Frontex and customs – working together for the safety and security of EU’s borders


When coming back home from a holiday or business trip, you will often notice border guards and customs officers working side-by-side at Europe’s external borders. Their cooperation is key to combatting cross-border crimes such as drug and weapon smuggling and protect internal security of all EU Member States.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, too, is developing its collaboration with customs officials from all around Europe. The agency already cooperates with customs in the fields of coast guard functions, combatting cross-border crime in joint operational activities, as well as training.

Border guards taking part in Frontex operations conduct joint controls and share of information and intelligence with customs officers for more efficient evaluation of potential risks. Frontex and customs authorities coordinate inspections and controls procedures.

Recently, customs authorities teamed up with Frontex to conduct an international action against serious and organised cross-border crime under the umbrella of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) as part of the EU Policy Cycle agreed by the Council. It took place at EU’s borders with Western Balkan countries, Southeast Europe and selected border crossing points at the Eastern land border. In less than two weeks, the joint efforts led to the seizure of 712 kg of heroin and 540 kg of cannabis, arrest of 140 people smugglers and identification of 500 stolen cars.

Together with the Customs Eastern and South-Eastern Land Border Expert Team (CELBET), Frontex organises courses to improve the cooperation between customs and border guard authorities at border crossings. Under EMPACT, Frontex also trains customs and other authorities involved in combatting the avoidance of paying excise duties on tobacco, alcohol and fuels. The agency’s tools and services help detect the smuggling of these goods by sea, which deprives national budgets of billions of euros each year.

Another example of cooperation is the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Integrated Border Management Capacity Building Project, implemented by Frontex together with the World Customs Organization. The project strengthened the ability of the border agencies of the six Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – to cooperate with all of the organisations involved in border management.

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