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Security cooperation with third countries

Agreements with Switzerland and with Norway in the field of customs security measures

The agreements waive the obligation for traders to provide customs with electronic information for security purposes prior to the import and export of goods in bilateral trade between Switzerland and the EU and between Norway and the EU. The agreement with Switzerland was signed on 25 June 2009 (OJ L 199 of 31 July 2009)pdf and the necessary amendments to EEA Protocol 10 with Norway were adopted on 30 June 2009 (OJ L 232 of 3 September 2009)pdf. Both agreements entered into force on 1 July 2009. The agreements are subject to the condition that Switzerland and Norway apply in their trade with third countries customs security measures that are equivalent to those applied by the EU. This implies mutual recognition of so-called Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) and of systems of risk analysis and management. The agreements aim at maintaining the existing smooth trade flows both between Switzerland and Norway with the EU while ensuring a high level of security of the supply chain.

Agreement with the United States of America on intensified customs cooperation on container security

On 22 April 2004, an agreementpdf was signed with the United States on container security within the scope of the existing EU/US customs co-operation agreement (see also Council Decision 2004/634/ECpdf and press release: IP/04/525 Choose translations of the previous link  ).

The agreement aim to improve security for both the EU and the US. It will also guarantee the right balance between trade facilitation and security by:

  • Ensuring that general customs control of legitimate trade takes due account of security concerns;
  • Creating equal levels and standards of controls for US and EU operators.

The agreement established a working group to develop the operational elements of expanded cooperation, such as minimum standards for CSI ports, common risk criteria and trade partnership programmes (see the Annex of the Agreement).

Results of EU-US cooperation

Following this 2004 agreement, two expert working groups were established with specific agendas. One group focused on furthering joint efforts in security standards, and the other focused on comparing trade partnership programmes. A series of meetings were held to identify and define programmes and activities that would achieve these objectives (see press release IP/04/1360 Choose translations of the previous link  ).

The outcome of these meetings is a list of recommendations for measures and actions that concern, amongst other things, establishing minimum standards for risk management techniques, agreed operating procedures for customs controls and CSI requirements for EU ports. For more details please have a look at this. documentpdf(1.55 Mb) Choose translations of the previous link  .

The in-depth comparison of the customs to business partnerships programmes provided a complete overview of the EU Authorised Operator Concept (AEO) and the US Customs and Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) programme. It serves as a basis for further development of standards and systems for securing and facilitating legitimate trade on both sides of the Atlantic. The developments and results of EU-US customs cooperation in this field are closely monitored by other international organisations (WCO, OSCE) and will certainly have an impact on work in international fora, such as the future work in connection with the WCO Framework of Standards (SAFE)pdf(249 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  .

In the 7th EU-US Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC) meeting in Brussels on 31 January 2006, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner, Ms Deborah Spero, and the European Commission Director General of DG Taxation and Customs Union, Mr Robert Verrue, endorsed the results of the working groups. They also agreed on the recommendations proposed by the working groups, e.g. merging both working groups into one Steering Group and developing activities to support the implementation of operating procedures and standards developed by the experts.

In the 8th EU-US JCCC meeting on 22 January 2007 in Washington, CBP Commissioner, Mr Ralph Basham, and the European Commission Director General of DG Taxation and Customs Union, Mr Robert Verrue, endorsed the results of the second phase of the EU-US customs cooperation on transatlantic supply chain security. They also agreed on focusing - in a third phase of cooperation - on three priority actions: A pilot project to test the feasibility of the CSI concept at EU feeder ports which has now concluded, Customs-Trade Partnership Initiatives and Joint Risk Rules.

At the 9th meeting of the JCCC on 6 March 2008 in Brussels, CBP Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jayson Ahern, and European Commission Director General of DG Taxation and Customs Union, Mr Robert Verrue, adopted the US-EU Joint Customs Cooperation Committee Roadmap towards Mutual Recognition of Trade Partnership Programmes.

Customs security programmes were introduced by the US and the EU in order to support the development and implementation of measures to enhance the security of the supply chain through improved customs controls. Traders who demonstrate compliant efforts to secure their part of the supply chain benefit from increased customs facilitation.

Mutual recognition arrangements allow the companies of one supply chain security programme to receive benefits similar to those conferred on companies participating in another country's programme. For more information see the press releasepdf(78 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  .

In January 2009 an abridged version of the roadmap was agreed with US Customs and Border Protection.

The purpose of this abridged version is to provide external partners, including members of the trade community, with some background on the relevant details of the roadmap and an insight into the identified and agreed tasks that must be completed in order to meet the foreseen deadline of Mutual Recognition in 2009. For more information see the abridged version of the roadmappdf(51 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  .

Cooperation on supply chain security with China

The European Union concluded an Agreement on Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters with the People's Republic of China that entered into force on 1 April 2005. On 19 September 2006, the EC and China agreed to launch a pilot project on smart and secure trade lanes, with particular emphasis on sea containers. It aims to improve cooperation on supply chain security and to work towards mutual recognition and reciprocity of security measures. The pilot project initially involves the ports of Rotterdam (NL), Felixstowe (UK) and Shenzhen (China). For more information see IP/06/1206 Choose translations of the previous link  .

As of 19 November 2007, the customs administrations of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and China exchange electronic information on sea containers leaving their territory through Rotterdam, Felixstowe and Shenzhen. This is an important step in our customs cooperation with China and paves the way for reciprocity and mutual recognition of security measures. This step took place in close cooperation with the European Commission in the framework of the secure and smart trade lanes pilot project.

Both sides agreed to exchange experience and develop best practices in order to better understand and prepare the implementation of the WCO Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade. They also agreed to pursue the objectives of reciprocity and mutual recognition of measures for security and facilitation to be implemented between the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China and the customs authorities of the European Union.

In the short term the Smart and Secure Trade Lane Pilot Project will allow:

  • The testing of end-to-end supply chains from the point of packing containers, through the entire container journey, to the point of final destination;
  • Agreement on and testing of criteria for economic operators to be granted authorised economic operator (AEO) status;
  • Agreement on and testing of data requirements for pre-loading security clearance for "door to door" supply chains;
  • The definition of and agreement on minimum risk rule set (profiles) and minimum control standards for customs clearance;
  • The testing and evaluating of IT and technical solutions that enhance security and control systems while facilitating legitimate trade.
  • Comparison of equivalent AEO legislation in order to prepare the ground for mutual AEO recognition between the EU and China.

The evaluation of the first phase of the pilot project has been launched in spring 2009 and should be finalised by the end of the year.

Cooperation with Japan on mutual recognition of security measures and AEO

The EU-Japan Joint Customs Cooperation Committee established an expert dialogue on AEOs at its first meeting, held in Brussels on 11 February 2008.

This dialogue brings together AEO experts from the EU and Japan to conduct an in-depth comparison of their respective AEO programmes. This analysis includes both legislative aspects and implementation, with the aim of preparing for an eventual mutual recognition of AEOs under the EU-Japan Customs Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement.

Achieving mutual recognition of AEO programmes between the EU and Japan would facilitate trade and EU exports and also increase end-to-end supply chain security.