The European Union head office started legal action against member states who have bilateral anti-terrorist deals with the United States to beef up port security for U.S.-bound cargo, officials said Friday. (12/31/2002)
EU Commission Takes Action Against Members with U.S. Port Security
The EU's executive Commission said all 15 member nations should join together in negotiating an overall deal with Washington, a move it claims would increase security and eliminate trade discrimination between EU ports.
``We are concerned there might be a violation of EU law,'' said EU Commission spokesman Jonathan Todd. ``We feel it would be far more effective to have an EU agreement to ensure all cargo leaving from EU ports be properly checked against terrorist threats,'' said Todd.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, EU-U.S. cooperation has increased sharply, though disputes over the extradition of suspects and information sharing remain.
So far the United States has closed deals with the world's busiest port, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Belgium's Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremerhaven in Germany and the port at Le Havre in France.
Smaller EU ports are concerned being left out will leave them with a competitive disadvantage because cargo from the big ports would be given faster clearance in U.S. ports.
Deals with ``individual ports create distortion of competition,'' said Todd. He also insisted potential security threats would avoid the ports with trans-Atlantic security arrangements and center their efforts on others instead.
The United States has said it wants to include smaller ports too but the EU Commission wants one comprehensive deal it can negotiate.
He also said the Commission will ask the member states to extend the EU-U.S. cooperation agreement to include security issues as well.
The United States has negotiated 13 agreements with big ports and is focusing its efforts on the top 20 ports which account for two-thirds of cargo traffic into the United States in an attempt to make sure no terrorist arms or weapons of mass destruction are smuggled in.
The Commission sent formal notices to the member states, the first step in infringement proceedings which could end up in court.
Source - eyefortransport