Summary: This report by the Center for the Study of Democracy investigates existing forms of cooperation between Border Guards and customs administrations in the European Union. The study highlights obstacles to cooperation and proposes solutions and best practices for overcoming them. The study finds that despite the common policy interest on border agency cooperation and the associated pan-European standardisation efforts, the individual Member states decide the extent and forms of customs-border guard co-operation on their own. As a result, the current state of border agency collaboration and potential for improvements differ substantially between the member states. The main differences arise from the institutional set-up (e.g., number and roles of border control agencies), powers and competencies of the border control agencies, and the legislative basis (especially legal differences in terms of privacy, data protection and confidentiality of trade information). Download the report here: http://ec.europa.eu. Review by Toni Männistö (CBRA)
Full review: The study concludes with a large number of recommendations for the European Union, the member states, and for the customs and border guards. The European Union should generate political will to act upon remaining challenges of border agency cooperation by creating awareness through public debates, communications and impact assessments. The EU bodies should act mediators to reconcile institutional interests of different border control agencies. The EU could also commission pilot projects on border agency cooperation, encourage joint training and increase funding of related research and development activities. Also the mandate of Frontex could be expanded to cover customs cooperation.
The individual member states should, according to the report, also mediate negotiations between border control agencies to overcome possible conflicts of interest. The member states should also evaluate impacts of various forms of customs-border guard cooperation.
The border guards and customs administrations themselves should identify and exchange best practices for strengthening their mutual collaboration. The agencies, the report recommends, should take responsibility for the pilot projects and for evaluating outcomes of the different forms of cooperation. To further improve the cooperation across the entire EU customs union, the customs and border control agencies should use Frontex more as their platform to conduct joint operations at the EU’s external border.
Reference: Center for the Study of Democracy, (2011), “Better Management of EU Borders through Cooperation”, Study to Identify Best Practices on the Cooperation Between Border Guards and Customs Administrations Working at the External Borders of the EU