In 2012, border security at the borders between Member States and Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and the Russian Federation (common borders) was shaped by several interlinking factors.
First, overall regular passenger flows continued to grow in 2012, most notably at the Polish-Russian (+70%) and Norwegian-Russian (roughly +30%) borders. The growth was driven by expanding legal travel channels and long-term economic developments in the Russian Federation, both encouraging the mobility of people and goods.
Second, and somewhat connected to regular passenger flows, the smuggling of excise and illicit goods remained a major threat to border security. Data collected within the Eastern European Borders Risk Analysis Network (EB-RAN), as well as during Frontex-coordinated Joint Operations, indicate that the smuggling of tobacco products and petrol was especially common. Additionally, cross-border criminal activities also included attempts to smuggle stolen vehicles and, perhaps to a lesser extent, illicit drugs. Smuggling occurred primarily through official border-crossing points (BCPs); however, a variety of modi operandi were also detected at green borders (between BCPs).
Third, there were more irregular movements of people across the common borders in 2012. This observation in substantiated by an increasing number of detected illegal border-crossings between BCPs, more refusals of entry issued by Member States and more detections of people trying to exit the EU while no longer fulfilling conditions of stay (the so-called illegal stay on exit).
Member States reported 1 597 detections of illegal border-crossing between BCPs, or 52% more compared to 2011, mostly due to Somalis, Afghans and Vietnamese arriving from Ukraine or Belarus. However, Georgians remained the most frequently detected nationality with a 21% share of the total number of detections.
Although most detections of illegal border-crossing occurred at the Slovakian-Ukrainian border, the growth of detections was most pronounced in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Regardless of this growth, the detections of illegal border-crossing along the 6 000-kilometre common borders accounted for only 2% of all illegal border-crossings at the EU’s external borders during 2012.
On the other hand, more than one-third (34%) of all refusals of entry into the EU in 2012 were issued by Member States’ authorities at the common borders. Out of almost 40 000 (up from 30 848 in 2011) refusals of entry, Poland’s share was 70% of this total.
The phenomenon of migrants detected for illegal stay on exit to Ukraine from Hungary or Poland also grew during 2012. This could be somewhat related to worsening job opportunities in traditional destination Member States for Ukrainian migrants (e.g. Italy, Spain and Poland). Hungary and Poland indicated that some detected overstayers had entered the EU as early as in 2003.