To increase the practical level of co-operation and co-ordination between customs administrations at the external frontier of the EU, a number of contact groups have been established.
These groups are made up of the managers of the external land borders and the major ports and airports in the European Union. The objective of the contact groups is to ensure an equivalent level of control and trade facilitation for legitimate trade at the external frontier of the EU. This is done through rapid exchange of risk information between the offices concerned, the sharing of best practices and close co-operation at a practical level.
These groups are meeting at least 2 times a year with the aim of addressing any issue relevant for the ports or airports as well as promoting operational co-operation and co-ordination between the customs authorities with regard to controls at the external frontier, exchanging information necessary for better targeting of customs controls on movement of goods/vessels and planes.
RALFH is the contact group of customs managers working in the major northern ports of the EU and comprises representatives from the ports of Rotterdam (Netherlands), Antwerp (Belgium), Le Havre (France), Hamburg (Germany), Sczcecin (Poland), Leixoes (Portugal) and Bilbao (Spain).
ODYSSUD is the contact group of customs managers working in the major southern ports of the EU and comprises representatives from the ports of Barcelona (Spain), Constanta (Romania), Koper (Slovenia), Limassol (Cyprus), Marsaxlokk (Malta), Marseilles (France), Piraeus (Greece), Rijeka (Croatia), Trieste (Italy) and Varna (Bulgaria).
ICARUS is the contact group of customs managers working in the major EU airports of the EU and comprises representatives from the airports of Brussels (Belgium), Charles de Gaulle/Roissy (France), Frankfurt am Main (Germany), Heathrow (United Kingdom), Lisbon (Portugal), Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Madrid Barajas (Spain), Schiphol (Netherlands), Rome Fiumicino (Italy), Ruzyne Prague (Czech Republic),and Sofia (Bulgaria).
Land Frontier Contact Group (LFCG)
LFCG is a network of contact points (practitioners), which manages the customs situational picture across the external land frontier of the EU. The members of the network cooperate closely and share information as well as best practices on risk management and customs controls (addressing operational issues). The network also carries out test and analytical work that provides customs performance indicators and supports common policy development. It started in 2005 and has some subgroups such as the Mapping and Switzerland subgroup.
LFCG comprises representatives from the 16 countries with EU external land borders (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) and represents all approximate 250 Border Crossing Points for the different transport modes (road, rail and non-commercial).
The mandates of the above-mentioned groups are not prolonged under the new Customs Programme 2027. However, the valuable operational cooperation and information exchanges between Member States is still possible and encouraged, provided that a Member State volunteers to set up, chair and manage the group in accordance with the provisions of the new Customs Programme.