European Institutional Framework – Policies


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Migrant Smuggling

Migrant smuggling is a profitable business for criminal networks with estimated annual turnover reaching multiple billion Euros. Smugglers use land, sea and air routes to facilitate illegal migration both into and within the EU and abuse the legal migration system to further their illegal business practices.

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In May 2015, the Commission published the EU Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling setting out a series of steps to tackle this problem between 2015 and 2020. These are grouped into four main priorities:

– Enhanced police and judicial response

– Improved gathering and sharing of information

– Enhanced prevention of smuggling and assistance to vulnerable migrants

– Stronger cooperation with third countries

The implementation of the plan is ongoing, alongside a number of complimentary initiatives to tackle migrant smuggling.

The Council Conclusions adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs ministers on 10 March 2016 echo the commitments to advance concerted action at EU and international levels against migrant smuggling and set out concrete recommendations to Member States, the Commission and EU agencies.

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Return & readmission

Every year, between 400.000 and 500.000 foreign nationals are ordered to leave the EU because they have entered or they are staying irregularly. However, only 40 % of them are sent back to their home country or to the country from which they traveled to the EU. An effective and humane return policy is a necessary part of a comprehensive migration policy and does not contradict a more open migration policy. Ensuring the return of irregular migrants is in fact absolutely essential in order to enhance the credibility of policies in the field of international protection and legal migration.

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