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Monday, October 16, 2006

British anti-terror cargo plan -similar to U.S. plan- troubles the EU

container ship

The UK plans to establish a new cargo security system, similar to the one the US is establishing, but some in the EU are troubled by the display of Birtish autonomy, as set out here:
The UK looks set to introduce a new cargo security regime similar to the United States' 24-hour advance manifest rule, raising fears among shippers that it will slow the free movement of goods and disrupt global supply chains.

The UK Home Office's Counter-Terrorism & Intelligence Directorate has been working closely with the UK Customs and Revenue service on a scheme that would require cargo consignment and transport data to be submitted to the authorities prior to the arrival of the cargo in the UK, according to the European Shippers' Council (ESC).

These requirements would apply to consignors, consignees, carriers and logistics service providers.

The measures, proposed for implementation by April 2007, are aimed at providing more data on the movement of goods and people in order to guard against terrorism and better detect cases of crime and fraud.

The move appears roughly modelled on the US requirement for all container carriers to provide cargo manifest data to US Customs 24 hours prior to loading at a foreign port destined for the US. Canada followed suit in April 2004.
Some shipper are concerned about shipping dealys, but more interesting is the response of European shippers:
Shippers in Europe also highlighted the potential impact on trade, raising the issue of whether the UK's actions constituted a breach of the principles of the Single European Market.
Or even the EU management:
'While it is arguable that national security is the responsibility of individual member states, it is questionable whether this proposal does not also have a Customs purpose and should therefore be dealt with within the normal EU framework for changes to Customs procedures and requirements,' ....
I like that part about how national security is arguably the "responsibility of individual member states."

Unless the EU sets up a scheme to control cargo security and has the means of enforcement, what choice do member states have?

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