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Table of contents:

· Italian Customs Agency

· Project Duration and Beneficiary Administrations

· Background information

· Project Objectives and Purpose

· Expected results

 

Italian Customs Agency

 

The Customs Agency is the Italian customs authority that carries out all the tasks provided for by the National and Community legislation to protect the national and Community budget. It is entrusted with the verification and collection of customs duties and excise in international trade and the relevant legal disputes, as well as with the management and control of VAT in intra-Community movement of goods. It is also in charge of controls and collection of excise duties on production and consumption. Moreover, the Italian Customs Agency is responsible for fighting against non-fiscal offences (for the security and safety of citizens) and closely co-operates with E.U. bodies within the framework of the E.U. development and harmonization processes. The Italian Customs Administration has always been committed in capacity building and technical assistance actions to the benefit of Third Countries in the context of both bilateral and Community Projects. Since 1992 it has been actively and successfully participating in the implementation of PHARE and TACIS Programmes.

 

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Project Duration and Beneficiary Administrations

Project started on July 22, 2016 with entire duration of 24 months. Beneficiary Administrations of the SEED "Maintenance Project" are:

· Albania – Customs Administration of Albania

· Bosnia and Herzegovina – Indirect Tax Authority BiH

· the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – Macedonian Customs Administration

· Montenegro – Montenegrin Customs Administration

· Serbia – Customs Administration of Serbia

· Kosovo* – Kosovo Customs Service

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence


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Background Information

Stage 1: SEMS Project

The SEMS (Systematic Electronic Exchange of Data) project was launched for a period of 12 months from May 2008 to April 2009 with an engagement of 3 Long-Term experts and 3 Short-Term Experts for a total of 880 working days. This project has been extended for two additional months on non costs basis, until end of June 2009. The main objective of the SEMS project was to develop regional standard for the electronic and automatic exchange of encrypted pre-arrival information in “real-time” between Beneficiary Customs Administrations, so called “SEED Concept”. This exchange of pre-arrival information is instrumental in upgrading the administrative capacity of the participating administrations. More especially, the IT tool is intended to enhance compliance with legislation, back up the fight against fraud and facilitate trade. The project was limited to create design documentation for the SEED system – User Requirements and Functional Specifications, as well as, to test these specifications through so called Pilot Actions. During the scope of this Project two data exchange links (so called “Pilot Actions”) have been established.

The Beneficiaries have requested additional technical assistance during two extra years to implement the extension of the system to other customs offices throughout the Region, and to implement additional business objectives – alarm module on pre-arrival data and automatic data matching. When it became obvious that procedure for Project extension will take some time and that gap of more than year will occur, it has been decided that some SEED related activities will be included into the Regional IBM Project.

 

Stage 2: Regional IBM Project

SEMS/SEED related activities were conducted within the Customs Component of the Regional IBM Project from November 2009 till end of April 2010, by 3 Short-Term Experts for total number of 90 working days. The main purpose of this assignment was keeping of the results of the previous project on the achieved level, and supporting of activities related to electronic exchange of information in Western Balkan Region between end of the SEMS Project and beginning of the new – SEED Project, whish has started in September 2010.

Even resources were limited and initially designated to the maintenance activities only, following high commitment of Beneficiary Administrations and support provided by the consultants even in periods without formal engagement (July 2009 – October 2009 and May 2010 – September 2010), 2 additional data exchange links have been established in this “bridging” period.

 

Stage 3: SEED Project

SEED Project started on 14th September 2010 with overall duration of 24 months and engagement of 6 Long-Term and 7 Short-Term Experts. The main activities of the SEED Project are: 1) geographical enlargement of the so called “SEED Pilot Actions” (SEED phase one) by establishment of missing bilateral data exchange links between all Beneficiaries and inclusion of all customs offices in data exchange; 2) extension of the scope of bilateral links by introducing data exchange about all border crossings; 3) functional and operational update of the SEED Phase 1, towards “Phase 2” functionalities: a) analysis of pre-arrival data and alarm functions, and b) automatic data matching (automatic reconciliation of data sent at the moment of the truck exit with data declared at the entrance, at the neighbour BCP), as well as, new user requirement – c) improvement of the transport module by development and implementation of the SEED External Communication Node (ECN).

The main merit of the project is that it is designed to improve the electronic exchange of information amongst the Beneficiaries, which could be instrumental in the:

Administrative (organisational and operational) capacity building of each Beneficiary Administration in several areas;

Improvement of Regional cooperation;

Contribution to the EU integration perspective – significant step towards fulfilling a number of Blueprints requirements.



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Project Objectives and Purpose

The overall objective of the project is:

 

The overall objective of the project, of which this contract will be a part, is to secure the technical support, as requested by the beneficiary administrations, in order to provide the sustainability and normal upgrade of the Systematic Electronic Exchange of Data (SEED) between the Customs Administrations of the Western Balkans region, including the SEED server placed at the premises of the Italian Customs Agency in Rome and related communication links to Belgrade and Pristina. Furthermore, the new phase of the technical assistance aim at paving the way for the designing and implementation of SEED+.

The main purposes of this contract are:

 

·         The continuation of the support of the maintenance of the SEED and INES+ infrastructures.

·         The extension and improvement in the customs field, especially in terms of trade facilitation and law enforcement.

·         The technical and organisational preparation of inspection agencies and other relevant authorities, in view of the future implementation of the SEED+ System /Project.

 


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Expected results

The expected results to be achieved are:

RESULT 1- Maintenance of the SEED and INES+ infrastructures Current

  • 11 bilateral data exchange links and 7 SEED nodes regularly supervised and maintained;
  • Bilateral problems/issues of operational and IT nature solved;
  • Automatic Data Marching algorithms further  updated;
  • Analysis of pre-arrival data customized and/or updated;
  • Operational use of the Cross-border cash functionality re-enforced;
  • Cross-border cash flow functionality additionally customized and/or updated;
  • New “ATA module” within the SEED software designed, developed and implemented;
  • New releases of the SEED software installed;
  • INES+ software currently installed in Belgrade, Banja Luka, Podgorica, Pristina and Tirana maintained;
  • e-IPR module (for electronic submission of Applications for Actions) currently installed in Belgrade maintained;
  • Beneficiary administrations further trained on SEED System;
  • Beneficiary administrations further trained on INES+ System;
  • Technical Specification, Users Manuals and Operational Guidelines regularly updated and translated in all languages of the Region;
  • Exchange of experiences and collection of common requirements for improvement of the SEED software within the current business objectives (automatic data matching and ) in a regional context;
  • Maintenance, update of the content and additional improvement of the public part of the Project Web Portal (www.eu-seed.net), as well as, update of the restricted parts of the portal: 1) devoted to the relevant experts from the Beneficiaries, and 2) administrative and logistics tool used by the backstopping team and experts;

 

RESULT 2 - Extension of SEED scope in the Customs area

  • SEED module for data exchange about requests for VAT refund of the foreign physical persons at the exit border, designed, developed and implemented.
  • Beneficiaries’ needs and  expected benefits for establishment of data exchange in the IPR filed (between INES+ software) assessed; On basis of the needs assessment, SEED infrastructure improved in way to support interconnectivity between INES+ applications, taking into the account COPIS specifications and data standards;
  • Feasibility Study on 1) infrastructure (ICT) prerequisites and 2) needs assessment for establishment of data exchange of scanner images executed;
  • On basis of the results of the Feasibility Study, it will be decided in later stage whether and how SEED software improved in way to support exchange of data (images) related to scanner controls;.
  • Preparatory activities on Safety/Security aspects are implemented;

 

RESULT 3 – SEED+ Preliminary Activities implemented. The list of preliminary activities to be deployed includes:

  • Administrative capacity of technical inspections enhanced in the area of interconnectivity and interoperability with other national and regional authorities;
  • An investment plan and a related action plan for improvement of the ICT infrastructure of the inspections agencies defined;
  • SEED IT infrastructure – External Communication Node additionally improved SEED for future communication with stakeholders at national level;
  • Preparatory activities for piloting of the AEO Mutual Recognition (MR) finalized;
  • Preparatory activities for creation of Regional Databases executed (upon the prerequisite that the legal base is established and the Framework Agreement on Trade Facilitation agreed and signed).


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 SEED Links

  SEED Web Application -test site
  INTERNAL Project Site