EU-U.S. security agreement allows cheaper, faster air cargo operations

Frankfurt as the last point of departure.

The U.S. rules are set out in the Aircraft Operator Standard Security Programme (AOSSP) and for non U.S. carriers in the Model Security Program (MSP).

What is the problem?
The current situation does not take into consideration the extensive controls already applied at EU airports and often require duplication of certain controls or running separate security regimes for U.S.-bound cargo in parallel to applying EU rules.

The cost for implementing separate regimes can be high and, in addition, significantly affect the speed and efficiency of operations for shippers transporting goods to their customers. Carriers also report that difficulties to comply with different security requirements have forced them to stop carrying certain types of cargo. Most importantly, the duplication does not offer additional security benefit.

Why does this matter?
The current regime represents a major impediment to an important commercial sector and to EU-U.S. trade.

  • The EU and the United States are each other’s single most important destination for air cargo.
  • Air cargo traffic between the EU and the United States amounts to over a million tons a year travelling each way across the Atlantic, which is over 20 percent of all outbound air cargo from the EU (2010 figures).
  • The goods transported by air from the EU to the United States represent a value of over €107 billion, which is 27 percent of the value of all goods exported by air by the EU (2011 figures).
  • Many processes in the air cargo business involve security measures, ranging from the training of staff, through shipping documents to physical screening facilities and handling processes. It is therefore difficult to estimate precisely the cost of security measures. Nevertheless, costs that can be directly attributed to security measures can amount to 1 percent to 4 percent of turnover depending on the carrier’s profile. Up to one-fifth of this amount can be attributed to duplicate measures on transatlantic traffic.

What is the EU proposing?

The European Commission and TSA have declared that they mutually recognize their respective air cargo security regimes from 1 June 2012..

In other words, the European Commission has declared that the U.S. air cargo security standards are equivalent to Community standards and TSA has declared that the Community air cargo security standards are equivalent to the U.S. standards. On this basis, neither EU nor the United States requires additional or different security measures for air cargo flown into its territory from the territory of the other side.

What are the benefits?
From 1 June 2012, air carriers flying cargo from the EU to the United States only need to implement in full the EU legal requirements which lay down obligations on the screening of consignments and on a regulated secure supply chain. No additional measures are required by TSA.


1. A single set of controls applies for all cargo leaving the EU, including for the United States. There is no duplication of EU and U.S. controls. There is no rescreening of U.S.-bound cargo if transferred within the EU as one-stop security and the secure supply chain within the EU is recognized.
2. The EU also recognizes the U.S. cargo security regime as meeting the recently adopted EU requirements for cargo being flown into the EU from third countries. Therefore, no additional measures are required from air carriers transporting cargo shipments from the United States to the EU.

The elimination of duplication, by a conservative estimate, saves several tens of millions of euros per year in the EU alone, without any loss of security. Not only will it minimize the costs for security controls, it will make an important time saving and greatly facilitate the movement of commerce between the EU and the United States.

What are the next steps?
Both sides also agreed to exchange information on the evolution and the implementation of each other’s security regimes, including participation in inspections, in order to ensure continued and full compliance by air cargo operators.