April 19 - Europe's leading network carriers, represented by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), are urging US regulators to fully recognise European air cargo security standards and accelerate progress towards a mutual recognition agreement.

"At the moment European airlines have to seek cargo security approval on both sides of the Atlantic," said AEASecretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus. "We are calling on US regulators to accept Europe's robust security standards as equal to their own. This will simplify processes for airlines and remove unnecessary duplication." 

A significant volume of air freight - 90f the worldwide total - is carried over the North Atlantic. Mutual recognition would streamline this essential trade flow, while maintaining the highest possible security levels.

"We are encouraged that a number of EU States have recently signed bilateral cargo recognition agreements with the USA, but this must serve as a concrete foundation towards our final goal: a single, comprehensive EU-US deal," he said. 

Over recent months, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK have finalised cargo recognition agreements with the USA and several more are underway.

"Once we have a critical build-up of US approvals, an EU-wide deal will be a simple next step. These audits should give the USA confirmation, if it is really needed, that European regulators take air cargo security extremely seriously," concluded Mr Schulte-Strathaus.

Earlier this year, US Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, presented a 'National Strategy for Supply Chain Security' signed by President Barack Obama

The report urged nations and industry leaders to cooperate and submit thoughts and recommendations on such matters as methods to share information, streamline processes and synchronise standards and procedures. 

It came after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) deadline of December 31, 2011 to screen 1000f all cargo from US-bound passenger aircraft was put on hold, with no explanation given for the delay, although some have suggested that one of the reasons for the 100argo screening delay was the shift in strategy towards a risk-based intelligence-driven methodology for overall security efforts. 

At present, European airlines have to abide by European air cargo security rules as well as US rules once the airlines enter US territory.