The European Shippers Council (ESC) said it's becoming increasingly concerned about the impact on supply chains from European Commission regulation 185/2010 which will amend the air cargo security regime after April 29, 2013.
On that date, known consignors will need their security procedures and measures validated by an officially approved inspector. Otherwise the air freight must be made secure by a regulated agent or a carrier by scanning.
In the past 19 months, the number of shippers that have received the known consignor status under the new rules is limited, ESC said.
"Urgent action is needed to avoid potential chaos occuring," said Denis Choumert, ESC chairman, in a statement. "The European Commission should advise, help or force member states to set up their validation programs; alternatively the commission should look at other options, such as extending the grace period given to member states to comply."
ESC said in Germany there are now 66,000 known consignor companies under the old regulation and less than 50 under Regulation 185/2010. In the Netherlands the number of known consignors is higher, but still only about 150 companies compared to 2,600 under the old regime.
"The worry is that there will be so few companies (shippers) that have had their security independently validated according to the new rules, that the freight forwarders and carriers will not be able to manage the demand for additional security checking, screening and scanning of air cargo," ESC explained.
Choumert said, "under current rules shippers are almost automatically made known consignors after a check by their freight forwarder and some administrative formalities, instead of by an independent validator under the new rules. Governmental institutes, freight forwarders, ground handlers and shippers are ill-prepared for the obligations and requirements this legislation entails."
Choumert said many shippers seem reluctant to go to the trouble of independent validation while others who do want to be known consignors under the new regime are finding it difficult to do so. He said there are too few independent validators appointed by governments to run the validation audits.
"With one year to go before the end of the grace period many EU member states still have no shippers with this security status," he said. "How can shippers avoid the screening procedures when they do not have the opportunity to become registered?
"We fear the number of shippers with a known security status will decrease dramatically in May 2013 and the amount of cargo that needs to be screened will increase significantly. And we are not convinced that the regulated agents (freight forwarders and ground handlers) are ready for the increase in demand for their security screening and scanning services.
"We do not see the necessary investment being made by the regulated agents to cope with the demand," Choumert added. "A bottleneck in the air cargo supply chain is in the making, with serious delays as a result. Shippers of time-sensitive and high value goods will encounter major problems with dire consequences, unless the member states concerned act decisively now."