The EU is strengthening the cooperation and coordination between liaison officers deployed to third countries by member states or the EU to deal with immigration-related issues. To achieve this, the Council today adopted a regulation to improve the functioning of the European network of immigration liaison officers. The new rules include the following provisions:
-a steering board at EU level to strengthen the management of the network and the coordination of immigration liaison officers, while maintaining the competence of the deploying authorities so as to ensure effectiveness and clear lines of communication
-a stronger role for liaison officers in combatting migrant smuggling
-liaison officers will collect information to assist third countries in preventing illegal migration flows and to support border management at the EU's external borders
-liaison officers may also assist member states in facilitating returns of illegally staying third country nationals
-funds will be made available in support of activities of immigration liaison officers that will be allocated in agreement with the steering board
Immigration liaison officers are deployed to third countries by member states and the EU in order to establish and maintain contacts with the authorities of the host country on migration issues (prevention and combatting of illegal migration, facilitating return, managing legal migration).
In 2004, the EU adopted a regulation creating a network of immigration liaison officers to coordinate the efforts of officers within a third-country or region. However, with almost 500 immigration liaison officers currently deployed by member states to more than 100 countries, there have continued to be gaps in coordination, which the new rules will address.