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Government responds to EU Migrant Smuggling Report

7 March 2016

The Government has responded to the report of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee on the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling.


The Committee's report considered the efficacy of the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015–2020), published on 27 May 2015. The Action Plan aims "to counter and prevent migrant smuggling while ensuring the protection of the human rights of migrants." The Committee's conclusions included:

  • Evidence suggests that a majority of those currently entering the EU as irregular migrants are at least ‘prima facie refugees' as defined by the UNHCR. It is therefore appropriate to refer to the present crisis as a refugee crisis, and the Government should acknowledge that this is the case.
  • The Action Plan sets out the correct priorities for tackling this problem. But insufficient weight is attached to the measures within the Action Plan to assist vulnerable migrants. Such assistance should be regarded as being at least equally important as increasing law enforcement measures.
  • More should be done to create safe and legal routes for refugees to enter the EU, for example by making use of humanitarian visas.
  • In reviewing EU legislation on migrant smuggling, the Commission should propose an EU framework that builds on the humanitarian aspects of the UN Protocol, by criminalising only acts committed for financial gain, and by adding clauses to avoid the criminalisation of individuals or organisations acting for humanitarian purposes.

What next?

A debate will be held on the Committee's report at a date to be decided.

Further information

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