Evaluation of the Customs 2002 Programme
The Customs 2002 programme covered a period running from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2002.
The following examples are provided to illustrate the results that have emerged under the former Customs 2002 Programme in individual working areas:
Indicated as a problem area by the European Court of Auditors and a priority area by the European Parliament, proper risk management is a tool to support participating countries in carrying out customs controls. First practical results include the creation of a standard form and mechanism to enable Member States to exchange information on high-risk areas.
The completion of an inventory of Community customs controls will enable problem control areas to be identified and addressed via the programme; it will also alert candidate countries to areas needing special attention. A catalogue of indicators for economic operators was produced and tested in practice. The pilot actions resulted in significant cost savings for trade.
This is the major area of programme investment which covers the maintenance and further development of existing IT systems as well as the development of new IT systems to meet changing requirements. All systems increase standardisation and in many cases improve controls as well as reducing compliance costs. The major actions carried out to date appear in various reports, particularly on the implementation of the New Computerised Transit system (NCTS), which remains a priority. The new computer platform, the Common Communications Network/Customs System Interface (CCN/CSI), on which NCTS is based, will improve control standards and provide the basis for e-customs in an enlarged community. The system also permits the rapid transmission of control and crisis information to customs posts at the community's external frontiers.
The Data Dissemination System (DDS) enables business to gain on-line access to Community customs tools, such as the community's integrated tariff (TARIC). Interest is demonstrated by the 2.5 million consultations per month to two of the key information areas supplied by DDS (TARIC and Tariff Quotas). This figure has been reached after only six months of the system operating and is still increasing significantly.
Improvements to TARIC, comprised of more than 4000 community measures, enable updated Tariff information to be sent out each day in eleven languages. Ongoing work is preparing the links to candidate countries' systems and assisting these countries in their preparation for accession.
The European Parliament has stressed the importance of this work. Work on measuring the results of customs activities performed by Member States is underway and the results achieved enable Member States to compare their performance to the Community standard and act to improved customs operations where necessary.
There is a need for greater transparency in customs actions increases as the Community expands. Combined with the drafting of standards for controls, this work will provide increased guarantees of the maintenance of standards in an enlarged Community.
Work under the programme needs to adapt to external changes. The "counterfeiting" sector shows the importance of customs co-operating to counter increasing threats to community business and employment. The programme (via the use of exchanges, support to specialised teams, major forum etc) has contributed towards helping Member States efforts to tackle the growing counterfeiting problem. Results show customs in the Community seizing 65 million counterfeit articles in 2000 (compared to 25 million 1999), estimated to equate to more than 1 billion Euro of legitimate products.
In addition to the many computerisation actions improving standardisation, work on guidelines and recommendations has led to improvements which will be continued as more actions are completed. Sectors involved include customs laboratories, product safety, cultural goods, chemical precursors, establishing memoranda of understanding and the deployment and use of X-ray scanners.
Numerous external activities have taken place notably aimed at preparing for enlargement. Actions have focused on the improvement of the operational capacity of customs administrations in the candidate countries.
External activities also aimed at improving links with close trading partners to enable better control, to prevent fraud and to foster trade by facilitating exchanges.
The IT inter-connectivity study deserves particular mention as a crucial step in examining candidate countries' preparations and state of readiness to link up to community systems.
Greater targeting and linking exchanges to high priority areas (e.g. improving controls) and specific projects (e.g. anti-counterfeiting) have led to better results in this area. One example concerns the RALFH project on co-operation between the five ports responsible for 70% of EU maritime traffic where exchanges involve officials using container scanners as well as officials applying specific controls.