Strengthening the fight against smugglers in the Mediterranean region is the objective of an international conference taking place in Tangiers (Morocco) between 2 and 5 November 2008 focusing on "Mutual Administrative Assistance in customs matters within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership". The conference is organized jointly by the General Directorate of Customs and Indirect Taxation of the French Republic, the Customs and Indirect Tax Authority of the Kingdom of Morocco and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
From the perspective of the completion of the transitional period aimed at countries of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (The Barcelona Process) entering into a free trade area with the European Union from 2010, it is necessary to ensure that legitimate trade will not be disadvantaged by fraudulent or irregular practices committed by unscrupulous trading partners or international fraud schemes. Such fraudulent practices could also lead to financial losses for the countries concerned or for the EU or constitute a threat for public health or safety.
The increase in trade flows in particular those linked with the establishment of this free trade area for industrial products as well as the development of new port and airport infrastructures in the Mediterranean Region, both argue in favour of putting into place a basis for regular and structured cooperation between all the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea with a view to implementing even more effectively the existing legal instruments for mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.
Experience has shown that the required objectives and procedures are sometimes difficult to implement in practice. This is why, at the instigation of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, the European Commission (OLAF) and the Kingdom of Morocco, customs experts from EU Member States as well as from countries involved in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (The Barcelona Process) and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, are attending this Conference in order to consider ways of strengthening cooperation at the operational level and to discuss important technical issues aimed at better protecting the Mediterranean region against illegal trading and smuggling. The participants will be discussing, inter alia, the security of the international logistics chain, the secure exchange of information between customs authorities of the EU and of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and plans to conduct joint operational activities.
The conference will also address the question of how to raise the awareness of the general public for the risks customs fraud poses to citizens. The experience of the OLAF Anti-Fraud Communicators’ Network (OAFCN) and its partnership with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) will be shared.
 The Barcelona Process, launched in 1995, formed an innovative alliance based on the principles of joint ownership, dialogue and co-operation. It brings together the 27 Members of the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean states.
 Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro