Public Debate: Beyond Networks, Militias, and Tribes: Rethinking EU Counter-Smuggling Policy and Response

25 May 2021
Online Event
This webinar introduces EuroMesCo’s recent policy study Beyond Networks, Militias and Tribes: rethinking EU Counter-Smuggling Policy and Response. The study acknowledges the EU’s counter-smug­gling strategy as an essential component of EU migration manage­ment discourse, policy and response. The strategy’s results have often been showcased as a sign of the strong collaborative ties between the EU and countries in North Africa and the Sahel. However, the strategy itself has raised significant questioning. Its strong focus on the Libyan case left examinations into smuggling dynamics in other regions like Algeria or the Canary Islands virtually untouched. It has also lacked inputs from third countries as well as their academic and policy voices (including those of junior and female researchers).

The criminalisation under the migrant smuggling rubric of long-standing transportation and trade practices – in the process disturbing local, tribal economies – is believed to have furthered the marginalization of already precarious settings. The reliance on migrant returns, incarceration and detention practices, combined with the high death rate in the Mediterranean, all have raised questions over the human right implications of the strategy. Furthermore, the focus on dismantling smug­gling operations has also been criticised for the way it deflects atten­tion from the reason at the core of the demand for smuggling services – the reduced availability of safe, orderly and regular paths for migration as outlined in the Global Compact for Migration.

If you are interested in the event, please register.



Gabriella Sanchez Fellow-Head of Migrant Smuggling Research EUI – European University Institute


Kheira Arrouche PhD Candidate University of Leeds


Luigi Achilli Research Associate Migration Policy Center (MPC, RSCAS, EUI)
circle graphic