Customs-Police cooperation highlighted at Europol meeting

27 September 2018

At the invitation of Europol, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited The Hague, Netherlands to attend the Joint Session of the European Directors General of Customs Administrations and Chiefs of Police, held at Europol headquarters on 26 September 2018.

During the Session, Dr. Mikuriya shared some of the WCO’s priorities requiring closer Customs-Police cooperation.  He referred firstly to cross-border e-commerce, the subject of a Framework of Standards developed by the WCO at its most recent Council sessions.  One of these standards recommended the provision of advance data by businesses for risk assessment purposes.  Given the huge amount of data available, intelligence sharing by the Police would greatly help Customs in improving risk profiling to combat illicit trade. 

Secondly, the security initiative by Customs on controlling goods, passengers and money, stemming from the Punta Cana Resolution issued in 2015, would be significantly enhanced through joint actions with the Police. 

Thirdly, the G20 initiative on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) was closely related to trade-based money laundering and bulk cash smuggling.  When finalizing its study report on IFFs for the G20, the WCO had placed emphasis on tackling this issue together with the Police and other relevant authorities.

Dr. Mikuriya then turned to the Customs-Police Cooperation Handbook, a joint publication released by Interpol and the WCO in March 2018.  He mentioned the need to establish common understanding, respect and trust as regards the respective goals, plans and responsibilities, as well as a well-defined structure. 

He went on to list several practical measures, such as signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), organizing joint actions, establishing liaison offices, and joint training and exchanges of personnel.  As the WCO had concluded MoUs with both INTERPOL and Europol and had also established liaison offices, Dr. Mikuriya hoped to see best practices emerge at national level.

In parallel with the Europol meeting, Secretary General Mikuriya had a bilateral meeting with the newly appointed Executive Director of Europol, Ms. Catherine De Bolle, on cooperation between the two Organizations.  They agreed on the installation of Europol’s SIENA system of information exchange at the WCO Secretariat in early 2019.  They also agreed on harnessing their shared interest in fighting wildlife and cultural heritage crime as potential areas for joint actions.