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Customs: the European Commission proposes a waiver for customs security checks between the EU and Switzerland.

European Commission - IP/09/449   20/03/2009

Other available languages: FR DE

IP/09/449

Brussels, 20 March 2009

Customs: the European Commission proposes a waiver for customs security checks between the EU and Switzerland.

The European Commission today adopted a proposal for a Council Decision to extend the scope of application of the 1990 customs agreement between the EU and Switzerland in order to bring it in line with the new EC security measures on goods transport. The proposed agreement will waive the obligation for traders to provide customs with advance electronic information for security purposes in the bilateral trade between Switzerland and the EU. Meanwhile, in trade with third countries, Switzerland will implement customs security measures equivalent to those in the EU. This will ensure both smooth trade flows between Switzerland and the EU and a high level of security in the supply chain. The proposal needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers and by the Swiss Federal Council before signature, which is expected by 1 July 2009.

László Kovács, the Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs said: "The Commission proposal underlines the special bilateral trade relations between the EU and Switzerland and the strong mutual interest that exists in implementing equivalent customs security measures. The agreement amounts to full mutual recognition between the EU and Switzerland of customs security controls and thereby to an effective extension of the EU customs security area."

In order to increase security in the international trade of goods, the EU introduced new measures in 2006 designed to ensure higher standards in customs controls (IP/06/1821). These include rules and time limits for traders on the submission of information on goods before they are imported to or exported from the EU (electronic entry and exit declarations); an EU system of risk analysis and management; and a system to facilitate EU Authorised Economic Operators (AEOs).

Due to the special geographical situation of Switzerland in the midst of the European Union and its high volume of trade with the EU, the Commission proposes that the EU and Switzerland implement equivalent customs security standards and checks. This allows the obligation to provide advance information on goods traded between the EU and Switzerland to be waived.

For trade with third countries, Switzerland will apply customs security measures in line with the customs legislation in force in the EU. Goods entering Switzerland from third countries (or exiting to third countries) will have to meet the advance entry or exit declaration requirements and equivalent security controls that they do when crossing the EU external border. Switzerland will also apply the EU security standards for AEOs.

The EU and Switzerland will also recognize the equivalence of each others' risk management systems and will work towards a common framework for risk management, including the exchange of risk-related information as appropriate.

The agreement proposed today is foreseen to enter into force on 1 July 2009.

Background

In recent years, an average of 23.000 lorries and 4.400 train wagons per day have crossed the borders between Switzerland and its EU neighbours Germany, Italy, Austria and France. In 2007, a total of 1.026.900 lorries used the border crossing at Basel/Weil-Autoroute, one of the most important customs offices at the Swiss/German border. Some 1200-2000 lorries crossed the border every day in the North-South direction and some 1900-3000 lorries in the opposite direction. This involved 402.400 customs declarations at import, 492.500 export declarations and 685.600 transit operations. In addition to the traffic of goods, the traffic of passengers represented that year a total volume of 11 million cars, i.e. 31.000 vehicles per day or one vehicle every 3 seconds.

Further information on the proposed agreement can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/legislation/proposals/customs/index_en.htm

Further information on the security aspects of the Customs Code can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/customs/policy_issues/customs_security/index_en.htm


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