First Green Lane between EU and Western Balkans

Thessaloniki, 7 July  – The first Green Lane border crossing between Western Balkans and the EU has become functional between Greece and North Macedonia, thanks to the SEED+ System for Electronic Exchange of Data.

Customs representatives of two countries signed today the Memorandum of Understanding on the electronic data exchange at the Thessaloniki Connectivity Forum, organised by the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This cooperation opens the possibilities for further expansion of the Green Lanes initiative to EU Member States.

“The first operational Green Lane between the EU and the Western Balkans is a crowning achievement of 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. This kind of crossings are a steppingstone to even better managed borders, decrease of waiting times for passengers and freight, and the one-stop-go approach at all our borders. This concept can and should be applied to other border crossings with the EU and I would like to encourage more EU Member States to join,” said Matej Zakonjsek, Director of Transport Community Permanent Secretariat.

SEED+ has enhanced management of the crossing points in the Western Balkans, improved efficiency and simplified procedures.

“In practice, SEED+ provides for secure means for data exchange among authorities involved in clearance of goods at crossing points, improving risk analyses and thus contributing to significant reduction of the waiting times and costs. One of the key benefits of the SEED+ solution is flexibility and adaptability as per needs of the participating customs administrations, which are using it,” stated Mr Emir Djikic, Director of CEFTA Secretariat.

The memorandum signed between Greece and North Macedonia 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 Regional Common Market Action Plan.

“Through the Memorandum of Understanding with North Macedonia for the pilot electronic exchange of pre-arrival data of goods at the border post Evzonoi-Bogorodica, we aim to deepen customs cooperation with the neighbouring country, both in facilitating trade and reducing smuggling. Working with CEFTA and the Transport Community, we aspire to further strengthen customs cooperation and to extend cooperation with other neighbouring countries, with full respect of EU customs legislation,” said Mr George J. Pitsilis, Governor of Independent Authority for Public Revenue of Greece.

“Bogorodica – Evzoni is a crucial border crossing point between our two countries and at the pan-European Corridor 10. We are looking forward to discussing the possibilities for expansion of this initiative with the Republic of Bulgaria as well,” stated Ms Slavica Kutirov, Director General of the Customs Administration of Republic of North Macedonia.