01 July 2016
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The EU's policy cycle on serious and organised crime is supposed to coordinate the actions of Europol and Member States' law enforcement priorities in order to deal with a series of cross-border "threats", identified by Europol and subsequently approved by the Council of the EU. Amongst the current priorities is "facilitated illegal immigration". A leaked Europol report gives an overview of work undertaken during 2016.
NOTE from: General Secretariat of the Council to: Standing Committee on Operational Co-operation on Internal Security: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (9931/16, EU RESTREINT/EU RESTRICTED, 9 June 2016, pdf)
"In 2015 the FII priority had 21 actions supported by two EMPACT grants, (France as main beneficiary with EUR 178,487, Austria as main beneficiary with EUR 174.985)...
"At the October 2015 reporting 6 actions were successfully completed, 1 was cancelled so 15 actions were still “live” including 8 “operational” actions. At the May 2016 reporting 11 actions are successfully completed, 4 continue, 2 are not completed, 1 is cancelled and the status of 2 is unclear; substantial progress has been made.
"The final statistics for 2015 indicate that the number of contributions to FP Checkpoint reached 8815, a 78% increase on the previous year. There are significant operational results to report."
Another Europol document seen by Statewatch states that the number of operational actions carried out in the framework of the policy cycle has increased significantly:
"The scale of the OAPs is larger than ever before. There are 260 actions currently running, 56 from 2015 OAPs and 204 from 2016 OAPs; 130 have an operational focus and 133 are funded by EMPACT Delegation Agreement grants. This is large-scale work. To give an example, one 2016 action, in support of Facilitated Illegal Immigration, funded by an EMPACT grant of EUR 273.000, has set up a Joint Operational Office in Austria to host investigation teams working against the OCGs profiting from the current migration crisis and prevent the tragedies such as the 71 dead migrants found in a lorry just 9 months ago.
The success of the EU Policy Cycle mainly depends on the commitment and leadership of the Member States. In addition, EU agencies lead actions in priorities relevant to their work, and Frontex and Europol act even as Co-Drivers. The expertise and commitment of the Commission, the EEAS [European External Action Service] and EU agencies is vital both to the collective achievement of the priorities but also to ensuring that other initiatives and projects are aligned with the EU Policy Cycle, following the model that COSI is promoting by seeking to better align the work of the CCWP [Customs Cooperation Working Party] with the EU Policy Cycle. The role of Third States is also important and the EMPACT [European Multidiscplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] funding has advanced the possibilities for their involvement in the EU Policy Cycle.
The next 12 months require us all to plan for the next EU Policy Cycle. This will involve contributing to and drawing on the findings of the SOCTA [Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment] and may involve Member States reviewing their national priorities and considering their alignment with EU priorities. It could involve preparing professionals for key EMPACT leadership roles. The work we do together in the next twelve months will ensure we bring the 2013-17 cycle to a successful conclusion and are fully and properly prepared for the 2017-21 Policy Cycle."
Official oversight and future planning for the policy cycle is in the hands of Europol, national officials acting within the Council and national law enforcement agencies.
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