The traditional CEFTA Week will be held in Brussels this year, with the central Conference “CEFTA: A stepping stone towards the EU Single Market”, to be held on Friday, 9 December. On margins of the Conference the customs administrations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Montenegro will sign Memorandum of Understanding, further expending the CEFTA-TCT Green Corridors with the European Union.
The expansion of the initiative towards EU Member States began in July this year with the establishment of the electronic exchange of data between North Macedonia and Greece, and continued in September with establishment of Blue Lanes between Albania, Montenegro and Italy. The initiative enables speeding up customs procedures and other formalities at crossings and facilitates CEFTA export, as the SEED+ system connects the customs administrations of the CEFTA Parties and the European Union.
Director of the CEFTA Secretariat, Emir Djikic, recalled the key benefits of the SEED solution – flexibility and adaptability to the needs of the customs administrations that use it in order to reduce formalities when transporting goods.
“In addition to reducing waiting times at crossings, effectively facilitating transport and trade and reducing waiting times, businesses now get new opportunities to make better use of integrated supply chains with the EU market. All these are great and lasting benefits for the people of the Western Balkans and trade flows from the CEFTA region towards the EU,” said Djikic.
“The Green corridors, as an important tool supporting smooth and efficient trade and transport integration of CEFTA Parties with neighbouring EU countries, proven to have a significant potential for cooperation between customs agencies. In this view, the Memorandum of Understanding will provide us with necessary instrument for further facilitation of legitimate trade, ensuring its safety and security and reducing illegal trade. In parallel, it will further deepen our customs cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, fully in line with EU customs legislation.” said Mario Demirovic, Director Customs administration of Croatia.
“It is my pleasure signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on electronic data exchange between the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro and the Customs Administration of the Republic of Croatia within initiative to expand Green lanes between Montenegro and Croatia. Signing of this memorandum aims at strengthening the partner network, reducing customs fraud, speeding up customs procedures at the border itself, as well as simplifying and facilitating road traffic between our two countries.
By signing this memorandum, as well as the previously signed memorandum with Italian Excise, Customs and Monopolies Agency, on September 9, 2022, the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro has made its full contribution to the cooperation between the customs services whose main task and mission is to ensure the necessary balance between the protection of society, on the one hand and trade facilitation, on the other hand. We hope that after, phase 1 of unilateral sending of data from Montenegro to Italy and Croatia is completed, data exchange will be implemented in reverse direction, and we hope that EU MS lead by DG TAXUD will assist us in defining a proper legal framework to support this. I would like to use this opportunity to thank SEED+ action and the CEFTA Secretariat for supporting us in this process from the very beginning.” said Mr Vladimir Bulajić, Director of Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro.
“As a country that expects to soon become an EU candidate country, Bosnia and Herzegovina is determined to take all measures within the customs service to facilitate road traffic on green corridors and speed up customs procedures. On the one hand, this will speed up the transport of goods and be a significant help to all obligees who operate in accordance with legal regulations. On the other hand, with an adequate risk analysis, the customs service of Bosnia and Herzegovina continues all activities related to the fight against customs fraud”. – stated Mrs. Zagorka Gojković, Head of the Department for IPR, Prohibitions and Restrictions, Customs Sector.
“TCT Secretariat very much welcomes the signing of the MoU and commends the visionary decision taken by the Directors of the Customs authorities of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. This represents a steppingstone to even better managed borders and lead to decrease of waiting times for transport of freight. TCT continues to support all parties for full extension of the Green Lanes, and until all components are in place.“ stated director Matej Zakonjsek.
Along with these important agreements, CEFTA Secretariat and Italian Excises, Customs and Monopolies Agency signed a partnership agreement, which specifies the provisions of cooperation in the implementation of SEED+ activities with CEFTA Parties.
According to Mr. Marcello Minenna, Director General of Italian Excise, Customs and Monopolies Agency stated “The Western Balkans are a fundamental Region for Italy and for the European Union as stated by the European Institutions on many occasions. We also believe that the process of enlargement should be encouraged. This is the main reason why I am honoured to have brought the contribution of the Agency in this process. After almost twenty years, we think it’s time to give a clear message in order to achieve a stronger integration between the economies of the Western Balkans and the European Union. Our efforts go in that direction”.
Within the CEFTA Week 2022, the SEED+ High Level Meeting “Achievements, Challenges, and the Way Forward” will be held on 8 December, gathering the directors of customs, veterinary, phytosanitary and agencies for medicines, to take stock of the SEED+ progress in improving customs data exchange and in generation, processing and exchange of phytosanitary, veterinary and pharmaceutical certificates and entry documents, including e-certificates, bringing the CEFTA closer to paperless trade.