General air cargo security regime
The rules consist of a general basic security regime with air carriers transporting cargo into the EU will have to comply. The main elements thereof are that every air carrier with the intention to carry cargo into the EU must commit to following a security programme that covers security at the airports located outside the EU from which it operates. Also, the air carrier must include in its security programme details of the security controls implemented by its business partners from which it directly receives cargo at those located in third countries. The air carrier is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate security controls are applied to all cargo and mail it ships into the EU.
The EU rules require any air carrier transporting air cargo or mail to the EU to be designated by an EU Member State as an 'Air Cargo or Mail Carrier operating into the Union from a Third Country Airport' (ACC3). To obtain ACC3 status the air carrier has to deliver a 'Declaration of Commitments' concerning the fulfillment of their aviation security responsibilities to the civil aviation authorities of an EU Member State for every non-EU airport from which carriers cargo or mail into the EU. The template for the 'Declaration of Commitments' is laid down by EU law.
ACC3s must ensure that all cargo and mail carried to the EU is screened or comes from a secure supply chain. Until 30 June 2014, as a minimum, the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) apply. Thereafter, specific minimum security controls must be applied which correspond to today's understanding how cargo can be secured. The EU will seek to have those controls adopted as ICAO global practice.
From 1 July 2014, the EU additionally requires that ACC3s ensure that an on-site verification of its cargo and mail operations at the relevant non-EU airports has been carried out by an EU aviation security validator. Also, the business partners from whom the ACC3 receives cargo or mail at those airports located in non-EU countries need to be EU aviation security validated.
The ACC3 requirements are waived for cargo operations from origins with confirmed equivalent aviation security measures and with an established low risk, as identified through an EU Risk Assessment. At the same time, additional rules apply to cargo and mail that has been identified, again though an EU Risk Assessment, as high risk-cargo and mail.
Mutual recognition of the EU and U.S. air cargo security regime
The mutual recognition of the EU and U.S. air cargo security regime, which is effective since 1 June 2012, eliminates duplication of security controls that were due to differences between EU and U.S. responsibilities in particular for cargo transported from EU airports to the United States. Air carriers are no longer required to apply different physical screening measures to ensure the absence of items prohibited. A full application of EU aviation security requirements is sufficient for these air carriers to clear cargo for cargo for transatlantic flights. Vice-versa no additional controls are required for air cargo leaving U.S. airports towards Europe. Depending on the carrier's profile, security measures may account for up to 4% of turnover and the additional cost of duplicate transatlantic measures can account for one-fifth of the security costs. Mutual recognition, by a conservative estimate, saves several tens of millions of euros per year in the EU alone, without any negative impact on security.