In order to better protect and oversee shipments coming into and out of the European Union, the European Commission recently proposed that a new set of guidelines be enacted to streamline data sharing initiatives and oversight for imports and exports in all member states.
As the amount of trade occurring between EU member states and non-European nations rises, the need for a universal import and export governance system becomes more vital. The World Economic Forum reported that non-continental trading increased 50 percent between 2004 and 2010, and 10 percent of that activity is unregulated, according to the EC. Although illicit trading presents security and compliance risks for the entire European Union, oversight and regulation is left up to the individual member states.
While 10 percent of trading being illegal may not seem significant, it represents a large amount of incoming cargo considering the scale at which goods enter the EU. The EC reported that customs officials handled 300 million import declarations in 2011, and 20 percent of 8.4 billions tons of merchandise transported along sea routes each year is unloaded in European ports.
"Security is a top priority for EU customs," Algirdas Šemeta, commissioner for Taxation, Customs Union, Anti-Fraud and Audit, said in a recent statement. "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."
To better prevent security threats, illicit goods and contaminated food from entering the EU, the EC proposed a new set of guidelines by which all EU member states would have to abide:
Greater cooperation and data gathering between customs officials, companies, non-European nations and other parties involved in shipping goods into and out of the European Union
The creation of one set risk management standards to be implemented across the EU and the establishment of an agency to oversee and regulate imports and exports
Bylaws requiring trading partners to use data collection tools that allow customs officials to have real-time information about all imports and exports
"It is critical for government and businesses to work together to understand risks to supply chain and transport networks, and develop new solutions and best practices for risk management," Kevin Wong, executive director of Logistics and Professional Services for the Singapore Economic Development Board, said in a 2012 WEF report. "Organizations have a great opportunity to increase the resilience of global networks, and key players within the public and private sectors must move collaboratively towards a new model of supply chain risk management."