Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

30 September 2021

On Thursday 30 September, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) will publish a special report on Europol’s support in combating migrant smuggling


Migrant smuggling has posed a major humanitarian and security challenge for the EU in recent years. For example, it is estimated that migrant smugglers facilitated the journeys of the majority of the more than 1 million people who entered the EU irregularly in 2015 and 2016.

The EU’s agency for law enforcement cooperation, Europol, does not have executive powers: it cannot arrest criminals. But it serves as a hub for exchanging information on criminal activities, and provides coordination and operational and strategic support for Member States’ criminal investigations. In 2016, following a period when irregular immigration levels were high, Europol established a European Migrant Smuggling Centre.


The EU auditors have assessed whether Europol provided Member States with effective support against the facilitators of illegal immigration, and whether it made an effective contribution to dismantling criminal networks involved in organised migrant smuggling.

The audit may contribute to the ongoing debate on how the EU can manage migratory pressure. Its conclusions may also influence the ongoing review of the Europol Regulation.