On 27 – 28 May 2015, the European Commission and the U.S. State Department (Export Control and Related Border Security Program, EXBS), jointly organized the “Ad Hoc Seminar on the Challenges of Sharing Information in the Enforcement of Strategic Trade Controls” in Vyšné Nemecké, a center of the Slovakian Customs authority close to the Ukrainian border. The seminar aimed to further enhance the inter-agency cooperation on the national level while also offering a platform for Customs and Licensing officials from Easter European countries to discuss how to improve regional cooperation in strategic trade control.
The event was designed as a follow-up activity to the first ad hoc seminar, which took place in Kiev in March 2015. Similar to the seminar in Kiev, the event in Slovakia was attended by 30 participants from 10 Eastern European member states, as well as participants from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Focusing on improving regional cooperation, participants made several suggestions, including creating a common database of prohibited exporters, sharing information on company registers, having access to common technical experts on whether goods are controlled, and making contact points available to speed up information exchange. The attendees also stressed the importance of informal networks that facilitate information sharing between countries. It was also mentioned that there are legal and policy challenges that might hinder the information exchange.
During the tour of the checkpoint facilities on both sides of the border, Customs officials highlighted their daily exchange of operational information between shift commanders as a way to ensure an open communication channel at the border. Slovak officials provided insight into their inter-agency processes as well as the capabilities of the Customs Training Center. On the Ukrainian side, participants learned how cross border cooperation facilitates work on both sides. Additionally, the European Commission and EXBS Program each described their ongoing activities in the region and their intention to continue to help facilitate regional best practices and cooperation.
The participants highly appreciated the opportunity to meet their respective counterparts from the neighboring states and highlighted the importance of regular exchanges with their colleagues. All parties agreed that new ways and instruments to facilitate and enhance the cooperation on national, but also on regional level needs to be further developed in order to face the new challenges in strategic trade control.