Rome, 9 September 2022 – Blue Lanes initiative will improve sea traffic between Albania, Montenegro, and Italy, thanks to the SEED+, System for Electronic Exchange of Data. Mr. Genti Gazheli, General Director of the Customs Administration of Albania, Mr. Rade Milosevic, Director of the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro and Mr. Marcello Minenna, Director General of the Excise Customs and Monopolies Agency of Italy signed Memorandums of Understanding on the electronic data exchange between these institutions in Rome. This was also an opportunity to discuss the future development of the Blue Lanes initiative and trade relationships in the Adriatic Sea area.

“The first operational Blue Lane between the EU and the Western Balkans is a result of more than two years of coordinated actions of numerous stakeholders, in line with the commitments made at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Brdo pri Kranju. By establishing the Green Lanes within the entire region first, and then on borders with the EU, we are bringing the region closer to the EU. Extending the concept to seas and establishing the first Blue Lane will bolster multimodal transport and lead to increased trade flows. I expect new trade routes to flourish, which will bring benefits to citizens and businesses. Transport Community will continue working with EU Member States and partners in Western Balkans to further improve transport links and economic relations,” said Matej Zakonjsek, Director of Transport Community Permanent Secretariat.

This is an important milestone given that this cooperation will serve not only to Albania and Montenegro, but also other Western Balkans partners that will use ports in Albania and Montenegro for trade. Establishment of the IT infrastructure is ongoing, and it is expected that the system will be operational in fall 2022. This cooperation opens the possibilities for further expansion of the Green and Blue Lanes initiatives towards the other EU Members States.

The data will be electronically exchanged through SEED platform, funded by the EU. SEED has been implemented since 2010, later upgraded to SEED+ and has enhanced management of the crossing points in the Western Balkans, improved efficiency and cross border communications and simplified and modernised procedures.

“SEED system is the core of the Green/Blue initiatives, providing the secure IT infrastructure for speeding up customs procedures, formalities and customs controls not only between the CEFTA Parties, but also with the EU. Being highly flexible and adaptable, SEED system is bringing our administrations and businesses closer to the EU and its Singe Market,” stated Mr. Emir Djikic, Director of the CEFTA Secretariat.

Memorandums signed between Albania, Montenegro and Italy fully considers importance of customs duties and other taxes applicable during trade of goods, recognises the need for cross border cooperation and takes into account objectives of the Common Regional Market Action Plan. Director of Albanian Customs Mr. Gazheli presented in brief the long-term journey the Albanian customs has taken with the Excise Customs and Monopolies Agency of Italy. Emphasising the importance of CEFTA SEED, he added that the success achieved so far recommends the SEED to be used with the EU and brings the Blue Lanes to our reality. Thanking the Italian customs and CEFTA, Mr. Gazheli expressed expectation of the Albanian customs that the Blue Lanes will be extended to the other EU Member States.

“With the “Blue Lanes” initiative, an electronic data exchange – agreed with the competent European Institutions – is initiated using the SEED+ system, with the aim of fostering simplification of exchanges between CEFTA partners and the EU, in order to reduce the time and costs for border crossings. There are several expected benefits: Reduced travel and waiting times at border crossings by speeding up customs procedures through pre-arrival data processing; Improved risk analysis and management; Improved cross-border communication and cooperation with EU member states; Harmonization and modernization of procedures and practices to ensure a high level of security and protection of trade; Enhanced cooperation to sharing data between the EU and CEFTA, in compliance with EU legislation.” stated Mr. Marcello Minenna, Director General of the Excise Customs and Monopolies Agency of Italy.

Mr. Rade Milosevic, Director of the Revenue and Customs Administration of Montenegro said: “I greatly value the implementation of the Blue Lanes with our EU partners and the Excise Customs and Monopolies Agency of Italy. The Blue Lanes initiative will further facilitate, modernize and speed up the customs procedures and controls through the electronic exchange of information implemented through the CEFTA SEED platform, thereby strengthening the existing cooperation between our administration in all CEFTA Parties.”