International trade is an indispensable feature of today’s world. All trade relies on the so called supply chain which describes the movement of goods from their original source to the end user.
Supply chain consists of a variety of parties, such as manufacturers and retailers, who are all handling large volumes of goods, possessing different information and whose timely performance is critical to the smooth functioning of the supply chain. Transport plays a crucial role in this regard as it allows people to move and goods to circulate, and therefore links the different actors in the supply chain.
Along with increased international trade, supply chain has grown in length and volume. The events of 11 September 2001 and the following terrorist attacks have raised awareness of the vulnerability of supply chain and underlined the extent of damages a disruption to supply chain can produce.
Supply chain security has consequently grown in importance. It includes several elements such as transport, border control, customs, logistics, law enforcement, ICT technologies and fight against terrorism. The main challenge is to create security measures, which ensure the safe trade, but which do not significantly slow the functioning of the supply chain.
The European Commission has taken a number of important initiatives with the aim to strengthen supply chain security:
- The Customs Security Programme (CSP) introduces new security controls and seeks to ensure the protection of the internal market through the close cooperation with other major trading partners. The CSP was initially created to implement security measures introduced to update the Community Customs Code (CCC) in 2005 (Regulation (EC) n° 648/2005 of 13 April 2005).
- Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) is a trade facilitation measure provided to reliable traders. Since 2008 each Member State has been allowed to grant the AEO-status to any economic operator that meets certain criteria relating to the operators' control systems, finances and compliance record. The AEO-status granted by one Member State is recognized by all the others.
- Harmonized Threat and Risk Assessment (TRA) Methodology was introduced in 2007 with the objective of achieving an equivalent level of security for customs inspections.
- The rules for advance notification of exports, imports and transit traffic (Regulation 1875/2006) requires companies to provide information in advance on both goods that shall be imported to and exported from the EU, and on goods in transit.
The latest European Commission (EOS) document analysing security gaps of the supply chain has been published and can be accessed here.
CORTE activities in supply chain include the SAFEPOST project.