Julian Genkov, Head of TIR Audits and Admissions of Associations with the International Road Transport Union (IRU), in an interview for Focus News Agency.
Focus: Mr Genkov, what did you discuss during your meeting with representatives of the Customs Agency on the topic of TIR-EPD Green Lanes?
Julian Genkov: Today we had a meeting on an expert level with representatives of Customs Agency in connection with the establishment of the so-called TIR-EPD – TIR Electronic Pre-Declaration Green Lanes on border checkpoints. According to analyses, the use of TIR-EPD Green Lanes would save up to 40% of time and transport expenses. The aim is to allow our economy to take advantage of a faster trade, by reducing the waiting time and with the introduction of secure customs procedures.
This is one of our goals, which could really help the Bulgarian economy, and not only the Bulgarian one, but also of the countries, which are a part of the TIR Convention. According to analyses, around 40% of the time for transport is lost at border checkpoints, and between 35% and 40% of the unregulated payments are registered at border checkpoints. You can imagine how the 12 million vehicles, which are in the TIR system, could improve the economies of all these countries, if this time and resources are not lost. The effect will be tremendous, if the stay at border checkpoints is limited to the absolute minimum.
This is also a condition from the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods. According to Annex 10 of this Convention, such control should be enforced mostly, if possible, inside the countries, instead of at border checkpoints. In connection with this, and in connection with the latest requirements of the World Customs Organization and the initiators of the electronic pre-declaration – all 27 EU members and some other countries, such a pre-declarations of transit goods must be provided in advance. Depending on the destinations – in the EU such pre-declarations must be made one hour before reaching the border, while in other non-EU countries the requirements are up to two hours in advance, as is in the so-called new Customs Union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
Focus: What is the idea of the so-called Green Lanes?
Julian Genkov: The idea is to facilitate and speed up the crossing of border checkpoints, but in the same time to make no compromises with the procedures for inspection and control and for safety of the transported goods. When the information is provided in advance, there is also the possibility the customs authorities to make a risk assessment and profile of the transported goods, in advance, and to respectively to take the necessary measures for control and speeding up of the crossing of border checkpoints (in connection with the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods). The effect from such Green Lanes will be extremely positive in all countries, which introduce them, compared to the current situation.
Focus: Was this topic discussed during the visit of the management of IRU to Bulgaria a month ago?
Julian Genkov: During their visit to Bulgaria, made in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Association of the Bulgarian Enterprises for International Road Transport and the Roads (AEBTRI), Mr Janusz Lacny, President of the IRU, and Mr Martin Marmy, Secretary General of the IRU, had meetings with the heads of the Ministry of Transport and the Customs Agency, as well as the Bulgarian Prime Minister and Bulgarian President. They discussed the introduction of such lanes, and good will was demonstrated by Bulgarian officials at the highest level. And in this connection we continue these discussions at an expert level. There are no real differences in the opinions of the Customs Agency, AEBTRI, and me, as a representative of the IRU. The question is to discuss in details the possibility to adopt specific measures for the introduction of such Green Lanes. The Customs Agency noted that all systems for pre-declaration had to be made equal, in order to avoid the prioritisation of one or some of the systems. The IRU thinks that the TIR System presents a lot more security than any other system and that this should be taken into consideration at the border checkpoints. We also discussed the specifics concerning how the infrastructure for these Green Lanes should be organised, and how the information from these pre-declarations can be shared with AEBTRI and the IRU in order to take specific measures as fast as possible, which will contribute to the development of the economies of all countries involved.
Several countries neighbouring Bulgaria have already expressed readiness to introduce such lanes. Turkey, for example, is one of the countries, which is directly concerned. Very soon Turkey should become a part of the electronic system and should start using the system for internal transit of the EU, as this is also the case with Serbia and Macedonia. Such Green Lanes are already operating between Poland and Belarus, where the main traffic between Europe and Russia is passing.
Focus: From an expert point of view – what do you think is the realistic timeline for Bulgaria to introduce this system?
Julian Genkov: I do not want to talk on behalf of Bulgaria and to draw any conclusions or make any speculations. This should be discussed further, at an expert level, and must receive political support. Our neighbouring countries have officially expressed such political support. When there is support on a political level things happen faster.
Focus: Having in mind that Bulgaria will soon be an external border of Schengen, would this, in any way, impede the introduction of the TIR-EPD Green Lanes system?
Julian Genkov: From a security point of view, it will even enhance the security and control of transported goods. The customs officials will have already received pre-declared information, based on which they will be able to make risk profiles of the transported goods, of the hauliers, and the means of transportation. From a security point of view, there should be no threat whatsoever; we even think that this will be an effort for enhancing the measures for control.