To maintain the obligatory high international standards in the realm of combating fraud and to pursue the national ambition of enhanced combating of fraud, the customs offices and their executive bodies need to implement risk-oriented mobile monitoring and control measures.
Thousands of transportation vehicles transport persons and goods on a daily basis to, through and within Austria and the entire European Union. The abolition of customs controls directly at the borders to the new Member States, the lack of harmonisation in terms of consumer tax rates, the differing rules concerning prohibitions and restrictions with regard to the possession, introduction or use of goods in cross-border traffic mean that particular strategies are needed in order to ensure deployment of existing control resources in accordance with the risks present.
This activity is undertaken by appropriately-trained employees (mobile units), who wear an identifiable uniform, and of whom some are armed. The duties for the protection of the population and the Austrian economy, as well as national and European financial interests which are to be performed, encompass the following:
- Combating smuggling (cigarettes)
- Consumer tax controls (alcohol, mineral oil)
- Prohibitions and restrictions (product forgeries, weapons and war material, medicines, drugs, etc.)
- Species protection of flora and fauna
The staff of the mobile units must generate risk analyses and risk profiles based on their own empirically-established figures and also national as well as international trends. Primarily, the operational control units have the following tasks:
- Conduct of risk- and success-based focal actions both in moving goods and/or passenger traffic and in static locations
- Control of goods from third countries, selecting focal points of action
- Selection of vehicles and means of transport of all types and the goods carried by them for detailed examination
- Processing of the criminal cases thereby arising
- Control of goods in the tax territory subject to consumer tax
- Assistance in focal actions and projected measures in combating tax and customs fraud
This work is carried out near the border and in the rest of the Austrian territory on both a mobile and static basis. Service vehicles with blue lights, sirens and office equipment, three mobile LGV scanners, an X-ray vehicle and sniffer dogs for tobacco, species protection, drugs and money are available to staff to assist them in their work. This overview of the work to be accomplished reveals what an important role customs services still have to fulfil even during times of open borders.