Container security: EU/US agreements

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Container security: EU/US agreements

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Container security: EU/US agreements


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Industrialised countries

Container security: EU/US agreements

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2004/634/EC of 30 March 2004 concerning the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on intensifying and broadening the scope of the Agreement on customs cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters to include cooperation on container security and related matters.


The 1997 Agreement on customs cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters (CMAA) was designed to establish smooth trade relations between the European Community and the United States. To achieve the objective of the Agreement, the two parties undertook to develop customs cooperation of the widest possible scope. Article 3 of the Agreement provides for the possibility of expanding its scope by mutual consent.

On 22 April 2004, the two parties signed an Agreement which extended the scope of the 1997 Agreement. In order to cover supply-chain security of transatlantic trade, the EU and the United States would expand customs cooperation to ensure that general customs control takes due account of security concerns.

The Agreement provides for the prompt expansion of the Container Security Initiative to all ports in the Community that meet relevant requirements. It aims to improve cargo security on a reciprocal basis for both the EU and the US, whilst ensuring equal treatment of US and EU ports and operators. It also sets out a work programme for the implementation of the following measures:

  • the development of standards for risk management techniques;
  • information required to identify high-risk shipments imported by the parties;
  • industry partnership programmes.

The external coordination of customs control standards with the United States is also necessary to guarantee supply-chain security and ensure the continued flow of legitimate trade in containers. The customs authorities of the importing country work together with customs authorities involved in earlier parts of the supply chain to use timely information and inspection technology to target and screen high-risk containers before they are shipped from their ports or places of loading or transhipment in the respective countries. It is essential to ensure that all ports can participate in the Container Security Initiative on the basis of uniform principles. The adoption of comparable standards should also be promoted in US ports.

The Agreement aims to improve security on a reciprocal basis so as to ensure cooperation in the development of action in the specific areas of control for which the Community is competent. Such cooperation must also facilitate the legitimate trade of both parties.

The Member States must be able to extend the Container Security Initiative (CSI) to all Community ports in collaboration with the United States. To do so, Member States must identify the ports participating in the initiative and provide for the stationing of US customs officials in these ports or maintain the existing declarations of principle on this point in accordance with the Treaty and the extended CMAA.

In order to continue to broaden and intensify customs cooperation between the Community and the United States, cooperation between the Member States and the Community institutions is necessary. A consultation procedure has therefore been put in place whereby Member States that negotiate arrangements with the United States in the fields governed by the extended CMAA must consult the Commission and the other Member States beforehand. The purpose of these consultations is to facilitate information exchange and ensure that the agreed arrangements comply with the Treaty, common policies and the extended CMAA. If the Commission considers that an arrangement which a Member State wishes to include in cooperation with the United States does not comply, it informs the Member State concerned. Similarly, the Member State is informed when a subject has to be dealt with under the extended CMAA.

The EU-US Joint Customs Cooperation Committee is mandated with finding an appropriate form and content for documents and measures with a view to continuing to implement intensified and broadened customs cooperation under the Agreement.

The Agreement sets up a working group composed of representatives of the US customs authorities assisted by interested EU Member States. This group has the task of examining and making recommendations in, among others, the following areas:

  • defining minimum standards, in particular in view of participating in CSI, and recommending methods by which those standards may be met;
  • identifying and broadening the application of best practices concerning security controls of international trade, especially those developed under CSI;
  • defining and establishing standards for the information required to identify and control high-risk shipments imported into, transhipped through, or transiting the United States and the European Community;
  • improving and establishing standards for targeting and screening such high-risk shipments, to include information exchange, the use of automated targeting systems, and the development of minimum standards for inspection technologies and screening methodologies;
  • improving and establishing standards for industry partnership programmes designed to improve supply-chain security and facilitate legitimate trade;
  • identifying any regulatory or legislative changes that would be necessary to implement the recommendations of the Working Group;
  • considering the type of documents and measures to further implement intensified and broadened customs cooperation on the issues set out in the annex to the Agreement.

This Working Group reports regularly to the Joint Committee, the Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection and the Director-General of DG Taxation and Customs Union of the Commission.

  • On 15 November 2004, the European Community and the United States adopted, via the Joint Committee, recommendations on strengthening the security of the maritime transport of containers under the Agreement.

The adoption of these recommendations contributes to the full implementation of the EC-US Agreement on ICS. The EU-US Joint Customs Cooperation Committee suggests that the working group continue to pursue the aim of mutual recognition and reciprocity of measures and standards. It must also present the initial results of the proposed activities and other recommendations in spring 2005. The results will pave the way for comparable measures applicable to all modes of transport.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2004/634/EC 28.4.2004 OJ L 304 of 30.9.2004


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