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International Customs Day 2006: Commissioner Kovács highlights contribution of customs to security and trade facilitation

László Kovács, EU Commissioner for taxation and customs, will join celebrations by Hungarian customs of the International Customs Day that takes place every year on 26 January.

"Today we celebrate International Customs Day. Let me seize this opportunity to thank the customs community, both European and international, for their work and their achievements: both the modernisation of customs in the European Union and the initiatives launched at the level of the World Customs Organisation rely on you and your sense of vision and entrepreneurship", Commissioner Kovács said adding: "Customs officers perform crucial tasks addressing the core preoccupations of our citizens and enterprises. Therefore, political leaders should give them the support they deserve. Furthermore, the value of their work needs to be communicated in a professional manner."

Economic globalisation is one of the major challenges that the EU is confronting today. This generates the benefits of a more open world but also creates potential threats to European society. The new EU customs agenda is shaped to address these challenges. Among its essentials:

  • Security amendment to the Community Customs Code

The so-called "security amendment" adopted in 2005 is aimed at improving the security and safety of the whole supply chain. The implementing provisions of the amendment are being drafted by the Commission and Member States , while the corresponding concept of the Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and IT systems are being developed. This is in line with the World Customs Organisation Framework of Standards.

  • Customs Reform - electronic customs

The other dominant theme of the EU customs agenda relates to the modernisation of the Community Customs Code in order to simplify and streamline customs procedures and processes and to promote pan-European customs transactions. Furthermore, the Commission proposed the creation of a pan-European electronic customs environment. As a result, the work of companies and public authorities will be made faster, better and cheaper.

  • Fight against counterfeiting

A third pillar continues to be the fight against counterfeiting, in particular the implementation of the new Action Plan on a customs response to counterfeiting.

These policy priorities reaffirm the Commission's commitment to an EU customs policy that reflects global economic change and enables the European Union to continue playing its role, with ambition and rigour, in international customs cooperation.

Some facts and figures about customs in the European Union

The Customs Union is a central pillar of the European Union and an essential element in the functioning of the single market. Customs in the EU handles 19% of the total world trade, this equates to more than 2 billion tonnes of goods per year handled at EU ports and airports.

The role of customs has dramatically changed over the years in order to better address the new challenges of economic globalisation. This is reflected in the following figures:

  • The total number of physical declarations made by trade to customs was more than 120 million in 2004;
  • Every year, EU customs authorities carry out 5.6 million physical customs controls;
  • The total number of documentary checks made in the EU is 15 million per year.

This work has yielded significant results:

More than 100 million pirate and counterfeit articles were seized at the EU borders. Read more...pdf(230 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

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In 2004 about 12 billion euro was collected in customs charges

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Around 6000 kilos of heroin and 90 tonnes of cocaine are seized in the EU each year. Read more...pdf(230 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

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Thousands of seizures of endangered species are made by customs in the EU each year. Read more...pdf(230 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

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About the International Customs Day

The International Customs Day is celebrated each year under the auspices of the World Customs Organisation. This day aims to highlight the mission of customs services world-wide. Participating countries host domestic events bringing together the customs community, businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders in international trade.

Further information

Commissioner Kovács' speech on the occasion of the celebration by the Hungarian customs of the International Customs Day, Budapest , 27 January 2006pdf(29 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  .

Article by L. Kovács: "Creating a new EU customs environment to face globalisation challenges"pdf(17 kB)

Statement by Commissioner Kovácspdf(9 kB) on the adoption of the World Customs Organisation's Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade

Customs in the European Union

European Commission's internet site on customs and security

EU Counterfeiting statistics

Wildlife trade in the EU