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Customs: strengthening the security of the supply chain

The Commission adopted yesterday a Communication on Customs Risk Management and the Security of the Supply Chain. It sets out a strategy to enable customs to better tackle risks associated with goods being traded in international supply chains. It involves more rational use of resources, better quality and availability of trade data, and deeper partnership with trade and international partners. This proposed new EU approach will supplement national work by integrating a wider scope of information and intelligence from many sources.

Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs Union, Anti-Fraud and Audit, said:

"Security is a top priority for EU customs. They have to remain Europe's leading authority to stop dangerous goods from crossing EU borders and keeping European citizens safe. However, the nature of security threats and risks has become more complex in recent years, which is why today I am recommending to Member States new ways forward to better deal with customs risks in future."

EU external trade grew by almost 50 % between 2004 and 2010. Although the majority of trade is legal, illicit trade is estimated at almost 10 % of the global economy (see study by World Economic Forum). With global trade on the rise, the challenge to stop a bomb, contaminated food or smuggled goods is becoming increasingly complex.

The current set-up to deal with risks at the EU borders doesn't uniformly address security and safety risks across the external border. To better ensure the security, health and well-being of citizens as well as legal trade and the economic and financial interests of the EU, the Commission proposes a number of key actions:

  • Traders should make quality data available at the right time, in the right place for effective risk management;

  • Deeper engagement with companies moving goods across borders;

  • Ensuring homogeneous implementation of risk management throughout the external EU borders; considering the creation of a risk management capacity at EU level to complement Member State efforts;

  • More structured and systematic cooperation between customs and other authorities;

  • Increased international cooperation with the EU's main trading partners.


The EU is at the centre of global trade and supply chain logistics. In 2011, EU customs processed nearly 300 million customs declarations; this represents an average of 8.9 declarations per second handled by the Member States’ customs administrations. More than 90 % of global trade (8.4 billion tons of merchandise) is carried annually by sea along more than 25 000 global trade lanes. More than 20 % of this shipped cargo is unloaded in Europe.

An amendment of the EU Customs Code in 2005 provided for the development of common rules for customs risk management (see IP/05/209). This common framework sets out common criteria to identify risks, common conditions for trusted traders known as 'Authorised Economic Operators' (AEO) (see European Customs Information portal), and pre-arrival/pre-departure security risk analysis based on electronically submitted cargo information. The assessment of the implementation of this legislation has shown that further steps are necessary to address security and safety hazards at the EU borders adequately.

The Communication on Customs Risk Management and Security of the Supply Chain can be found on:

For Commissioner Semeta's website see:

Contacts :

Emer Traynor (+32 2 292 15 48)

Natasja Bohez Rubiano (+32 2 296 64 70)

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