On September 14-16, over three days, members of the Ukrainian Parliament, EU officials as well as experts from several EU-funded projects visited a number of border crossing points on the common border between Ukraine and EU Member States to get acquainted with the available infrastructure and equipment, hear and discuss the needs and ways forward in addressing the current problems and challenges. This field visit was supported by the EU Advisory Mission and the EU4IBM project.
Zakarpattia region has a particular interest in making a better use of the border with the EU as this relatively small region is a neighbour to four EU countries. Both small border traffic and ample cargo and passenger flows cross Zakarpattia bringing about challenges and opportunities to the region and the country.
“Integrated Border Management is the answer that helps guaranteeing the security of Ukraine’s national border but also facilitates movement of legal travellers and cargo. The European Union stands ready to support Ukraine in the implementation of the Integrated Border Management Strategy and related initiatives,” said Xavier Camus, Head of Operations Section “Good Governance and Rule of Law” at the EU Delegation to Ukraine.
However, according to EU representatives, this support undoubtedly calls for updating relevant business processes and legal bases, ensuring further maintenance and replication of piloted solutions by the Ukrainian side, fostering ownership by two key actors – the State Border Service of Ukraine (SBGS) and the State Customs Service of Ukraine (SCS) – as well as staff integrity and safeguards against corruption and abuse. Integrated Border Management (IBM) actors should have a clear vision on how to transform the processes and procedures at the border to guarantee efficient and secure border crossing with infrastructure, equipment and IT reinforcing this transformation.
While visiting the BCPs in Luzhanka-Beregsurany, Chop-Zahony and Uzhhorod-Vysne Nemecke, the participants had the possibility to discuss infrastructure, equipment and training needs of border guards and customs officers as well as the perspectives of introducing more efficient procedures and processes, including joint controls with the neighbouring countries. The concept of the automated traffic management at BCPs with the use of e-tickets was also presented by the Ukrainian authorities.
“EU4IBM experts have identified the needs and opportunities to improve control processes at road BCPs which would not require extensive financial investments but can bring significant value for the ultimate customers – passengers and economic operators. In particular, substantial gains in time could be made by redesigning cargo transport control processes to eliminate unnecessary steps and optimise interactions with different authorities at BCP,” explained Arunas Adomenas, the EU4IBM international Team Leader.
Improved procedures accompanied by modern technical and IT solutions would also increase the safety and transparency of controls by keeping records of all transport and passengers as well as of all decisions taken by the officials. This would help closing the space for corruption and prevent unlawful activities scourging the border regions on both sides.
“The EU Schengen zone is built on mutual trust between Member States, and trust is the most sought-after currency. To further increase such trust between EU Member States and Ukraine, certain measures such as criminalizing large scale smuggling would be very helpful, and would by the way significantly increase revenue for the Ukrainian state budget. A respective draft law initiated by President Zelenskyy is currently on the table of the Ukrainian parliament, and we closely follow the discussions around this document,” highlighted Frank Paul, member of the Support Group to Ukraine in Brussels.
Background information: The project “EU Support to Strengthening Integrated Border Management in Ukraine (EU4IBM)” is funded by the EU, carried out by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and supports the implementation of the reforms approximating the Ukrainian border management system to the EU standards and best practices in line with the Integrated Border Management Strategy of Ukraine adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers on 24 July 2019. The project runs from December 2019 until June 2022.