When compared to 2009, the overall situation at the common borders between the Eastern Borders Risk Analysis Network (EB-RAN) members (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, the Russian Federation) and neighbouring Frontex Risk Analysis Network (FRAN) members (Poland, Slovakia, Finland, Norway, Lithuania, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and Estonia) did not change significantly.
Analysis of the available statistical data, additional information provided by the EB-RAN countries and relevant Frontex-coordinated Joint Operations (JOs) clearly indicate that the single largest threat to border security at the common borders between EU Member States and EB-RAN countries (henceforth referred to simply as “the common borders”) remains smuggling of excise goods, especially cigarettes and fuel, followed by stolen vehicles on exit from the EU and the localised smuggling of household goods ranging from groceries to electronics. This is mostly due to significant price differences between EU Member States and Eastern European Countries.
Frontex-coordinated JO Focal Points data indicate that the suppliers of cigarettes smuggled through the common borders are, in order of quantity smuggled, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Belarus and Moldova. The workload of border guards does not vary considerably, however, as a meaningful number of cigarettes is smuggled by the green border and through rivers and the price gap is very similar along the entirety of the common borders.
Data collected by Frontex indicates that the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine remain markets with a significant purchasing power and high demand for second-hand and (to a lesser extent) new vehicles such as motorbikes, cars, heavy machines (agricultural and construction machines) and lorries. Due to market needs the modi operandi of smugglers of vehicles are varied and rapidly changing.
Despite the small amount of seizures, there are indications of drug trafficking routes from Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan or Uzbekistan) to the Russian Federation for the domestic market as well as to be further smuggled to the EU. The Odessa seaport appears as a point of entry for cocaine smuggled from South America, whereas Russian ports such as Saint Petersburg and Murmansk are used as entrance points for synthetic drugs from EU countries.
In 2010 two routes of trafficking in human beings (THB) which affect both EU Member States and/or EB-RAN countries were particularly visible. The first was a trafficking route between Moldova and Romania used for trafficking Moldovans (including minors) to Romania and other EU Member States. A second THB route takes Moldovans and Belarusians from their respective countries to Turkey or through Turkey to Arab countries such as Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.
The risk of irregular migration is considered somewhat smaller in its magnitude when compared to the cross-border crime phenomenon. Frontex analysis clearly points to the existence of two migratory systems affecting both EB-RAN countries and neighbouring FRAN members. The first one links CIS* migrants to the Russian Federation as their main destination country while the other brings both CIS and non-CIS migrants into the EU. Relative differences in earning potential between source (mainly in south Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa) and destination countries (the EU and the Russian Federation) are the key motivators for both movements.
During 2010 the Slovakia-Ukraine border remained the most affected section of the common borders in terms of irregular migration (more than 40% of the total detections of illegal border-crossings at the common borders took place there). As was the case in 2009, detections there still point to two distinct flows of migration composed of CIS and non-CIS nationals. The two flows differ in terms of composition, modus operandi and need for facilitation (or lack thereof). CIS nationals (mainly from Moldova and Georgia) represented the largest share of irregular migrants detected (more than 50%).
Migration of non-CIS nationals to the EU consists mainly of Afghans, Somalis and Palestinians. Detection figures from Ukraine suggest three main ways CIS migrants use to arrive to Ukraine: (a) direct arrival using legal travel channels (business, student or tourism visa), (b) indirect arrival, transiting the Russian Federation, and (c) via Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Ukraine remains the main transit country for both CIS and non-CIS irregular migrants aiming at reaching 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.
In terms of yearly trends (which can only be ascertained for FRAN members, as there is no previous data from EB-RAN countries), the overall number of refusals issued by FRAN members alone decreased marginally from around 36 200 in 2009 to around 34 000 in 2010. The decrease was largely due to a 15% drop in Polish refusals and occurred despite a 33% increase in Hungary’s refusals. Both developments are an indication of changes in the composition of regular passenger flows (less Georgians attempting to enter Poland) and possible changes in border checks procedures (Hungary).
Poland and Ukraine will host the Euro Cup from June to July 2012. Networks organising irregular migration as well as smuggling activities may try to take advantage of the simplified border-crossing rules that will apply during the competition.
* The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is a regional organisation established in 1991 whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics.