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20 November 2003

U.S., EU Initial Container Security Agreement

EU pledges "strong" support for U.S. anti-terrorism program, U.S. mission says

The United States and the European Union (EU) have agreed to cooperate on preventing cargo containers from being used to mount terrorist attacks, the U.S. Mission to the EU said.

In a November 18 statement, the mission said that the two sides initialed an agreement calling for establishing a joint working group to address the potential expansion of the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI) throughout the EU as well as related matters.

The mission said that the EU pledged strong support for the program, under which U.S. Customs inspectors are allowed to work in foreign ports next to their foreign counterparts to identify U.S.-bound high-risk cargo before it departs for the United States.

In 2002, the European Commission, the EU's executive body, criticized eight EU members for signing bilateral CSI agreements with the United States and threatened them with legal action, according to news reports.

The U.S. mission said that the agreement with the EU would enable U.S. customs authorities to expand CSI to EU countries that do not have bilateral agreements with the United States and to the EU's new members.

Following is the text of the mission's statement:

(begin text)

UNITED STATES MISSION TO THE EUROPEAN UNION

November 18, 2003

The U.S. and the EU are working together to tighten container security.

Under the agreement initialed November 18 by U.S. Ambassador to the EU Rockwell Schnabel and Commission Director General Robert Verrue, the EU pledged its strong support for the U.S. Container Security Initiative (CSI), and the U.S. and EU will form a joint working group to address issues related to the expansion of CSI throughout the EU as well as other matters related to container security.

Implementation of the CSI secures an essential part of the supply chain between the U.S. and the EU. It will be harder for terrorists to use ships and cargos to threaten European and American ports and cities.

The U.S. has already concluded Container Security Initiative agreements with eight EU member states. The agreement initialed yesterday will enable us to expand CSI throughout the EU, both to EU countries that do not have agreements and to the EU's incoming members. The efforts of both U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner and Commission Director General Verrue, expanding upon the work of the G8 [Group of Eight] leaders, made this accord possible.

We look forward to the agreement's quick ratification by member states, the formal signing of the accord, and its implementation.

(end text)