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Prevention and fight against migrant smuggling and human trafficking in the Western Balkans

EU Support to Strengthen the Fight against Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings in the Western Balkans

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  • Commissioning Party

    European Commission

  • Cofinancier

    German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Italian Ministry of the Interior, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • Lead executing agency


  • Overall term

    2023 to 2027

  • Other Stakeholders

    German Federal Police, Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), Ministries of the Interior of Croatia, Italy, Austria and Slovenia, international technical cooperation operator of the French Ministry of the Interior – CIVIPOL

  • Products and expertise

    Governance and democracy


Undocumented entries into the European Union (EU), where migrants also become victims of human trafficking, have risen sharply: over 300,000 irregular entries were registered in 2022, an increase of 64 per cent compared to the same period the previous year. Almost half of these migrants entered the country via the Western Balkans route.

Law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities and other competent governmental and non-governmental institutions only have a limited capacity to prevent people smuggling and human trafficking across institutions and borders. They do not have sufficient financial resources to support complex investigations, prosecutions and court proceedings. There is also a lack of equipment, skills and compatible information technology to curb organised groups involved in people smuggling and human trafficking.


The conditions for preventing and reducing people smuggling and human trafficking have improved in the Western Balkans.


Embedded country teams (ECTs) implement the project on behalf of the European Commission. Police officers, public prosecutors, counsellors and assistants from the Western Balkans work together in the teams. The project promotes crime prevention, the protection of people, criminal proceedings against criminals and international cooperation. It thus supports criminal prosecution - including border police - and the judiciary and strengthens the resilience of vulnerable people. It also develops the capacities of the authorities to identify victims of human trafficking. By working together, the project also improves the process of referring victims to aid centres and providing them with public and private support.

Last update: February 2024

Additional information