Security Partnerships Guarantee Security and Efficiency


Customs procedures at the borders ensure the protection of citizens, the economy, and the state. As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, these controls were significantly tightened. Since then, states have focused on greater security in the supply chain. The Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs) is an important tool to ensure high standards of security while at the same time customs clearance is accelerated. But more needs to be done to realize the full potential of the AEOs.

Companies are important partners in the EU’s efforts to improve security. No one knows the products better than they do. They alone control the products before they cross the border. The EU’s security partnerships are an important tool to work with industry to guarantee a high level of security while reducing administrative burdens.

High Security - Less Administrative Effort - Faster Procedures 

In order to obtain Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status, companies must meet a number of EU-wide requirements. These include, for example, compliance with customs regulations, proof of solvency, proper accounting and the introduction and observance of adequate security standards. If these conditions are met, the company will be granted certain facilitations in customs clearance.

However, the programme still has significant deficits. For example, the AEO programme has not yet been implemented for all parts of customs. In the import procedure, for example, there is still no real exemption from presentation and accelerated customs clearance. In addition, there is no reduced reporting data requirement for the exit summary declaration – a necessary prerequisite for real trade facilitation. Even within the framework of the new EU customs legislation, it is becoming apparent that the Union Customs Code will hardly bring any real simplifications to the AEO. This is regrettable. Instead, the security partnerships should be strengthened and genuine facilitations granted to importers.

Mutual Recognition of Customs Partnerships 

The EU should also promote the mutual recognition of customs security partnerships with central trading partners, provided that the respective security partnerships provide a comparable level of security. One example is the Decision on the Mutual Recognition of Trade Partnership Programs between the EU and the United States. Such partnerships can facilitate trade significantly between the EU and the relevant partners. The prerequisite, however, is that the AEO programme is actually used in the EU and that it is endowed with real benefits. The EU needs to make further improvements in this area.