Customs Service Commissioner Issues Statement Regarding EU

Monday, December 23, 2002
The European Commission issued a statement in Brussels, saying that the Commission had started infringement proceedings against four member states for signing agreements with the United States to implement the Container Security Initiative. It is regrettable that at a time of heightened concern for potential terrorist activity, the European Commission has chosen to take action against its member states for participating in the Container Security Initiative (CSI). CSI is the only formal program in operation today that is designed to both detect and deter terrorists from exploiting the vulnerabilities of containerized cargo. This is an issue of national security. These member states have undertaken this initiative to help protect the global trading system from acts of terrorism. The U.S. Customs Service is sensitive to the European Commission's concerns that CSI may cause some trade distortions. There is no evidence, however, that CSI has caused any trade distortions. None-the-less, to address the concern of the EC, U.S. Customs is expanding CSI to all European ports that ship significant numbers of containers to the United States, by implementing CSI at 11 additional European ports. These ports, in addition to those where CSI is already implemented, or in the process of being implemented, will represent nearly 100% of all containerized cargo shipped from Europe to the United States. CSI is a program that has been supported by the World Customs Organization and by the G-8. It has been widely accepted world wide as an important program to protect the vital economic pipeline between trading nations of the world. Currently, European and Asian countries representing seventeen of the top twenty ports that ship containers to the United States, have agreed to participate in CSI.
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