EIBM’s Grand Vision & motivation for CONNECTOR project

In a world where borders play a pivotal role in maintaining security and facilitating the smooth movement of goods, an innovative project known as CONNECTOR – CustOms exteNded iNteroperablE Common informaTiOn shaRing environment has emerged on the horizon.

This groundbreaking R&D initiative funded by the European Union, under the HORIZON EUROPE programme is set to redefine maritime systems and foster collaboration among European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) authorities, promising a brighter and more secure future for the Schengen area and beyond.
The concept of European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) is a grand vision aimed at striking a delicate balance between managing external borders effectively and keeping them as open as possible for legal travelers and goods. The challenge is clear: enhancing security without stifling the flow of people and goods.

At the heart of this vision lies the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE). CISE is an essential framework that facilitates seamless communication and information exchange among various maritime authorities, including but not limited to EIBM. Customs, European Border and Coast Guards Authorities, including FRONTEX, are central to achieving this vision. However, there are significant hurdles.

Interoperability issues have plagued Customs and Border Security IT systems, making it challenging to share information and coordinate effectively. Furthermore, a lack of harmonized risk assessment and management systems among not only customs administrations but also IBM authorities overall, has exacerbated the situation.

A Visionary Approach
CONNECTOR has risen to meet these challenges and usher in a new era of cooperation. This groundbreaking project aims to contribute to the European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) and the EU Customs Action Plan. CONNECTOR envisions a world where Customs, Border, and Coast Guard Authorities work hand in hand through the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) network, which assures the information exchange among the maritime authorities, and the Enhanced Common Information Sharing Environment (e-CISE), which assures the information exchange among Land and Maritime Border Authorities, via the proposed Customs Extended Common Information Sharing Environment (CE-CISE). The realization of this envisaged approach will be done through the fulfillment of the main objectives of the project below.

CONNECTOR will develop the CE-CISE model and associated entities to ensure seamless communication among EIBM authorities and interoperability with the latest Customs IT systems, in line with EU Customs (EUCDM) and World Customs Organization (WCO) Data Models.

The project will identify common risk indicators for Customs and Border & Coast Guard Authorities and create sophisticated risk assessment tools to strengthen the shared IBM risk assessment mechanism.

CONNECTOR will revolutionize situational awareness for Customs and Border & Coast Guard Authorities with Decision Support Systems utilizing Risk Assessment tools, Natural Language Processing features (NLP), Data Fusion, Digital Twin features and the necessary Data Lakes for storing and processing the huge amount of data. This will enable better prevention and responses to cross-border crimes.

The project will offer dedicated Command and Control System Instances dedicated to each end-user group, ensuring compatibility with the Customs Extended CISE Model and seamless interoperability.

The Real Test
To ensure the effectiveness of the CONNECTOR platform, the project will conduct a series of rigorous trials. These trials are categorized into three distinct phases, each tailored to specific testing environments and principles.

In the National test case, the testing environment primarily focuses on the maritime sector, specifically the high seas within the EU and Schengen regions. The testing principles revolve around short-scale scenarios, with preliminary testing conducted in the maritime environment, in Spain.

The Cross-border phase delves into a land environment, specifically in non-EU and non-Schengen regions, while also involving EU non-Schengen country. Similar to the National phase, the testing principles encompass short-scale scenarios, with a primary focus on testing in a land environment between Romania and Republic of Moldova borderline. This phase will be considered as feasibility studies to facilitate information exchange between EU and non-EU authorities through the CE-CISE interoperability layer.

In the Transnational phase, the testing environment becomes multifaceted, spanning both maritime and land areas. The scenario is on a larger scale and involves testing in both land and maritime settings. Information exchange will be a complex task involving seven IBM authorities, encompassing both EU and non-EU entities, and conducted through the CE-CISE interoperability layer. The critical goals of this phase are to establish a common situational picture, shared risk assessment, and a comprehensive Decision Support System for all participating IBM authorities.

CONNECTOR invites stakeholders in the European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) domain to join the CONNECTOR Stakeholders Group (SG). Participation is open to relevant authorities at no cost; for further information, please contact us via the contact form on our website. As a member, you can influence solutions, access updates, network with peers, engage in pilot activities and contribute to policy influence.