The EU support HUB for internal security and border management of the Republic of Moldova
The operational results of the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in the Republic of Moldova were assessed on March 9-10, 2023, in the context of the European Union Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council meeting in Brussels.
According to the briefing note presented by Commissioner Ylva Johansson to the members of the EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council, the EU Support Hub, established last year, has achieved results that speak in favour of strengthening this mechanism.
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Moldova has provided relevant analytical products in the field of transnational crime, hybrid threats and risk incidents for regional and European public security. These include the first Moldovan Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) analysis provided to Europol.
After reviewing the activity report for the first six months, European officials discussed proposals for the further development of the EU Support Hub. A technical session was also held on greater involvement of the Republic of Moldova in the EU counter-terrorism mechanisms.
Ylva JOHANSSON: Good morning, everybody! I am very happy to be near together with Minister Revenco. But before coming into todays’ topic, I would like to say a few words on last night. There was a terrible attack on a church in Gross Borstel, district of Hamburg. Attacks are always despicable. But attacks on places of worship, by definition – places of peace, are truly shocking. As Chancellor Scholz has said, this is a brutal act of violence. My thoughts are with the victims and with their families and friends. I will also give a special mention to the Hamburg Police, who reacted with speed and incredible bravery, bringing people to safety. I have been in contact with the Interior Minister today, in the morning, and of course we stand ready to support in the way in might be needed.
For today, I am very happy to host the fifth meeting of the EU Support Hub for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova, today together with Ana, here in Brussels for the first time. Previous meeting took place in Chisinau. We will also have together with us today several Ministers from the MS, but also Deputy Ministers and State Secretaries, so that I am very happy that we may have this high-level meeting of the Security Hub today.
Moldova plays a key role in safeguarding Europe’s internal security. Moldova is a beneficiary of our support, but is also a provider of security to the EU and contributes to our common security.
Today we will discuss what we have achieved since the Hub was created in July 2022, during the Czech presidency. We will also discuss further solutions in the fight against crime and threats from Russia towards Moldova and the EU, and look how we move forward to make further progress.
Some of the achievements I would like to mention to you:
-Moldova has become a provider of security, working closely with our Member States, mainly via European agencies such as Europol, CEPOL and Frontex.
-We negotiated, you and I, in record time the status agreement that allows the deployment Frontex border guards.
-We now have 82 standing Corps officers for border checks and surveillance in Moldova.
-Moldova has also taken part of joint investigations in 10 high-profile human trafficking cases, involving minors and a major identity fraud case facilitating irregular migration to the EU.
-After the Hub was created last summer, Moldova participated in the EMPACT Joint Action Day, which focused on migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and related document fraud. This led to solving 2 of 3 human trafficking cases, detection of 14 out of 89 false documents and 30 million USD in cash. To name a few. So, our cooperation is really bearing fruit.
-Information exchange and operational cooperation is key, investigations leading to Moldova joining 16 operational actions coordinated by Europol.
-Our intention is to intensify our close cooperation further and this we will discuss today.
-We will discuss the roadmap of the Hub for 2023. We will focus on improving Moldova´s crisis management capacity, to early detect emerging trends and patterns of transnational crimes, hybrid threats and incidents.
-I would like to use this opportunity to thank Moldova also for welcoming refugees from Ukraine. You were one the most impacted neighbouring country of Ukraine: more than 700 000 Ukrainian refugees passed through your country.
-I am very pleased that our cooperation is making such great strides. Anything that will improve Moldova´s security will not only benefit Moldova, but will also improve the security of the European Union.
– The EU will continue to support Moldova. You can count on our continuing support. Thank you!
Ana REVENCO: Thank you, Commissioner!
Dear all, we are gathered today in an innovative format set up by the DG Home, the Justice and Home Affair Council and the Republic of Moldova – the EU Security Hub in Chisinau. It is meant to increase the all the European resilience to the threats posted by Moscow. The Russian aggression in Ukraine has definitely tough us an important valuable lesson: that together we can be stronger and we can build a sustainable future in Europe and protect democracy.
We are addressing today innovative solutions to increase efficiency in the fight against transnational crime and the hybrid war jointly with several EU MS Ministers of Internal Affairs, the law enforcement specialists from EU but also from Moldova. In this way, in this format, we are looking into defining short and medium-terms strategies design to support the Security Hub for it to become a real-time response mechanism to the trans-national criminality and hybrid war; mechanisms valuable and so much needed for Europe and the Republic of Moldova including.
Moldova is already a provider of security and we are grateful very much Commissioner, for all your support, that you trusted us and the support that we are receiving on a daily basis through such extension of knowledge, of tools and of course for the courage to look into these innovative ways that we build democracy and protect democracy here, in Europe.
Thank you very much madam Commissioner and thank you very much to my all peer colleagues from the MS who will be participating today at the Hub and who also extend their support through all the daily operations that my fellow colleagues are participating in.
Question: Which is the degree of the Russian threat to Moldova and is there a real danger Moldova could become the next Ukraine? Thank you.
Ana REVENCO: I am often asked whether Moldova is the next target and I only have one answer: the democracy and peace in Europe is the target. We are only in the second line of Russia’s aggression whereas Ukraine is courageously fighting to keep the war front far from us but we are definitely seeing and feeling, on a daily basis, the consequences and the overlapping and the complexity of the crisis and including the explosion of all possible elements and manifestations of the hybrid war. The situation in the Republic of Moldova continues to be extremely volatile; we are seeing how Moscow and interested groups and fugitive oligarchs are putting together all their efforts and resource, intended to increase the level of destabilization in the Republic of Moldova to the degree that is meant to change the democratic course in Chisinau, that would definitely influence the way we are seeing and feeling peace now in our part of Europe. Of course, all the law enforcement forces in the Republic of Moldova, along with the security and other law enforcement agencies, are working hand in hand, but the reunion that we are having today in Brussels proves once again that we can only be sustainable and address all the threats, keep and protect democracy in Europe only if unity our efforts. Technically speaking, we are seeing how the trend of cross-border criminality unfortunately is steadily increasing and that is a manifestation, anticipation that we had since the beginning of the war. Madam Commissioner referred today to a number of joint operations that we’ve, all together, put here in order to prevent and address firmly all the consequences of this war that are attempted to destabilize the peace and security in Europe. Moldova is only on the way of Russia’s intention to break this stability and, again, we can only keep it and protect it if we are united.
Ylva JOHANSSON: I fully agree what the Minister just said and I just can add that Putin is not only there to destroy Ukraine as a country, to destroy Ukrainian as people, as a culture. We should not be naive. Putin also would like to destroy, destabilize, divide European Union, and of course also Moldova. And that’s why this fight to support Ukraine is so important and to stand firm against Putin and that’s why our cooperation in the area of security is so important. We will not let Putin win!
Briefing here: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-238215
- The mission of the internal affairs system changed during the war. The exponential growth of migration, humanitarian assistance, incidents (eg false bomb alerts, missiles falling on the territories of states bordering on war, etc.), transnational crimes and hybrid threats have put and continue to put pressure on security forces. order.
- The internal affairs system has faced challenges outside of traditional policing, including measures to prevent Covid-19, social disruption caused by economic problems and inflation, humanitarian issues generated by war, and the energy crisis accompanied by ongoing social unrest. in some European countries. These actions complemented crime prevention and combating activities, which caused staff fatigue and resource wastage.
- Energy blackmail, instrumentalization of migration, sanctions and lawlessness zones generated by war are causes that affect the European continent and will get worse.
- Large volumes of drugs, arms and ammunition or other substances seized by countries should be subjected, as soon as possible, to certified laboratory tests to be used in forensics as evidence for the prosecution and conviction of war criminals , organized groups and high-profile targets. A country does not have the capacity to draft thousands of weapons that could be seized at the border. The longer the procedure takes, the less chance there is to catch the criminals and the more time they have to continue their illicit operations. Discussions are needed to understand whether it is possible to establish a European mechanism to distribute such large seizures, so that several laboratories in different countries can carry out, in parallel, such expertise.
- Eastern Europe and the EU need new formats and improved mechanisms for law enforcement cooperation, adapted to current risks and threats, in order to quickly exchange information and knowledge, to secure cross-border communication networks and systems.
Conclusions of the Eastern Forum of the Security Belt of Europe
6. Eastern Europe and the EU need new formats and improved mechanisms for law enforcement cooperation, adapted to current risks and threats, in order to quickly exchange information and knowledge, to secure cross-border communication networks and systems.
7. Traditional internal affairs organization charts and job descriptions need to be revisited. As there are multiple crisis formats, staff can no longer work in isolation and interdisciplinary interventions and mechanisms must be developed as best practices and standard operating procedures.
8. Our shared experience of hybrid and asymmetric tactics used at government level to disrupt democracies by antagonizing the population and weakening state institutions should be exposed in the EU and used as a practical example to improve the legal toolkit and cross-border cooperation.
9. The countries of the Eastern Security Belt: the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Finland, Hungary, the Republic of Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, should pay more attention and raise awareness public at the EU level on the long-lasting effects of the war, thus calling for a paradigm shift in internal affairs policies, with joint contributions and actions for and from all stakeholders, regardless of their membership or non-membership status EU.
10. Developing the EU Security Hub to become a common strategic, tactical and operational framework for rapid, secure and continuous law enforcement cooperation, including information sharing, mutual legal actions, connecting regional knowledge with technology state-of-the-art, removing barriers to investigations and evidence collection (eg language, limited capabilities).
11. The use of collective mechanisms (common tools, common databases and commonly recognized procedures) for the identification, collection and exchange of evidence, including digital, with already determined and tested tools, aimed at jointly responding to threats and incidents caused by explosions, attacks chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear.
The 4th meeting of the Security Center was dedicated to the topic of investigating the financial aspects of organized crime and the financing of terrorism. The event took place between December 6 and 7, 2022, Chisinau municipality.
Reducing the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing has been defined as a common objective that can only be achieved through the exchange of tools available for investigations, the establishment of international criminal investigation teams, the strengthening of international cooperation in the field of the exchange of financial information and evidence that facilitates actions against criminals and their assets.
The 3rd meeting of the Support HUB was focused on preventing and fighting human trafficking and illegal migration.
The event took place during the period October 20th-21st 2022, in Chisinau.
The European Commission’s request is that Moldovan specialists together with the Europol will draft, for the first time, a joint report on this phenomenon by integrating and collating data from the European Union and the Republic of Moldova.
The knowledge and bilateral contacts made during the first two meetings of the EU Support HUB have already established the basis for cross-border operations in the field of human trafficking.
During the period July-September 2022, the Ministry of Interior Affairs has made significant efforts to set up inter-institutional cooperation mechanisms in order to fulfil the tasks outlined during the first meeting of the HUB. Efforts are aimed to provide national and not sequential perspectives on different areas, with the goal to submit to the European partners – statistics, trends and phenomena, based on figures collected at national level in the field of security and not separately on each law enforcement institution.
From the EU perspective, the request was made for an increase in the volume of data and information provided to the European cooperation formats in order to integrate them into the strategic reports submitted to the Council and the European Commissions.
In this regard, the main results of the meeting of September 7th 2022 were the revitalization of inter-institutional cooperation in Moldova and the recognition by the European partners of the importance of the data provided by Moldova.
The delegation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova participated on July 11th 2022 at the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council of the EU, being the first time when the Ministers of Internal Affairs of non-EU states (Moldova and Ukraine) have been invited by the Czech Republic, as a state holding the rotating chairmanship of the EU.
During the first meeting, the consequences for internal security caused by Russian aggression against Ukraine were discussed, in particular arms and ammunition trafficking, document forgery, human trafficking, money laundering, hybrid threats, and measures to tackle and counter these risks.
The Republic of Moldova participated for the first time at an international activity – focused on the fight against organised crime on the territory of the EU countries.
The subdivisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (General Police Inspectorate, General Inspectorate of Border Police, Bureau for Migration and Asylum, General Inspectorate оf Carabineers) participated during the period October 26th -29th 2022, jointly with the Customs Service and Prosecutor’s Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Causes and with 18 other EU Member States and 10 non-EU countries, in tactical and operational actions to fight firearms, drugs, migrants and human trafficking.
16,000 officers were involved in operational activities, carrying out the operation in the main areas: the Balkans and South-East Europe.
As a result of intensified controls at the EU’s external borders, 382 arrests and 130 new criminal cases have been recorded.
In this way, the EU Member States ensured the information flow and carried out operational actions at national level.
In total, the activities led to 382 arrests of suspects, most of them involved in drug trafficking, facilitation of illegal immigration, document fraud and firearms trafficking. The arrests and evidence taken have allowed law enforcement authorities to launch 130 new investigations.
The Moldovan authorities have checked 1,147 persons, 1,383 cars, 33 homes and organisations, 1,929 postal packages. They have also detained 12 persons, identified and seized 3 weapons and 92 cartridges, launched 3 investigations (illegal migration, weapons, drugs) and detected 1,5 kg of drugs. 33 persons have been refused to enter the territory of the Republic of Moldova.
Overall results of the Joint Action Days:
74,924 people checked
998 locations checked
32,665 vehicles checked
2,004 packages checked
382 arrests: 159 (migrant trafficking), 112 (drug trafficking), 38 (arms trafficking), 2 (human trafficking), 71 (other crimes)
2,476 illegal entries detected
106 firearms: 43 guns, 42 pistols, 6 compressed air pistols, 1 anti-personnel mine, 1 air defence system, 15 grenades, 2 assembly machines, 2 anti-tank missiles and 12,250 pieces of ammunition.
Drugs: 304 kg of heroin, 103 kg of cannabis, 44 kg of marijuana, 5402 marijuana plants and 1.3 kg of cocaine.
The Concept on the establishment and functioning of the National Firearms Focal Point was approved on September 6th 2022, by Order of the GPI no. 297/2022. This activity is being carried out following the conclusions of the Support HUB’s meeting of July 2022, as well as in order to align and implement the 2020-2025 EU action plan on firearms trafficking (Brussels, COM-2020-608-F1).
This is the first result following the establishment of the EU Support HUB, which means linking to the European model, joining the platforms for expertise exchange and participating to the Joint Action Days – which take place in the same period in all the EU Member States.
The mechanism for the organisation, coordination and management of activities in the context of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) was established on July 22nd 2022, by Order 349/2022 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Thus, the National Focal Point on cross-border organised crime investigations and the National Focal Point on weapons and ammunition were nominally designated.
EMPACT is an ad hoc management environment to develop activities in order to achieve pre-set goals. It is a structured multidisciplinary co-operation platform of the relevant Member States, EU institutions and agencies, as well as third countries, international organisations and other (public and private) partners to address the prioritised threats of organised and serious international crime.
The relationship between EMPACT and the EU Support HUB for Internal Security and State Border Management consists of offering the Republic of Moldova the possibility to participate in the European policy cycle in the field of security.
Among the specific objectives of the EU Support HUB, the following should be mentioned:
- The EU Support HUB will ensure the secure exchange of actionable information (via the secure SIENA channel) with all the EU-wide law enforcement agencies;
- The Republic of Moldova will focus, via the HUB, the process of updating the Council and European Commission strategies in the field of internal affairs;
- Facilitating the accession process of the Republic of Moldova to the European Union;
- Access to the European research and documentation models;
- Extending investigative and documentary powers, thus discouraging the development of cross-border organised criminal groups;
- Inclusion of Moldovan practitioners in the networks of the European specialists; thus, the HUB contributes to increase the motivation of the staff through the recognition of professional capacities and skills;
- Inclusion of the regional perspective offered by Moldova to the European security ecosystem contributes to the updating of the EU’s high-level security policy documents;
- Increasing the EU’s level of security given that Europe’s security depends to a large extent on Moldova’s resilience.
The act to launch the EU HUB for Internal Security and Border Management of the Republic of Moldova, which operates in Chisinau, was signed on July 11th 2022, in the Czech Republic. The act was signed by DG Home, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Minister of Internal Affairs Ana Revenco.
This new body, designed to adjust the European security architecture to crisis situations, such as the one generated by the war in Ukraine, is launched just two months after Minister Ana Revenco and her team had proposed to Commissioner Ylva Johansson to establish a structure in Chisinau for strengthening the security of the European space, including the Republic of Moldova.
From this point on, the Republic of Moldova strengthens Europe’s security belt and becomes a security provider for the European area.
‘Only thanks to the intervention of Commissioner Johansson and the determination of the Czech Minister of Internal Affairs, we are succeeding today, after only two months, to set security anchors beyond the EU space. A small step for us, professionals in the field of interior affairs, but a big step for the peace and tranquility of the citizens of the whole Europe, including the citizens of the Republic of Moldova. Basically, we are together strengthening Europe’s security belt neighboring the war’, said Minister Revenco during the signing ceremony in Prague.
‘Since the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Putin’s troops on Februarie 24th, we have been working hard to support Ukraine. We have also worked to protect our joint security. Moldova is an invaluable partner in this regard. The EU Support HUB for Internal Security and Border Management in Moldova represents a big step for our joint security’, said Commissioner Johansson, thanking Minister Revenco and her team for their visionary and proactive thinking and determination to make the HUB operational in Chisinau.
Representatives of the security structures of all the EU states and European internal affairs agencies will soon work in Chisinau.
The HUB’s priority activity areas will focus on reducing the risks and threats that have been jointly identified by the EU and Moldova, including drugs, arms and human trafficking, illegal migration, radioactive trafficking and cybercrime.
The main goals of the HUB are to enhance capacities in law enforcement and border management, in particular through improved exchange of information, analysis and international operational cooperation.
The ceremony was attended, in addition to the signatories of the act, by the Czech Minister of Internal Affairs, Vít Rakušan, the Director of EUROPOL, the Director of FRONTEX and other EU and international organisation officials.
Minister of Internal Affairs Ana Revenco attended on July 11th 2022, the EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council, which is made up of justice and interior ministers from all the EU Member States. This is the first time when a minister from a non-EU state is invited to attend the JHA meeting. The Ukraine’s Minister was also invited to the JHA Council meeting on July 11th.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council is developing cooperation and common policies on various cross-border issues with the aim of building an EU wide area of freedom, security and justice. JHA members discussed for the first time the redesigning of the European security architecture by extending the European security area that would include the Republic of Moldova.
The EU Ministers of Internal Affairs discussed an innovative approach with concrete aspects of developing the European security ecosystem by launching a HUB of the JHA in Chisinau. Two months ago, the Republic of Moldova proposed to the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, to establish an EU Security HUB in Chisinau, for better security and resilience to the risks and threats caused by the war in Ukraine, a proposal that has been accepted by the EU states. With the establishment of this structure in Chisinau, the Republic of Moldova becomes a security provider for the European space, forming together with the EU member states a fortified security belt neighbouring the war.
Under the umbrella of this EU HUB in Chisinau, representatives of all EU law enforcement and judicial agencies, representatives of EU countries, of national internal affairs systems will draft, jointly with employees of the Moldovan internal affairs system, strategies to fight against arms, drugs, heritage and art, human trafficking, terrorism and other organized crime activities, which are forcing the borders of the states neighbouring the war.
The Chisinau HUB will contribute to more stability and security at our borders and a safer social climate. Also, such a body in the Republic of Moldova would allow our law enforcement institutions to have access to advanced equipment, enlarged infrastructures, access to information and better training modules for employees.
INTRO: Once the EU Security HUB is launched, European policies are to be implemented in the Republic of Moldova to support law enforcement institutions in tackling risks such as cross-border and transnational organised crime.
July 11th 2022
‘The HUB will enhance our joint operational action with Moldova to address the challenges posed by organised crime, including the trafficking of firearms or trafficking in human beings. It will also help Moldova to participate in our EU tools and instruments on internal security’ said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.
July 11th 2022
‘The EU Support HUB will serve as a gateway for the Moldovan authorities to access EU cooperation and support mechanisms and is testament to our strong commitment to an ever closer partnership’ stated European Commission vice president for Protecting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas.
July 12th 2022
President of the Republic of Moldova, Maia Sandu, welcomed the signing of the Agreement on the creation of the EU Support HUB in Chisinau, and mentioned that it will bring more stability and security in the country and in the region.
‘This is the first time the European Union opens, outside its borders, a HUB of support for internal security and border management – in the Republic of Moldova.
We are thus contributing to the consolidation and expansion of the European security area, which from now on will include our country’, noted President Maia Sandu.
July 12th 2022
‘It is certain that once the HUB is launched here in Chisinau, we will benefit of more technology, more qualitative access to real data…We will also have a more intense and qualitative exchange of data, we will have access to funds allocated for the HUB activities, and the HUB activities meaning better security for our citizens and for the European space’, said Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, Ana Revenco.
July 20th 2022
‘The launch of the EU HUB for Internal Security in Chisinau is ‘the first achievement’ after Moldova has been granted EU candidate status. This means that we will have access to valuable information, in order to be able to solve issues quickly and efficiently, without having things degrade”, said Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Grosu.
September 7th 2022
‘Security is not an abstract concept. Security is about real challenges. The HUB will focus on concrete challenges, difficulties and issues.’ pointed EU Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova, Jānis Mažeiks.
September 7th 2022
‘The security of the Republic of Moldova is also the security of the European Union. The idea of this HUB is to build a platform where experts from different force institutions will delegate experts to come to the Republic of Moldova and cooperate with local specialists’ mentioned Deputy Director-General of the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) at the European Commission, Oliver Onidi.
Februarie 6th 2023
Moldova’s prime minister, Natalia Gavrilita highlighted that the EU Support HUB in Chisinau has achieved ‘successful efforts to stop trafficking of arms and people’.