20/04/2011 – NEW CUSTOMS REGIME TO ACCELERATE INTEGRATION
Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, all countries involved in the ”IPA Adriatic” cross-border cooperation project, have reached a compromise on the simplification of customs rules to be applied on products from the 22 partner countries from the southern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans (including Macedonia and Kosovo). The ”Pan-euromediterranean cumulus” area currently includes the European Union, EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein), signatories of the Barcelona Process (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Palestinian Territories) and the Faroe Islands. All countries are part of a convention project. Since the creation of this cumulus system, difficulties in managing the current system of individual protocols have grown, according to the text of the European Council proposal on the signing of the convention. Any changes to an existing protocol between two partner countries in the area carries an identical change to all protocols applicable in the area. As a result, the European Commission has decided to base the original diagonal cumulus on a single legal instrument assuming the form of a regional convention on preferential rules of origin, and regulating the individual free trade deals in force between the area’s countries. A convention of this kind had already been discussed in 2003, but was never followed up. During the conference of Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers held in Lisbon in 2007, the idea of such a convention was again mooted, with ministers agreeing to begin drafting a single convention on the preferential rules of origin for the pan-euromediterranean area, with a view to substituting the current network of protocols on rules of origin. A steering group was subsequently set up to carry out the necessary technical tasks and at this point, Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers decided to include the in the cumulus areas the countries taking part in the stabilization and association agreement (Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, the latter according to resolution 1244/99 of the United Nations Security Council). The inclusion of these countries in the pan-euromediterranean cumulus system will occur as part of the convention. The EU has overcome the obstacle represented by the recognition of Kosovo by member states, ruling in a statement attached to the agreement that the deal does not jeopardise the positions of individual countries on the matter. Goods exchanged in the pan-euromedioterranean area enjoy preferential treatment in terms of customs rates. This new system is aimed at stepping up the economic integration of partner countries through the creation of a shared economic space.
Source: Vecchio sito IPA