illegal tobacco trade in Albania and bordering countries, exploring the correlation between tax policies, penal legislation against illicit trade, and state policies. Monitoring of the growing, processing, and trade of raw tobacco, as well as the illicit tobacco trade and corruption.

Kiel University

Research on asset recovery as a legal instrument to discourage illegal tobacco trade in Germany and other jurisdictions.


Research project to collate intelligence related to tobacco products seizures within the EU, Norway, and Switzerland. The collated intelligence will be used to identify key trends in illicit tobacco trade activity across the countries within the study, presented in a way that helps law enforcement to act on trends identified and reduce illicit tobacco trade.

Lithuanian Free Market Institute

Research and awareness activities, exploring the scope and drivers of illegal trade in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Sweden, and Czech Republic.

Oxford Economics

Research and analysis of the motivations of consumers to buy illegal goods, and the anti-illicit trade strategies of businesses and policy makers.

Panta Rhei Research Limited Company

A combination of research, education and training to map illicit trade activities in Europe and investigate evidence of the terrorism-crime nexus, explain its nature and dynamics, and spell out its implications to create the framework for continued, sustainable, and effective collaboration both across and within sectors and countries.


Campaign in Belgium to raise awareness among local business owners, policy makers, and consumers about the negative consequences of illegal trade and counterfeiting.


Research combined with educational and awareness activities focused on the illegal trafficking of drugs, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), and tobacco products, both offline and online – particularly on the dark net.

Romanian Police

Procurement of patrolling and tobacco detection equipment, coupled with training and coordination activities in Romania to disrupt criminal smuggling networks in the country and at the borders with Ukraine, Moldova and Serbia.


Research exploring key components of contemporary terrorist financing, in particular illegal trade and transnational organized crime, in order to identify inconsistences and implementation shortcomings in counter-terror finance.

Siracusa International Institute (SII)

Comprehensive national and regional assessment of practical challenges for the fight against illicit trade in South Eastern Europe, in order to: identify innovative cross-sectoral solutions; strengthen the capacity of national judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and customs officers; and promote regional harmonisation.

Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC)

Increasing the operational capacity of SELEC and its Member States through training programs, procurement of equipment, infrastructure improvements, and awareness activities to efficiently respond to smuggling into EU via the SELEC region.

The Institute of Economics, Zagreb

Academic research and awareness activities focused on the attitudes and experiences of citizens in the Balkan countries related to illegal tobacco trade.


Research project to identify the flows of illegal cigarette trade through the EU and selected EEMA countries, focusing on how these are connected to the social, political, and legislative frameworks. Assessment of the related risk factors and development of preventive measures to tackle the issue.

Turtle Group Consulting

Research into the complex dynamics of criminal activities related to narcotics, weapons, people smuggling, cigarette smuggling, and terrorism inside Italian ports.

University of National and World Economy

A combination of research, training programs, and awareness activities focused on the modus operandi of illegal tobacco trade and its links to organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking.

University of Palermo

Research and educational activities with a cross-sectoral approach to explore the extent to which the smuggling of goods and the trafficking of human beings are being committed by the same criminal organizations and realized through the same Mediterranean routes.