Tobacco smuggling, including counterfeit products, is presently assessed as one of the most serious risks to border security at the Moldova-Ukraine border, causing the loss of millions of euros to the state budgets of Ukraine and EU member states countries (estimation made by OLAF is €10 bn/year). The likelihood of the illegal movement of cigarettes from Moldova to Ukraine, especially at the central border segment of the border, is high. Analysis of the suspect movement of cigarettes into Transnistria indicates that the delivery of tobacco products vastly exceeds the potential demand on the Transnistrian local market (the population is approx. 500,000). This leads to the conclusion that the products are being moved towards the much larger market in Ukraine and also transited via Moldova to the EU. As an example, from January-June 2014, approximately 7.5 bn cigarettes and 1,592 tons of raw tobacco were delivered to Transnistria.
According to analysis presented by the global cigarette producer ‘British American Tobacco, the smuggling and illicit production of cigarettes in Ukraine decreased in August 2015 to 1,2 % out of the total market compared to 4% in 2014 and 9,2% in 2013. The substantial decrease of illicit cigarettes on the Ukrainian market is related, inter alia, to the decreased smuggling of cigarettes from Transnistria due to efforts of the Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities as well as EUBAM. EUBAM has received several recognitions of thanks from its work on this (OLAF and the UA Association of Tobacco Retailers).
Task Force Tobacco is EUBAM’s key mechanism for engaging with our Moldovan and Ukrainian partners as well as wider stakeholders on the specific issues related to the illicit trade in cigarettes. This systematic and focused mechanism has proved itself to be successful. It has encouraged partners to share intelligence and develop integrated methods for dealing with a common problem. It has also facilitated contacts with their counterparts in EU member states and other countries, as well as the broader business community.
To achieve a more coherent approach, the Mission has recommended that Moldova and Ukraine adopt national strategies to counter the illicit trade in tobacco products, starting with the law‐enforcement component. Both Governments have accepted this as the way forward. Moldovan Customs Service has already launched the service Anti-illicit Tobacco Trade Strategy on 27 October 2015 together with EUBAM and OLAF. The next step is to develop the Moldovan Customs Service Anti-illicit Tobacco Trade Strategy into the national one as well as to develop the analogical national strategy in Ukraine. Once adopted, the national strategies will form an effective basis for deeper partnerships with concerned European and international agencies.
Who we are?
The European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) was launched in 2005. It promotes border control and customs norms and practices that meet EU standards and serve the needs of its two partner countries. It is an advisory, technical body with the Headhunters in Odesa (Ukraine). A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the European Commission and the Governments of Moldova and Ukraine in late 2005 is the legal basis for EUBAM, while an Advisory Board acts as the Mission’s governing body. The mandate of the Mission has already been extended five times (in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2017), with the current mandate expiring on 30 November 2020.
What we do?
The Mission works with Moldova and Ukraine to harmonise border control, and customs and trade standards and procedures with those in EU Member States. It helps to improve cross-border cooperation between the border guard and customs agencies and other law enforcement bodies and to facilitate international coordinated cooperation. EUBAM assists Moldova and Ukraine to fulfil the obligations of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which both countries signed as part of their Association Agreements with the EU. It also contributes to the peaceful settlement of the Transnistrian conflict through confidence building measures and as a monitoring presence at the Transnistrian segment of the Moldova-Ukraine border.
Where we work?
The Moldova-Ukraine state border is 1,222 km long, consisting of 955 km of “green” (land) border and 267 km of “blue” (river) border.
The Mission is headquartered in Odesa (Ukraine). It has an EUBAM Office in Moldova and six field offices – three on the Moldovan side of the joint border and three on the Ukrainian side.
EUBAM Office in Moldova has a liaison function which is focused on projecting and representing the activities of EUBAM amongst other donors and beneficiaries to ensure better coordination and an improved consultative process. It enables the identification of strategic partner needs that are relevant to current and future planning, and have provides EUBAM with an understanding of the broader issues and obstacles that may affect the achievement of objectives.
There are 67 permanent official border crossing points along the Moldovan-Ukrainian border, including international, inter-state and local ones. The central segment of this border length 453 km is under Tiraspol control, including 25 official crossing points to Ukraine.
The “internal boundary” between the two banks of the Dniester river is not monitored by Moldovan border guards, but there are some customs check-points.