On 27 April, Ms Teresa-Angela Camelio represented Eurojust at the opening ceremony of the European Union Regional Task Force (EURTF) office in Catania, Sicily.
Notable attendees included Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos (EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship), Minister Angelino Alfano (Interior Minister of Italy), Mr Enzo Bianco (Mayor of Catania), Mr Andrea Bonomo, Public Prosecutor, Prosecution Office of Catania, and Mr Fabrice Leggeri (Executive Director of Frontex).
The EURTF is a shared office where representatives of Frontex, Europol, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and EUNAVFOR MED work together to coordinate EU assistance to national authorities in the identification, registration, and return of migrants. The EURTF office also hosts a Eurojust correspondent to ensure adequate judicial follow-up.
Eurojust’s contact point in the EURTF office in Catania is the Correspondent of the National Anti-mafia and Antiterrorism Directorate responsible for the district of Catania.
About Eurojust’s participation in the EURTF, Ms Camelio said:
Eurojust supports and strengthens cooperation between the Member States’ judicial authorities to dismantle and prosecute smuggling and trafficking networks. Eurojust’s unique role makes it one of the main players in the EURTF.
The EURTF was set up as part of the ‘Hotspot approach’, as outlined in the Commission’s European Agenda on Migration. A Hotspot is a section of the EU external border or a region with extraordinary migratory pressure and mixed flows that requires reinforced and concerted EU agency support in the affected Member State.
According to Frontex, having a coordinating office in proximity to the migratory pressure allows for better coordination of the exchange of information between agencies as well as the ability to work directly with the local authorities.
In 2015, over one million migrants entered the European Union; 90 per cent of those entries were facilitated by smugglers.
In 2015, Eurojust:
• registered 60 illegal immigrant smuggling cases
• held 20 coordination meetings
• assisted in the setting up of nine joint investigation teams
• created the Thematic Group on Illegal Immigrant Smuggling
• signed a Letter of Understanding with EUNAVFOR MED