Robert Črepinko, Head of Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) today attended the official opening of a Joint Operational Office (JOO) in Vienna, Austria. The Austrian Minister of Interior, Wolfgang Sobotka, presided over the opening ceremony.
The JOO will serve as a regional operational platform for international investigations into migrant smuggling organised crime groups (OCGs). Europol’s EMSC and JOO will cooperate closely to detect and dismantle OCGs facilitating illegal immigration along the Western-Balkan and Central Mediterranean route. JOO can also serve as a contact point for third parties in the source region of migration. Europol contributed financially to the establishment of the JOO through its Delegation Agreement mechanism.
Mr Črepinko expressed Europol’s commitment to deploying more resources for the cross-border operational activities, in order to fulfil the common commitment of tackling organised crime more effectively. According to him, Europol will soon deploy more staff to the JOO.
Minister Wolfgang Sobotka welcomed the opening of the JOO, underlining that the fight against smugglers has to be coordinated, and he called for better international exchange of information.
A joint kick-off EMPACT meeting on the irregular migration priority took place simultaneously. The event saw the participation of investigators from 15 EU and non-EU countries, such as Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. One of the main topics discussed was the development of operational cooperation among the relevant parties.