I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 and 303 together.
On 27 May 2015, the European Commission issued the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015-2020). This sets out a structured policy framework identifying a set of concrete measures in four priority areas:
- enhanced police and judicial response;
- improved gathering and sharing of information
- stronger prevention; and
- increased cooperation with third countries.
An aspect of the enhanced police response was the suggested establishment of a single point of contact on migrant smuggling in each member state to enhance operational cooperation, coordination and the sharing of information with each other and with EU agencies.
The facilitation of illegal immigration is one of the priorities is one of Europol’s priority crime areas under the EMPACT programme (European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats) in the 2018-2021 EU Policy Cycle. The stated aim of this policy area is to disrupt Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) who facilitate illegal immigration by providing facilitation services to irregular migrants along the main migratory routes crossing the external border of the EU and within the EU.
The Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) play a key role in relation to these matters and I am informed that insofar as my Department is concerned, following the recent restructuring, migrant smuggling policy will now be led by the Criminal Justice Policy team.