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GT Alert

New European Union Regulation to Improve Security and Safety of Goods Crossing EU Borders

March 2005

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On February 23, 2005 the European Parliament approved a Regulation amending the European Union (“EU”) customs code in order to improve the security and safety related to goods crossing the EU borders. The Regulation is an EU response to the global concern about protecting the international supply chain from terrorism and will have an influence for all companies that play a role in the international supply chain. The Regulation will enter into force once the Presidents of the Council and Parliament sign the text. The necessary implementing provisions that will arrange for the measures to become effective will be published as soon as possible.

Although all EU Member States are currently very active in the fight to prevent dangerous or defective goods from entering the EU, the measures applied, the priorities and the investment in equipment and resources differ from one Member State to another. In order to realize an EU approach to new and existing threats, the introduction of new rules to meet international concerns about security will take place via a common EU approach and not by way of bilateral agreements between third countries and individual Member States. With the new Regulation, security and safety controls by means of the Regulation will be harmonized throughout the EU.

The Regulation includes a number of measures to tighten security around goods crossing international borders. Amongst others a Community-wide computerized system for risk management is introduced. In addition, new rules for the electronic exchange of information between customs offices on the movements of goods are established and, similar to the current practice in the U.S., traders will be required to provide the customs authorities with information on the transported products prior to their import into or export from the EU.

Briefly summarized, the main consequences of the new Regulation are:

  • Introduction of electronic information exchange between customs administrations;
  • Rationalization of customs controls, concentrating the controls relating to safety and security alone at the place of entry or exit of goods into the Community, while transferring the controls concerning fiscal matters to the place where the trader is established;
  • Traders will be required to provide customs authorities with information on goods before they are imported into or exported from the European Union, via electronic summary declarations;
  • Reliable traders will be provided with special, user-friendly options; and
  • Introduction of risk selection criteria that will apply throughout the Community and that will be supported by a coordinated computerized system.

With the implementation of the new Regulation, the European authorities aim to establish a Community wide system of faster and more focused customs controls that will benefit not only the customs authorities, but also the public and the (legitimate) traders. One of the main goals of the new Regulation is to speed up border processing for legitimate traders.

Provided specific conditions are met, companies can obtain the status of “authorized economic operator” which will allow for special treatment and simplification of administrative compliance obligations. If a company obtains the authorized economic operator status, the simplifications and special treatments will have to be applied by all EU Member States.

The new EU Regulation will have an impact on all companies working in the international supply chain that do business with the EU. Companies involved in EU trade are recommended to investigate the consequences for their business and to take appropriate actions to ensure the status of authorized economic operator will be obtained.


This Alert was written by Erik de Bie and Erik Zietse, in the Amsterdam office. Please contact Mr. de Bie at +31 (0) 20 301 73 15, Mr. Zietse +31 (0) 20 301 74 05 or your Greenberg Traurig liaison if you have any questions regarding the subject matter of this Alert.

© 2005 Greenberg Traurig

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