News Release

Smart borders: bringing Frontex and customs closer together


In his keynote speech to the World Customs Organization (WCO), Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri spoke about the essential role of customs authorities for the internal security of the European Union and beyond, and stressed that increasing travel flows will require even closer cooperation between the two organisations in future.

People cross the EU’s external borders more than 600 million times each year and global traveller flows are rising at an ever increasing rate. By 2025, the number of border crossings into the EU is expected to grow to almost 900 million, a third of which will be made by non-EU nationals.

The evolution in travel needs and habits puts pressure on the EU’s traveller processing capabilities, a situation further complicated by ongoing and emerging security threats. Smart borders will be a key solution to these challenges, making it crucial for both border guard and customs authorities to harness the power that innovative new technologies can offer.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to rely on traditional means of border control to ensure an uninterrupted flow of travellers across the border on the one hand, and improved levels of security on the other,” Fabrice Leggeri said. “The work of customs authorities around the world is vital to find effective and sustainable solutions to the risks emanating from cross-border crime and international terrorism, and our cooperation is becoming ever more important.”

One concrete example of this new technology is the forthcoming Entry-Exit System, which will register the entry and departure data of non-EU nationals crossing the external borders of EU Member States. The EU has also started working on the establishment of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will allow visa-exempt travellers to visit the Schengen area. Frontex will play a central role in running this simple, fast and user-friendly system, an important additional security safeguard for Europe.

Frontex is already cooperating with customs in a number of fields, for example in the area of coast guard functions, joint operational activities, and training. There are also joint controls at some borders to facilitate cross-border cooperation, information sharing, and intelligence, for a more efficient risk analysis.

The WCO and Frontex have been collaborating since 2014. The two organisations plan to further strengthen their cooperation in the future by signing a working arrangement, helping the border guard and customs community to combat cross-border crime more effectively.

For more information, see the Frontex focus on customs cooperation here.

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