Europol will be able to play a more significant role in supporting member states by processing biometric data to stop migrant smuggling – Anneliese Verlinden, Belgian Interior Minister.

EU member state representatives (Coreper) agreed on the Council’s negotiating mandate for a regulation strenghthening Europol’s role in supporting member states in their fight against migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings.

The draft regulation changes the current Europol regulation and strengthens the mandate of Europol in order to more actively support member states in tackling these crimes, and introduces increased information sharing requirements to improve national and EU-level cooperation. Europol is the EU agency that assists national law enforcement bodies in fighting organised crime and terrorism.

Migrant smuggling is a billion euro crime business at the expense of the weakest. We want to put a stop to the smugglers and Europol can play an important role in this – Annelies Verlinden, Belgian Minister of the Interior

Main elements of Council position

Europol will be able to play a more significant role in supporting member states through the processing of biometric data to close the blind spots that criminals seek to exploit by hiding behind false and multiple identities.

In order to regulate current practice, the possibility is now foreseen for the EU agency, by request of member states, to deploy Europol staff or seconded national experts on the territory of member states and in third countries to provide analytical, operational, technical and forensic support. This operational support may for instance take place in the context of border management.

In order to allow Europol to play its role in fighting migrant smuggling and increase information sharing, member states law enforcement immigration liaison officers could be connected to SIENA, Europol’s secure communication platform for law enforcement authorities.

In order to ensure a closer cooperation and better exchange of information between EU crime-fighting agencies, Frontex – the EU’s border agency – and Eurojust – the European Union agency for criminal justice cooperation – will be invited to permanently second liaison officers to Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC).

Europol will also strenghthen its support for the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), the key EU tool for fighting serious and organised crime.

The Council also decided that Europol should receive additional financial and human resources to carry out its tasks.  Next steps

Today’s negotiating mandate will allow the Council to engage with the European Parliament to agree on a final legal text, as soon as Parliament has decided on its position.


On 28 November 2023, the European Commission proposed a new legislative package to prevent and fight migrant smuggling. In addition to the regulation to reinforce Europol’s role – on which member states reached agreement today – the Commission also proposed a criminal justice law to prevent and counter migrant smuggling.

According to Europol, more than 90% of the irregular migrants who reach the EU make use of the services of smugglers, and the UN estimates that smuggling networks rake in profits of between €4.7 and €6 billion annually.

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