The Customs Union and you

You need the Customs Union, but maybe you didn’t know it.

The Customs Union is essential to the operation of the EU’s single market. A single market with no internal borders cannot work properly unless common rules apply at its external borders. The volume of goods moving across the external borders of the European Union is staggering.

  • Around 173 million customs declarations were handled in 2006.
  • The value of the EU’s imports and exports totalled over €2 500 billion in 2006.
  • Only highly efficient customs authorities can manage such a huge workload without causing major delays or allowing fraudulent, undesirable or illegal consignments to slip through.
  • Traders operate on a global market, with modern technology and fast means of delivery.
  • Customs authorities therefore have to develop continuously to meet the expectations of traders, while maintaining or even increasing the level of security enjoyed by European citizens.

In addition, customs procedures are used to ensure proper implementation of a number of EU policies related to international trade.

For instance:

  • The EU’s trade policy depends on the existence of a common customs tariff and also uses other customs mechanisms, such as those for establishing the customs value and the origin of goods.
  • In the field of development policy, economic cooperation takes the form of granting trade preferences which, likewise, are built around the common customs tariff.
  • The common agricultural policy uses numerous customs procedures and mechanisms.