Judicial and law enforcement professionals from France, United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as liaison magistrates and specialists from Europol, recently came together at Eurojust for an operational meeting on illegal immigrant smuggling in the North Sea region.

The meeting, which was chaired by the National Member for France, discussed emerging trends and new threats in the field of illegal immigrant smuggling and explored the possibilities of more efficient cooperation and information sharing in related cases.

During the meeting, the work of Eurojust’s Thematic group on Illegal immigrant smuggling (TG IIS) was presented, after which the authorities involved outlined the state of play in the fight against illegal immigrant smuggling in their respective countries. Specialists from Europol then presented the work of their team in disrupting migrant smuggling networks. The participants highlighted the complexity of the migrant smuggling phenomenon, in which national authorities are confronted with highly adaptable and mobile transnational criminal networks.

The participants emphasized the need: To improve information sharing between the competent national law enforcement and judicial authorities, as well as with Europol, Frontex, European border agency, and the relevant administrative and port authorities;To facilitate financial investigations aimed at seizing the considerable profits generated by smuggling activities; To increase the focus on counterfeit and forged official documents; and To enhance cross-border surveillance operations in order to better map smuggling offences and build stronger prosecution cases.

In conclusion, the participants decided to set up a task force comprising representatives of national judicial and law enforcement authorities as well as liaison magistrates. The task force will meet regularly at the Court of Lille with the aim of enhancing practical cooperation in cross-border investigations and prosecutions to ensure an effective collective response to illegal immigrant smuggling. The task force will complement arrangements already in place between the four Member States.