In spite of the fact that the EU is eliminating its internal borders, it also needs to help consolidate and secure 5,000 km of internal borders in the Western Balkans, said Maarten B. Engwirda, a member of the European Court of Auditors.
Engwirda made the comments after presenting the 2009 annual report on "the effectiveness of the European Commission's projects in the area of Justice and Home Affairs in the Western Balkans".
Asked by EurActiv to explain the paradox of investing money in borders that would become irrelevant should those countries join the Union, Engwirda said the effort was needed to counter criminality in the region.
"It's necessary for the moment, because of the risks of human trafficking, drug trafficking, etc. The borders should be secure, that's one of the main aims of the Commission. Indeed, if you look in the further future, you can ask yourself, if all those countries are going to join the EU, then there will be no borders. But this could take a while, and for the moment, it's extremely important that those borders are secure," Engwirda said.
The Court of Auditors official added that the court's only recommendation regarding border management programmes is that those selected for financing should not be part of national projects for the countries concerned, but rather of joint, regional programmes.
"There is simply not enough money in the EU coffers to finance all the crossing points," he said.
The Court of Auditors report listed the EU-sponsored projects in Justice and Home Affairs, country by country, evaluating them as "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory". The greatest number of "unsatisfactory" projects was in Albania (7 out of 8). Bosnia and Herzegovina follows with four such projects out of 10.
The Court of Auditors team explained that most of the time the unsuccessful projects are unsustainable, meaning that they would cease to exist if there was no external financing for them.