EU Proposes Tighter Customs Regulations
The move is spurred by US concerns over port security
BRUSSELS - The European Commission has proposed a tightening of EU-wide Customs rules to boost security at ports in response to US concern, reports Dow Jones.
The proposals, which still must be approved by national governments, call for traders to give Customs officials a list of the contents of their containers a day in advance of leaving port. At the moment, customs rules vary from country to country.
After the 9 /11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, the US imposed strict security rules on shipping, including a requirement that ports provide comprehensive details of containers a day before a vessel departs for a US port.
Since then, the two sides have tussled over container security.
The US created the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and struck bilateral security deals with several European countries with large ports, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. Cargo from these ports has clearance before it enters the US and reaches its destination faster.
But the EU Commission sued the governments with bilateral deals before the European Court of Justice, arguing the agreements "distort trade." When EU countries that had signed on to the CSI agreed the Commission could pursue a single EU-wide deal, it dropped its case.
Stefan Wengler, a Customs expert at the German Foreign Trade Association, told Dow Jones that the latest plans "are designed to mimic the US rules."
Still, he said, "striking a final deal with the Americans might be complicated because the EU's 24-hour information requirement will slow shipments from European ports."
In many cases "the new rules wouldn't be practical," Wengler said. "Some companies can supply the information, but many can't. For express carriers, it's impossible."
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