CEFTA-Transport Community Green Corridors/Lanes become reality at the crossing points between the CEFTA Parties and the EU: SEED system for electronic data exchange proves to be highly flexible and adaptable

July 7, 2022

CEFTA-Transport Community Green Corridors/Lanes initiative has become functional on the crossings between CEFTA Parties and the EU, thanks to the SEED+, System for Electronic Exchange of Data, which is operational in CEFTA. Mr George J. Pitsilis, Governor of Independent Authority for Public Revenue of Greece and Ms Slavica Kutirov, Director of the Customs Administration of North Macedoniasigned the Memorandum of Understanding on the electronic data exchange between the customs administrations at the Thessaloniki Connectivity Forum, organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ General Secretariat for International Economic Affairs. This is an important milestone given that this cooperation serves as basis for all future transport and trade from CEFTA Parties to Greece. This cooperation opens the possibilities for further expansion of the CEFTA-TCT Green Corridors/Lanes initiative towards the EU Members States.

SEED had a crucial role in implementing CEFTA-TCT Green Corridors/Lanes and the Customs Authorities will exchange data using SEED platform, funded by the EU. SEED has been implemented since 2010, later upgraded to SEED+ and has enhanced management of the crossing points in the Western Balkans, improved efficiency and simplified procedures. “In practice, SEED and SEED+ provide for secure means for data exchange among authorities involved in clearance of goods at crossing points, improving risk analyses and thus contributing to significant reduction of the waiting times and costs. One of the key benefits of the SEED solution is flexibility and adaptability as per needs of the participating customs administrations, which are using it.” stated Mr Emir Djikic, CEFTA Secretariat Director.

Memorandum signed between Greece and North Macedonia fully considers importance of customs duties and other taxes applicable during trade of goods, recognizes the need for cross border cooperation and takes into account objectives of the Regional Common Market Action Plan.

Mr. George J. Pitsilis, Governor of Independent Authority for Public Revenue of Greece said: “The Green Corridors initiative has a significant added value, not only for the wider trade and transport integration of the CEFTA Parties with the EU’s neighbouring countries, but also for customs cooperation. The customs services of the Hellenic Republic’s Independent Authority for Public Revenue (IAPR) participate in the implementation of the Green Corridors/ Lanes initiative. Through the Memorandum of Understanding with North Macedonia for the pilot electronic exchange of pre-arrival data of goods at the border post Evzonoi-Bogorodica, we aim to deepen customs cooperation with the neighbouring country, both in facilitating trade and reducing smuggling. Working with CEFTA and the Transport Community, we aspire to further strengthen customs cooperation, as well as to extend cooperation with other neighbouring countries, with full respect to EU customs legislation.”

“I am very glad that in the year of celebration of the 30th anniversary of our Customs Administration as an independent service, we are part of this rather historic event on which we have just signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on electronic data exchange, between our two institutions: The Independent Authority for Public Revenue of the Hellenic Republic and the Customs Administration of the Republic of North Macedonia. At this moment, this act is in direction of establishment of the first operational Green Lane road border crossing point with EU Member State – the Republic of Greece, using the CEFTA SEED platform, with vision to expand it in the future. This regional activity, the establishment of Green Corridors, was first realized in April 2020 within CEFTA region, with the very start of the pandemics. Today with our positive experience we are extending it to Bogorodica – Evzoni, as crucial border crossing point between our two countries and at pan-European Corridor 10. We are looking forward to discuss the possibilities for expansion of this initiative with the Republic of Bulgaria as well” stated Ms Slavica Kutirov, Director General of the Customs Administration of Republic of North Macedonia.

The CEFTA-TCT Green Corridors/Lanes initiative is expected to be expanded to Italy in early September, and expected to follow by other EU Member States as well.

“The first operational Green Lane between the EU and a Western Balkans regional partner is a crowning achievement of two years of coordinated actions of numerous stakeholders in line with the commitments made at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Brdo pri Kranju. By establishing the Green Lanes within the entire region first, and then on borders with the EU, we are bringing the region closer to the EU. This kind of crossings are a steppingstone to even better managed borders, decrease of waiting times for passengers and freight, and the one-stop-go approach at all our borders. This concept can and should be applied to other border crossings with the EU and I would like to encourage more EU Member States to join,” said Matej Zakonjsek Director of Transport Community Permanent Secretariat.

Establishment of CEFTA-TCT Green Corridors/Lanes within the Western Balkans during the Covid 19 proved to be one of the most succesful examples of regional cooperation. Thessaloniki Connectivity Forum gathered the representatives of the CEFTA Parties and neighbouring EU Member States to explore the ways for the effective implementation of the EU Economic and Investment  Plan and promoting the CEFTA-TCT-EU Green Corridors/Lanes Initiative. ’The idea behind Thessaloniki Connectivity Forum is to provide an opportunity for productive dialogue between EU Member States and CEFTA Parties on transport connectivity. We already have a tangible result, the signing of the MoU between the Independent Authority for Public Revenue of the Hellenic Republic and the Customs Administration of North Macedonia. We need to build on this example and continue our active engagement in promoting sustainable transport connectivity’, said the Secretary General for International Economic Affairs of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ioannis Smyrlis.

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