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Prime Minister and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer to hold talks in Vienna on illegal migration

Pair expected to agree joint statement committing to closer cooperation to counter this seismic and pan-European challenge.Extra funding for the National Crime Agency to tackle people smuggling operations.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet Chancellor Nehammer in Vienna today to discuss illegal migration – one of the most urgent challenges for leaders across Europe. The pair are expected to agree that designated safe third countries are part of the solution for best protecting Europe from irregular migratory pressures and preventing people from making illegal, dangerous journeys – such as the Rwanda style model. The Vienna meeting follows a joint letter from fifteen EU countries, including Austria, last week calling for new solutions to address irregular migration to Europe, including potential cooperation with third countries.  This comes as an additional £25 million is given to the National Crime Agency to sustain – and scale up – these efforts to disrupt people smugglers and their operations. 

The Government doubled the funding available to the National Crime Agency in 2023 to prevent the supply of boats and engines. 

This has successfully hit the criminal gangs’ profits. After 12 months of a dedicated operation, small boat engine costs have increased by nearly five times their price in March 2023. And critically, the cost of crossing the Channel has risen by four times from its low in 2023.   

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:  

We are leading the charge with partners across the continent to meet the challenges caused by intolerable levels of illegal migration. Just last week fifteen EU countries called for new solutions to address this growing issue. Our disruption of the cruel trade of criminal gangs, together with our Rwanda scheme, are part of a deterrent to stop illegal migration once and for all. It is the British public who should make decisions about who crosses our borders. 

The £25 million additional funding is expected to:  

Provide new equipment and specialist teams in the National Crime Agency. This will enhance the investigative capability to disrupt the small boats supply chain and uplift covert intelligence capabilities, including intelligence sharing with partners. 
Enhance the Joint Fusion Cell which brings together the National Crime Agency, policing and Home Office operations to identify previously unknown leads, ensuring there is no place to hide for criminal gangs. The new funding will deliver enhanced information at greater scale by combining multiple data sources not previously brought together - meaning we will be able to better identify and expand upon new leads to investigate Organised Immigration Crime.   
Increase the disruption of supply chains by enhancing the capability of specialist small boat disruption teams and giving officers better kit to disrupt organised immigration crime.   
Home Secretary, James Cleverly, said: 

I have prioritised cracking down on organised immigration crime and breaking the business model of people smugglers since day one. 

Since 2020, we have already successfully dismantled 82 organised crime groups, seized 352 boats and prevented thousands of migrants from crossing the Channel. 

Through our continued work with the National Crime Agency and enhancing our capabilities even further, we’ll do everything possible to disrupt the criminals who profit from this immoral trade.

Last month the UK Government passed the Rwanda Act, and detentions for those in scope for flights have started.  

The first flight will leave in early July and there will be regular flights, every month, to Rwanda over the summer and beyond – until the boats are stopped. 

The Vienna meeting comes on the back of months of shared European action to tackle illegal migration across the continent. That has included joint enforcement action against gangs, the sharing of intelligence to dismantle smuggling routes, and the sharing of best practice between countries dealing with large numbers of small boat arrivals. 

The Foreign Secretary will also underline the success of our innovative partnership to tackle people smugglers and illegal migration this week. 

Tomorrow he will hold high level talks with the Albanian President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and discuss Albania-UK cooperation on controlling illegal migration on the front line and the impact UK investments have in preventing future immigration. 

These discussions come ahead of a string of summer international summits, including the European Political Community meeting in the UK in July, where the threat of illegal migration is expected to be high on the agenda

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