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
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
“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.