The overall situation at the common and regional borders between the Eastern Border Risk Analysis Network (EB-RAN) members (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine), the Russian Federation and the neighbouring Member States (Poland, Slovakia, Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and Estonia) did not change significantly compared to 2010.
Analysis of the available statistical data, additional information provided by the EB-RAN countries and relevant Frontex-coordinated Joint Operations clearly indicate that the main challenges are linked to growing cross-border movements of regular travellers and illicit goods. Increasing passenger traffic is a derivative of several Local Border Traffic Agreements and relatively high demand for EU visas in the EB-RAN countries. The expanding flow of illicit goods, on the other hand, is caused predominately by price differentials between the two sides of the common borders for a wide range of products, in particular excise goods.
Price differentials and economic disparities in the border zones are the main drivers of smuggling activities. These remain the single largest threat to border security at the common borders between EU Member States, the Russian Federation and EB-RAN countries. Cigarettes and fuel continue to be smuggled mostly towards the EU, while smuggling of stolen vehicles, household goods (ranging from groceries to electronics) follows the opposite direction.
Available data indicate that the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine remain markets with significant purchasing power and high demand for second-hand vehicles such as motorbikes, cars, heavy machines (agricultural and construction machines) and lorries. Due to these market needs the modi operandi of smugglers of vehicles are varied and change rapidly.
The threat of irregular migration is considered somewhat smaller in its magnitude when compared to the above mentioned border security threats. Analysis of EU Member States and EB-RAN members’ statistical data clearly points to two main migratory systems affecting the common borders. The first one is linked to nationals beyond the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), mostly Afghans and Somalis (non- CIS flow) trying to migrate to the EU using the EB-RAN countries as transit points. Detection figures from Ukraine suggest that these migrants usually arrive in Ukraine through legal travel channels (business, student or tourism visa) or indirectly from the Russian Federation.
The second, more traditional, migration system is linking nationals from CIS countries with the Russian Federation as their main destination and to lesser extent also with the EU.
During 2011 the Slovakian-Ukrainian border remained the most affected section of the common borders in terms of irregular migration. Almost 30% of the total detections of illegal border-crossing at the common borders took place there. This border section was followed by a migration route, observed already during 2010, linking Belarus to Lithuania (21% of the total detections of illegal border-crossing at the common borders). The two flows were different in composition, modi operandi and the required facilitation services (or lack thereof).
Ukraine remains the main transit country for both CIS and non-CIS irregular migrants aiming to reach the EU through its eastern borders. In addition, Ukraine is also the major route for migrants from the Caucasus region and Central Asian countries travelling towards (or from) the Russian Federation. It remains difficult to ascertain to what extent the two flows are linked.
Importantly, detections for illegal stay on exit from the EU towards the neighbouring EB-RAN countries more than doubled in 2011 (from around 3 300 to around 6 900). The most significant increases were reported by Poland and Hungary and were largely linked to Ukrainian nationals. This trend could be a further indication of worsening job opportunities within the traditional destination Member States for Ukrainian migrants, i.e. Italy, Germany and Spain.
Finally, Poland and Ukraine hosted the UEFA Football Championship in June and beginning of July 2012. Although the number of border security incidents related to the event was not foreseen to increase, traffic at the common land borders between Poland and its neighbours was expected to grow dramatically during the event. Both Poland and Ukraine planned joint activities to smoothly manage the traffic of supporters through the common borders, including simplification of border checks, which could have been exploited by networks organising irregular migration and engaging in smuggling activities.
* Common and regional borders are outlined in the map in Figure 2 (page 11).
** The Russian Federation is not part of the EB‑RAN information exchange.
*** Commonwealth of Independent States; for the purpose of this document, Georgian nationals are considered as CIS nationals regardless of the fact that Georgia formally ended its membership in CIS on 18 August 2009.