Ukraine-Moldova border: EU to take part in monitoring mission aimed to stop smuggling

The European Union will send monitors to Moldova's frontier with Ukraine to help combat rampant smuggling, the EU executive Commission said Tuesday.

The Ђ7 million (US$8.35 million) mission "will improve stability and security on Europe's borders," said EU foreign affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner ahead of her departure for Moldova on Thursday.

The EU will send 50 border guards and customs officials to advise and train local officials on both sides of the border in surveillance of goods, plus a central team of 15 people.

The mission is expected to start work on Dec. 1 with an initial two-year mandate, the Ap reports.

Ukraine borders Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region, which has become a major hub for smuggling, officials said.

Critics of the separatist authorities say Trans-Dniester has become a center for organized crime, including smuggling in drugs, arms, illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods. AM

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