For security reasons the EU will introduce a provision from 1 July 2009 for the movement of goods with non-EU Member States under which imports and exports will be subject to a prior notification requirement (24-hour rule). For Switzerland as a third country, this regulation would have a considerable impact on procedures concerning the flow of goods with EU Member States, Switzerland's most important trade partners.
The agreement between Switzerland and the EU provides for a waiver of the prior notification requirement in the transfer of goods between Switzerland and the EU even after the introduction of this new regulation. The equivalence of the respective security standards will be mutually recognised. This ensures smooth trade flows between Switzerland and the EU.
At the same time, goods traffic between Switzerland and non-EU Member States will be subject to the new EU security regulations (concerning prior notification and risk analysis). The EU has introduced the status of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) which eases customs security regulations for the accredited company when trading with non-member countries. Switzerland will adopt this practice and the respective AEO certificates will be mutually recognised.
The European Commission has established a transitional arrangement in the form of the Regulation of 2 April 2009 on the obligation to provide electronic entry and exit summary declarations which is valid until 31 December 2010. At that point Switzerland will also introduce the prior notification requirement concerning the transfer of goods with non-EU countries from 1 January 2011.
As the Federal Assembly will only debate the matter in the second half of the year, the Federal Council has taken the decision to provisionally apply the agreement from 1 July 2009 to ensure the smooth and uninterrupted flow of goods.
The agreement also defines a procedure which regulates adjustments to future legal developments. It makes provision for Swiss experts to be involved in the preparatory phase of community law in the respective EU working groups. Switzerland should not constitute a risk in terms of security. Switzerland and the EU must therefore apply the respective legal developments simultaneously. The instrument to provisionally apply the new rules serves this purpose.
The internal, constitutional procedures for the definitive approval of new regulations will be observed and mutually respected. Should Switzerland decide not to adopt a legal development, as a result of which the equivalence of the customs security measures is no longer guaranteed, the EU may take appropriate compensatory measures. If both parties agree to this, the matter may be taken to a court of arbitration which will rule on the proportionality of the compensatory measures taken.
The consultation will last until 5 October 2009. Parliament will then vote on whether or not to approve the agreement. The agreement is subject to an optional referendum.
Address for enquiries:
Hermann Kästli, Directorate General of Customs, tel. 031 322 65 03
Dominique Boillat, Integration Office FDFA/FDEA, tel. 031 322 26 40